QR Code Business Card

Mushrooms at Ministik

I took a great walk through Min­is­tik Lake Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary yes­ter­day afternoon—always one of my favourite places to pho­to­graph (click here to see why). The weath­er we’ve had this year has been just right for grow­ing mush­rooms (warm days, lots of after­noon show­ers), and there was a fan­tas­tic selec­tion of beau­ti­ful species on show. I’ll not write too much, just post a bunch of pho­tos to inspire those of you who—like myself—have both pho­to­graph­ic and myco­log­i­cal ten­den­cies, to go out and find some fun­gi.

P.S. My mush­room ID skills are not ter­ri­ble, but do not take my word that these are what I say they are. Instead, I’d rec­om­mend tak­ing the word of Helene M.E. Schalk­wijk-Barend­sen in her gor­geous book Mush­rooms of North­west North Amer­i­ca by local Edmon­ton pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny, Lone Pine.

And, on that note, if you think I’ve got­ten the ID wrong on any of these or you can be more spe­cif­ic (latin names would be great!) I would real­ly appre­ci­ate a note left in the com­ments.

Small boreal waterfall

Small boreal waterfall in feathermoss

Small bore­al water­fall in feath­er­moss

It’s been a busy sum­mer, but I’m slow­ly start­ing to work my way through all the pho­tographs that I made dur­ing my time in Banff and in the bore­al for­est of north-west­ern Alber­ta. This pho­to­graph is of one of my favourite things to come across while walk­ing through the forest—a small creek flow­ing over a lit­tle water­fall. You can usu­al­ly hear them a few steps before you see them and it’s such a peace­ful, relax­ing sound—birds in the back­ground, cool morn­ing breeze in the tops of the spruce—beautiful.

One of the big chal­lenges of pho­tograph­ing in the bore­al is that there is so much detail—understory plants, fall­en leaves, twigs, etc. that it is some­times hard to con­cen­trate the focus of the view­er on the intend­ed sub­ject of the pho­to­graph. In this case, I used a fair­ly heavy vignetting in post-pro­cess­ing to dark­en the detail from the cor­ners and con­cen­trate the atten­tion to the water and moss. I have a port­fo­lio of bore­al pho­tog­ra­phy where I used anoth­er, more exper­i­men­tal tech­nique to achieve the same goal. Click here to have a look at that port­fo­lio.

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

Magpie tracks in fresh snow

The imprint of a magpies wing and tail are left behind in fresh snow

Mag­pie wing­print

After a cou­ple cen­time­ters of fresh, pow­dery snow, I went for a walk at the Strath­cona Sci­ence Park along the North Saskatchewan Riv­er. In one area there were near­ly a dozen spots where a mag­pie had dropped into the snow, leav­ing these beau­ti­ful impres­sions of its wing tips and long tail—thrown into beau­ti­ful detail by the low angle of the sun these days. I couldn’t tell what it was after under the snow, and I didn’t see any oth­er mag­pie tracks out­side of this one small area. If you have ever seen some­thing sim­i­lar, I’d love to hear you think this bird might have been up to.

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

Wintery details

Frost and snow cover a dense tangle of thin branches near Edmonton, Alberta

Tan­gle of win­ter branch­es II

Here’s anoth­er detail-ori­ent­ed image tak­en dur­ing our recent spell of grey, over­cast win­ter days. As I men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous post, when the light is dif­fused so even­ly by the low, bright stra­tus clouds that are com­mon over cen­tral Alber­ta in the win­ter (espe­cial­ly the past few weeks), it’s often these close-up, detail ori­ent­ed com­po­si­tions that I find work best.

I don’t com­mon­ly con­vert images to black and white, and even less often do I process them quite as heav­i­ly as I have here. While the con­trast was fair­ly strong to begin with, I’ve “crushed” the darks all the way down, and bumped the back­ground sky all the way up, to real­ly empha­size the some­what abstract pat­tern of the tan­gled branch­es, accen­tu­at­ed by the lin­ing of snow and frost. Per­haps I’ll also post the orig­i­nal ver­sion as well, and I would love to hear your com­ments as to which you pre­fer.

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

Winter stratus

Frost covers birch catkins at Ministik Lake Sanctuary near Edmonton, Alberta

Branch­es and catkins against a flat win­ter sky

In cen­tral Alber­ta the cold snap is over, and a pro­longed case of the “win­ter-stra­tus” has set in—stratus clouds, that is. These are low, fea­ture­less clouds and in win­ter, when there isn’t much mois­ture, they are gen­er­al­ly light grey to near­ly white. Some­times, like yes­ter­day after­noon, they’ll lift a lit­tle to where you might call them alto­stra­tus, and you’re more like­ly to catch a lit­tle break for the sun to peak through. These are prob­a­bly the most com­mon clouds (stra­tus and alto­stra­tus) over Edmon­ton dur­ing the win­ter when there’s not enough solar ener­gy to build a decent cumu­lus cloud. (I think I may be let­ting the cloud-watch­er nerd in me show a lit­tle here).

Pho­to­graph­i­cal­ly speak­ing, stra­tus clouds make the light per­fect­ly flat and even, which can be both a curse and a bless­ing. Gen­er­al­ly, the con­trast of side light and shad­ows makes for more dra­mat­ic images than the flat light under a stra­tus ceil­ing, but I find that some­times detail-ori­ent­ed com­po­si­tions ben­e­fit from the “huge soft­box in the sky” effect. I enjoy the chal­lenge of find­ing these pho­tographs on days that would nor­mal­ly be con­sid­ered pho­to­graph­ic busts.

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

Grouse tracks

Fresh Ruffed Grouse footprints in deep snow at Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Grouse tracks in fresh snow

I was sent a pho­to recent­ly of an uniden­ti­fied bird out at Elk Island Nation­al Park that turned out to be a Ruffed Grouse. The same day I had been out tak­ing pho­tographs at Min­is­tik Lake Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary, which is just south of Elk Island, and had come across a fair num­ber of grouse tracks in the dust­ing of fresh snow that had fall­en overnight (this pho­to was tak­en at Min­is­tik, but a cou­ple years ago). The tracks are quite dis­tinc­tive with the wide snow­shoe-like toes, and it’s inter­est­ing to see where the birds come and go. Keep an eye out for these next time you’re in the fresh snow.

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

The advantages of ice fog

Ice fog frozen on alder saplings

Ice fog frozen on alder saplings

Here’s anoth­er pho­to that I took last sat­ur­day dur­ing our cold snap. On real­ly cold days I like to go make pho­tographs at the Strath­cona Sci­ence Provin­cial Park just east of Edmon­ton. Their is a warm water out­flow a lit­tle upstream from the park which keeps the riv­er par­tial­ly open. The mist com­ing from the riv­er coats the banks, and if the sun is out, the effect can be fantastic—and very chilly look­ing.

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