What a Day!

Fall is one of my favourite times of the year to be out shooting here in Alberta. We’re fortunate enough as it is any time of the year to have such a varied landscape with everything from the Rocky mountains to the expansive prairies, but even more so during that time between summer and full on winter. Autumn brings with it shorter days (as in sunrises you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to see!), crisp frosty mornings, colourful leaves, great skies, and weather conditions that can change from one season to the next in the blink of an eye.

On a recent trip to Cypress Hills in southern Alberta with Samantha Chrysanthou, Darwin Wiggett, and Peter Carroll we experienced some truly classic Alberta fall conditions. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts from the trip, we had quite a mixed bag of weather conditions and it seemed like Mother Nature threw just about everything she could at us during those few days. There was one particularly interesting day that I spent out shooting together with Peter that really summed up what shooting in Alberta in the fall is all about.

Let me take you through our day:

We started off making images along the shoreline of Elkwater Lake. The snow had let up overnight and we were treated to heavy fog and wonderfully moody light.

Here’s a shot of Peter patiently holding still on the boardwalk for me:

From there we headed out from the town of Elkwater, not really knowing where we were going but optimistic as to what we’d find. Fortunately for us, the gates leading into the park (which had previously been closed due to the high forest fire danger) had been opened and we were able to make our way in and explore. The fresh dusting of snow on the coloured leaves in the soft overcast light was pretty hard to pass up. We stopped at several different spots in the park to make images of the frosty forest.

As the sun made its way higher in the sky and the clouds began to break up we decided to move on beyond the park and explore some more of the surrounding area. The broken clouds, dappled light, and and soft colours of the prairie fields sparked an idea from Peter to try some abstract motion blur images. The idea was to just to convey more of a feeling of the prairies as opposed to a more literal interpretation. We had some good fun seeing what showed up on the LCD after swinging our telephoto lenses back and forth! The keeper rate on these was pretty low, but I did find a couple that I liked.

From there we made the decision to visit Red Rock Coulee and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening there. After a cup of warm soup and some hot chocolate in the parking lot we got to work making images. This is one of the most unique and interesting landscapes I’ve ever seen. Having never been there before, we wandered around for quite a while just taking the place in and eyeing up the potential for images as sunset approached. Here is one of the earlier images I made:

Here’s another one of Pete looking much warmer this time. It’s hard to believe this was taken just less than 10 hours later than the last shot of him above.

As the sun made it’s way down towards the horizon, we were treated to some really nice evening light and sunset colour. A great way to finish off the day!

As the last of the light faded, we made our way back towards the campground in Elkwater feeling tired, hungry, and yet very satisfied with where the day had taken us. So much of the enjoyment in landscape photography for me comes from the adventure of never knowing exactly how things are going to go or what you’re going to end up with. This day was all about the unknown for us, working in locations we’d never been before, and under such a variety of conditions. It truly was a challenging and rewarding day, and a ton of fun too!

Thanks for coming along on this one!

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