Just a short post to wish everyone a happy new year. It has been a wonderful year which began with wildlife encounters and nightscapes in the city in January, and moved onto creating depth on the site with the addition of my composition tutorials and other tips.
In march I was shooting in Santa Monica, California (where better to escape the canadian winter) and in April I had a grizzly encounter in kananaskis. In May I added more tutorials and my lucky photography page.
In June it was landscapes in portrait mode and handheld macro images. July saw the forest fires provide a candy cane sunset and I began my series 5 project which showcases 5 themed images.
In August a shoot in Medicine Hat in southern Alberta showed the value in persistence as I finally caught a sunset behind the 'Worlds biggest TeePee' after a number of unsuccessful attempts. In September a fall photo walk provided great results, I also managed to capture a shooting star and a beautiful sunrise at the wedge pond in Kananaskis.
October was all about sunrise and sunsets as I hit the lower lake, Mt Rundle, Vermillion Lakes and the Wedge Pond again, happily each produced good results. In November the first snow and Ice of winter provided some beautiful images to start the season, one of which made the calendar for this year.
I ended the year with more snow and ice, a spontaneous sunrise shoot over the city of Calgary and some spectacular methane bubbles frozen in the local lakes. All in all 2018 was a great year, the workshops produced excellent results, tuition was enjoyable and rewarding as always and I improved my own work along the way.
Having said all of that, my image to share for new year is one from 2011, because I lived in Scotland then and nobody does new year celebration better than the scots. The image shows a part of Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate and the lodge built by Queen Victoria (Glas-alt-Shiel house) in 1868 as a 'widows house' where she could escape the world following the death of her husband Prince Albert. The house is still personally owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
I took the shot during a hike of the White Mounth Munros, a stunning 30km hike that takes you around the loch from the summits and plateaus of 5 mountains that surround it. If you are ever in this area of Scotland I urge you to visit the loch and make the hike if time (and energy) allow.
All that remains is for me to wish you all a wonderful, happy and prosperous new year and my genuine hope that the photography gods smile upon you in 2019.
Regular visitors to the site will know of my series 5 page where I pick 5 shots of a topic to share. Today I've added another 5 from the City of York, England, one of my favourite cities from home, York is a wonderful place. Founded by Romans, invaded by Vikings and expanded through medieval to modern times it has something for everyone.
I've posted this addition to break up the constant posts of winter photography of late. Don't get me wrong, we'll be right back to winter photography very soon but we need something different every once in a while. The image below is from the medieval shopping district in York, just another one of it's charms. You can find the series 5 page on the Tips & More tab above or by using the link provided earlier in this post.
My friend and I took a ride out to Lake Minnewanka in search of a change of scenery last week. It can be difficult at this time of year to find a change of scenery as almost everything is covered in snow and ice, but it's great to be out and you can never get too much practise.
Lake Minnewanka is located at the south end of Banff National Park on a scenic drive that continues from the northern end of Banff Avenue. We stopped at Two Jack lake briefly but it was full of people ice skating, lovely to see but not the best thing for landscape photography. We continued on to lake minnewanka where we found some great ice chandeliers along the shoreline which gave us some nice shots for the day.
Ultimately there's going to be a lot of snow and ice in my images for the next few months, but I will endeavour to find interest in the winter scenes, and hopefully make some good solid shots along the way.
Earlier this week the weather conditions were perfect for finding the wonderful phenomenon of methane bubbles trapped in the ice on local lakes. These curious stacks of gas form every year in almost every lake in Canada (and elsewhere in the world where winter temperatures are as severe)
Methane is produced year round by bacteria digesting dead organic matter on the lake bed and in some places by natural seepage of methane pockets built up over eons. In winter when the first layer of ice forms it prevents the escape of the gas, and as methane does not dissolve in water this results in a bubble trapped beneath the ice. Then as it freezes deeper, that bubble becomes suspended within the ice layer and another gets trapped beneath, as the process repeats the stacks are formed.
Whilst it occurs every year it goes unseen quite often because snow covers over the ice very quickly. But occasionally we get a continual series of very cold days and nights with little snow. That was the case this week and a good strong wind promised to sweep the ice clean of what little snow had fallen.
I set out to the upper lake with my wide angle lens, ice spikes and some warm clothing and was happy to have each item. The wind was howling through the nearby mountain pass and along the length of the lake, whipping snow across the surface and lowering the temperature considerably.
It was great to see the lake frozen solid and swept clean of snow, now all I had to do was find some good 'stacks'. I chose the north shore as I have seen methane bubbles along here before and wasn't disappointed this time. I found some great collections, and even with the snow trying hard to get in the way I made some nice shots of this wonderful phenomenon.
Earlier this week I found myself wide awake at 6am so decided to seize the opportunity to shoot the sunrise over Calgary. It's unfortunate that there wasn't any cloud about to fill the skies but the shots still worked out well I think.
I went to Enmax Park in the east of the city on Scotsman's Hill. I've been here before for a night shoot but was a little further south in the same park. Today I wanted to get a different angle so stayed in the north end of the park.
I left my home in Cochrane in good time and arrived at 07:20, over an hour before sunrise, so I could set up and catch a few shots of the blue hour first. I really like the blue hour shots I made and I'm pretty happy with the others from the morning too. The image I chose to share today was taken just as the sun peeked over the horizon when most of the short wavelength light is blocked by contaminants in the atmosphere. With only the long wavelength light getting through it makes for a lovely vibrant red across the city. Even without any interest in the sky, the sunrise lit up the reflective windows of the downtown core and made for some nice shots.
It's a lovely place to stand and watch the sunrise in Calgary, but at -16 with a slow breeze it was a long 2 hours all the same. I used my 70-200 mm telephoto to pick out some detail in the city too and got some good shots of the tower and surrounding buildings.
All in all a great morning, and a nice spontaneous shoot. Though unplanned for this day I was well aware of the location, access points, direction of light and time of day to be here, so perhaps a 'part planned' shoot would best describe it.
It's easy to fall into a bit of a trough in winter, temperatures are not helpful and winter storms can be terrible. But don't let that get you down, winter provides us with some great opportunities for an entirely different view of our usual haunts. Let the Ice falls and dark snow filled skies bring mood to your images instead of yourself.
I appreciate that we don't all have the rocky mountains and their incredible beauty to work with, but wherever you are in the world you will have your own changes. Sometimes they are subtle, perhaps a shortening of the days or the arrival of the rainy season, and sometimes they are huge like the arrival of the Canadian winter.
Wherever you are I'm sure you will be aware of the changes to your own environment no matter how small. If you are aware of them then you can find a way to photograph them. Perhaps you could make yourself a seasonal theme and return to the same location and repeat the shot as each season passes.
Maybe you could use macro to show the changes, or shoot the differing wildlife such as migrating birds (or migrating herds) However you decide to capture your environment as it transforms through the seasons, don't let the weather get you down, just see it as a challenge and decided what you can shoot in those conditions (whatever they may be)
The shot below was made right beside highway 742 between Kananaskis and Canmore in Alberta, Canada. You can see the road buried under ice (as it usually is in the winter) to the left of the shot. Ahead Mt Nestor fills the storm filled skies and provides perfect balance to the weight of ice on the right.
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