Backroads of Alberta

One of the reasons I travel a lot by car rather than plane is to see places around on the road to the destination. Unfortunately, in most cases once I’m behind the wheel I get a tunnel effect when I see nothing but the road with its final destination ahead. For some reason getting to the destination as fast as possible becomes the only goal.

On the trip to Alberta I actively fought an urge to drive from point A directly to point B. Instead I was taking some backroads, sometimes unpaved, moving slowly looking at things around. It was taking me much longer but it was a more satisfying study of Alberta outside its famous national parks and big cities. Here is a small selection of photographs of rural Alberta.

Being Spontaneous

The main destination of my recent trip to Alberta, Canada was Abraham Lake. The reason Abraham Lake is so attractive to photographer in winter is because of unique phenomenon of frozen bubbles. While the lake freezes up in winter plants at the bottom of the lake produce methane gasses that come up to the ice and stay there frozen in ice while ice keeps growing downward. This creates fantastic surreal tri-dimensional structures in the ice sheet that covers the lake. There is also a persistent strong wind running thru the valley where the lake is located keeping ice clean of any snow. And the last but not least feature of this lake is winter is that it is artificial lake as the water is slowly drained from the lake in winter the ice cracks under its own weight.

It was quite scary standing on the ice when it cracks. The sounds of it ranged from a pitch high as if a guitar string was torn to a loud boom. The ice was very clean making me feel sometimes as if I was standing on water. And while consciously I understood there is thick ice under me, the sound of cracking ice made my subconscious scream RUN. So far subconscious was on a losing side.

The end of January when I went there turned out unusually warm there with temperatures rising up to 15C making ice melt at the top and thin ice walls separating layers of bubbles were melting away the fastest. On the second day of being at Abraham Lake I witnessed one of the photographers falling thru the ice while standing one one of the spots with high concentration of frozen bubbles. Fortunately, he did not fall of the way thru and was able to get out before anyone of the people rushing to help him (including me) were able to get to him. The whole incident seemed to be forgotten rather quickly. Even the photographer who fell actually staying on the ice and continuing to take pictures even in partially wet clothes.

But it scared me enough that I decided not to go on ice anymore. So, I set off to explore areas around Abraham Lake and find some other interesting spots to photograph. It proven a hard task. The warm temperatures melted most of the snow leaving the ground bare and unappealing to me. Yet I was stopping my car at any parking spot or trailhead, walking out and looking for opportunities. One of such spots was near river bed. It had been probably quite wild river in spring and summer. In winter it was lots of crumbled ice sheets lying on the ground. I thought I might be able to find a line in the ice cracks that would lead to the mountains in the distance.

While searching for that composition I saw a moon rising above the mountains. On a whim took a picture of it. I took only one picture. It was unusual for me. Typically, I work thru composition taking lots of images until I feel like I cannot get it any better. This time I just felt the image was ok not no more than that. Only when I was editing images from the trip at home I saw that image and thought it was beautiful. There are so many elements that work together and yet there is simplicity in it which attracts me.

Moonrise over Canadian Rockies

Moonrise over Canadian Rockies

Imaginary Worlds: Soothing Moon

While Sun for me is something strong and powerful, Moon is soothing and quite. It is on the other side of the world. Dreamy and sleepy. What can be better than sit at night covered with a cozy blanket looking at shimmering surreal world in a moonlight.

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The Magic of Full Moon

It so happened that our travel coincided with full moon. Every morning for a few days I was going to the same spot and watching moon setting below horizon right before sunrise. It was majestic.

These three very much different photos were taken at the same place. (Click on the images to see them in larger size.)

Till Pitch Black

I was looking thru some old photographs and found this three that I saw as a great illustration of what I like to say about photographing sunset: it is not over until it is pitch black. All three photos were made a top of Hurricane Hill at different times.

The sky was clear. The evening started with sun slowly setting behind mountain peaks. The streaks of sunshine were breaking thru mountain tops, highlighting mist rising from the bottom of valleys.

Sunset on Hurricane Hill

Once the last light of sun vanished the valleys were filled with blue cool tones of shade, while the sky was still deep orange. A few minutes after the moon rose just where the sun disappeared.

Quiet Evening

Later when it got so dark, you could barely see anything deer started gathering at the top against last warm tones of sunset on the horizon.

Deer at Hurricane Hill