Our temperatures continue to be challenging and it's been quite a while since we've seen any number that doesn't start with a minus. But daytime highs of -15 do have some benefits, for instance fewer people head out to the mountains, so fresh snowfall stays pristine.
I personally love to walk in the cold temperatures with the whole place to myself. The winter sun is enough to warm my face and everything else is bundled beneath layers of modern fabric. One of my favourite locations at this time of year is the westernmost end of upper kananaskis lake. The water shallows here and the lake bed undulates around small peninsulas that break up the thick ice, contorting it into natural carvings.
When I set out last week for my first long snowshoe plod across the lake this year, I was a little concerned about the amount of fresh snow and whether any of the ice would be visible at all. But it was a beautiful bright, cold afternoon and the temptation to hike across that pristine landscape was too much to resist. So, on with the snowshoes and backpack and off I went skirting the islands, edges and anywhere else I could find protrusions of ice.
At the western end of the lake the most reliable ice of winter was again visible. I found a number of great formations providing plenty of photo opportunities. The 'shark' below is entirely natural including that dark black eye and was one of a number of nice shots of the day. It's not something to add to the portfolio, or to put on the wall at home, but it's a fun shot and often that's enough.
If you want to visit this location, wait until late January into February for the ice to thicken and the water level to lower breaking the ice. Drive to the 'North Interlakes Day Use Area' car park and then walk west along the shore, on the frozen the lake or through the forest for around 3 km to the 'Point Campground' at the western end of the lake. You'll find the ice all around the peninsula there, but keep your eye out for sharks.
Testing a new location that I had my eye on for a sunset shoot, saw me standing out on the frozen water of the lower lake in kananaskis yesterday. It was an hour before sunset and I had plodded my way from the car park in snowshoes owing to deep fresh coverage from a recent snowfall. Our temperatures have been challenging for a week or so now and this location was as cold as any I've found in a long time. The light breeze felt like razors slashing at my face and I found myself resorting to the full balaclava and ski goggles to cover all areas of skin.
As the sun began to set the location initially looked promising, but the shadows climbed the west facing flanks of the mountains quickly. In the short time it took for the colour to change to that beautiful red/orange glow, only the peaks remained illuminated. I was left with a lot of dark foreground and an empty sky leaving the wide angle shot lacking in a number of areas.
I decided to take out the 70-200 mm telephoto lens and isolate a few of the peaks, while preparing for the shot a snowstorm moved in and split around the mountains. Suddenly the image was transformed from a bland sunset with too little light to a speckled sunset of stunning alpenglow reminiscent of a Patagonian landscape. As the clouds slid through the mountain passes I fired off a series of shots for over 20 minutes.
In the end it was difficult to select one from the group to post on the blog today, but I opted for this wonderfully moody frame with burnt umber summits interwoven with layers of blue and grey. A classic landscape in many senses it meets a number of the basic rules of composition and was worth every moment of that cold, biting wind across the lake.
The current arctic blast sweeping across north america has a lot of people wanting to shoot the beautiful ice crystal formations created in soap in bubbles. If it's cold enough it's actually a fairly simple thing to do, though there are some frustrations along the way.
For a start, it's bloody freezing. The result of that is everything you are working with freezes and you have to stop and defrost everything before starting again. I confess I think this might be better done with a friend to assist but I made a good number of nice shots today all alone on the deck of my home.
I used a wireless remote trigger and in no time at all had a good collection of images. So many in fact that I decided to write a tutorial for those not familiar with the process. The tutorial takes you through the equipment I used and how to make your own bubble mix with added strength. There's also a neat trick to hold your bubbles in place for those shooting without an assistant. The tutorial and a gallery of the shots I made can be found on the Tips & More section of this site or by using the direct link above.
You can read more about me in the 'about' section in the menu above, on the homepage, or by clicking here