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Summer tiger lily

A Tiger Lily shines in the sun after an early morning rain storm in the boreal forest of western Alberta, Canada.

Fresh rain on sum­mer Tiger Lily

This one is for my wife today.

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Boreal understory

A Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) spreads it's fronds across the understory vegetation in a boreal mixedwood forest in west-central Alberta, Canada

Bore­al fern

A good friend of mine, an old BC Parks nat­u­ral­ist, shared with me the fol­low­ing short verse that I am always remind­ed of when I come across ferns like the ones in this pho­to:

Fring­ing the stream at every turn,
Swing lo’ the wav­ing fronds of fern.
From strong cleft and mossy sod,
Pale asters spring, and gold­en­rod!

It’s a great lit­tle rhyme, and the excla­ma­tion mark that Al added at the end cap­tures the feel­ing of com­ing across one of these lit­tle spots just per­fect­ly. Try to get out this week­end, and find one of these for your­self!

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Boreal lake sunrise

The sky glows orange and purple in the first light of dawn over Namur Lake. Taken from a helicopter over the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada

Sun­rise over Namur Lake

I took this pho­to on my way to work ear­li­er this sum­mer — I just hap­pened to be lucky enough to be com­mut­ing in a heli­copter out to a gor­geous old-growth bore­al mixed­wood site about 100km north-west of Fort McMur­ray to do bird sur­veys for the morn­ing! It was a neat expe­ri­ence to get to spend so much time fly­ing over the bore­al land­scape that I know so well from the ground, and to get a bit of a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on things. I’m sure I’ll print and share here a few more pho­tos from my past cou­ple shifts up there.

I notice when I look through my pho­to archives, that my colour palette tends to be rather sub­dued, even som­bre at times. If I then look through the pho­tographs made by oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers that I’ve marked as my favourites, (pri­mar­i­ly on the ter­rif­ic pho­tog­ra­phy-shar­ing web­site 500px.com (here’s my 500px col­lec­tion and my favourites from oth­er 500px pho­tog­ra­phers)) I notice that the over­all impres­sion is very sim­i­lar — I guess it turns out that’s just what I’m most drawn to… So, for today’s print I decid­ed to choose an image with a bit of colour.

I chose this pho­to in par­tic­u­lar because of the bright, high­ly sat­u­rat­ed orange/red band on the hori­zon. When Light­room 4 was released (the soft­ware I use for 95% of my pro­cess­ing), I’d read about its new soft-proof­ing abil­i­ty (here’s anoth­er good arti­cle as a pdf), but nev­er actu­al­ly used it before. I was pret­ty sure the intense warm colours in this image would be out of gamut for my print­er and paper com­bo that I’m using for this Dai­ly Print project (an Epson 3880 and Can­son Bary­ta Pho­tographique). Sure enough, Light­room was show­ing me clip­ping warn­ings, but with just a lit­tle finess­ing (low­er sat­u­ra­tion and high­lights, increase vibrance and con­trast, tweak tone curve, etc), I got it look­ing good, and not show­ing any clip­ping. I ran the print off, and was quite impressed how close­ly the print matched my mon­i­tor. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing the print in the day­light tomor­row…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Reflections on Emerson Lake

Tall shoreline spruce are reflected in the glassy calm surface of Emerson Lake in northwestern Alberta

Spruce reflec­tions in Emer­son Lake

I made this pho­to­graph last sum­mer at Emer­son Lakes, eas­i­ly one of the most beau­ti­ful camp­grounds I’ve stayed at in Alber­ta. The week­end I was there was per­fect for camp­ing, yet we still had the place near­ly to our­selves. There are sev­er­al lakes, all sur­round­ed by steep ridges (unusu­al for bore­al Alber­ta) with a hik­ing trail weav­ing around them. Sun­dance Provin­cial Park is near­by with more hik­ing (to hoodoos!), and even a mul­ti-day back­pack­ing route. I can’t rec­om­mend this spot enough if you like qui­et, out-of-the-way camp­ing spots.

The detail I like best about this pho­to is the line angling up and left from just above the shore­line on the right. The line is ini­tial­ly, and most strong­ly, cre­at­ed by the fall­en spruce trunk but in the cen­tre of the frame, the fall­en tree becomes hid­den but the visu­al line con­tin­ues along first one branch and then, more weak­ly still, anoth­er branch. I find that this angled line and its reflec­tion, cre­ate a sub­tle point of inter­est for the eye to fol­low through the oth­er­wise very ver­ti­cal com­po­si­tion.

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Greyscale tones in a boreal lake

Reflections of clouds, a dark shoreline and ripples in the water combine to create a full range of tones on the surface of a small boreal lake

Grey­tones in bore­al lake

I took this pho­to­graph at one of the five lakes in Emer­son Lakes Provin­cial Park, north­west of Edson, Alber­ta — a great lit­tle place that was almost com­plete­ly desert­ed the week­end I was there. If you don’t mind a lit­tle bit of grav­el road, I would def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this spot for a qui­et bore­al retreat.

Although the mid­dle of the after­noon is not nor­mal­ly the best time of day for mak­ing pho­tographs of the land­scape, great pho­tographs are still out there — and (if you ask me) any pho­tog­ra­ph­er that tells you oth­er­wise isn’t look­ing hard enough. In this image, made at just past 4pm on a nice sun­ny day, I just love how the lake holds near­ly the full range of tones from the near­ly black shad­ows along the shore­line to the bright white reflec­tions of the high cir­rus clouds and the mid­tones of the shal­low lakebed itself — all mixed togeth­er by the slight breeze caus­ing the rip­ples on the water’s sur­face.

Add in a cou­ple Bonaparte’s Gulls, a pair of Belt­ed King­fish­ers, and a cho­rus of song­birds — and you’ve got your­self a pret­ty good spot to sit for a while, mak­ing pho­tographs as the clouds shift by (which is exact­ly what I did…)

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Golden sunrise on boreal lake

The first golden yellow rays of sunrise light up the far shore of a small boreal lake closely surrounded by dense spruce forest

Gold­en sun­light on spruce shore­line

This pho­to­graph is from a gor­geous morn­ing that I spent in the Obed Lake Provin­cial Park in west­ern Alber­ta. This is not actu­al­ly Obed Lake itself, but one of the small­er lakes in the park. There were loons swim­ming around, spar­rows and war­blers singing, and it was too chilly still for the mos­qui­toes to be fly­ing — per­fect.

The yel­low colour in the image is actu­al­ly toned down a lit­tle from what it looked like straight out the cam­era — it was real­ly yel­low. (I guess that’s why they call dawn and dusk the “gold­en hour”.)

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Great Gray Owl hunting from thin aspen

A Great Grey Owl listens for rodents under the snow while hunting from a thin aspen sapling

Great grey owl hunt­ing from thin aspen sapling

The pho­tographs from my two pre­vi­ous posts were both tak­en while I was doing owl sur­veys and wait­ing for the sun to set (with cam­era at the ready, of course). So I thought I’d post an image of what we were out there look­ing for.

I don’t shoot a lot of wildlife, but I sim­ply could not resist fill­ing up a mem­o­ry card while watch­ing this owl hunt for rodents under the thick, spring snow. It was amaz­ing to watch him (or her, I’m not sure) lis­ten­ing from the tops of these small aspen trees before swoop­ing down and div­ing feet-first into the snow after his prey. I had the plea­sure of watch­ing from a dis­tance for over an hour before he final­ly gave up, or got full, and slow­ly moved off.

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