Monday, January 21, 2008

Snowy Trail

Canon EOS with 300mm - f8 - 1/500sec @ ISO 100

God I hate these dreary skies I thought as I worked my way east along Range Road 274 looking for owls or anything that looked interesting to shoot photos of. I had been roaming the backroads for a hour with no success, although the issue was the fact that the skies were overcast with muddy light in all directions. I finally had enough and decided to work my way over to Highway 9 and head northeast towards Drumheller a ways and hopefully leave these skies behind. I scrolled my GPS into a wider view to get a bigger picture as to where I was and quickly plotted strategy as to how to get off this backroad. No problem, in short order I was on Highway 9 and headed north. Of course I had not planned on getting to far from home so I needed gas. After refueling in Beiseker I made the turn on to Highway 72 and was headed east with still no real destination in mind, although I decided to go as far as Horseshoe Canyon before maybe making my way back over to Rosebud on the Rosebud River.

The skies actually started to clear somewhat as I drove into blowing snow with -24 Celsius indicated on my truck thermometer. As I drove I carried on a conversation on my hf radio with Don-VA7DJ on Vancouver Island and Tim-VE6BZ in Carmangay, AB who upon hearing the conditions I found myself in were concerned for me. No problem I said as I had grown up in Southern Saskatchewan where this was just another normal day of winter driving. I drove along wearing only my new favorite hoody along with jeans. Jennifer had bought me the hoody for Christmas and she had a camera silk-screened on the front of the hoody that drew comments while I was in the Camera Store lately (Chris wants a hoody Jennifer). Of course I wasn't worried as I have enough winter clothing with me to stand outside in -30 Celsius temperatures for hours.

Coming up on the Rosebud turnoff, I decided to miss on Horseshoe Canyon and instead turned south towards Rosebud. If you have not been to Rosebud before, do yourself a favour and make the drive one fine summer day. I think of the book "Who Has Seen The Wind" by W.O. Mitchel each and every time I visit this very unique hamlet. Rosebud is nestled in a valley besides the Rosebud River along the badlands near Horseshoe Canyon. Rosebud is probably best known for its Opera House that has become a Canadian destination for quality live theater.

Leaving Rosebud behind, I decided to take the 564 west which would take me in to Calgary if I did not stray off of this road. I had just made the jog in the 564 where it crosses Highway 21 when I spotted what in the distance looked like a Snowy Owl sitting on a utility pole. Yup- it was and being that I had been keeping a eye out for Snowys all morning I was ready for this owl, with a custom setting dialed in on my camera just for flight photos of birds of prey.

Now I have to tell you my hoody and bare fingers left a lot to be desired as I stood in a snowdrift in the roadside ditch trying to spook this Snowy into flying for me. She wanted nothing of this. I read a book lately where a fishing rod is used with bait dragged along the ground to entice owls into attacking enabling some of the cool photos in the book. My fingers were growing numb quickly in the -20 Celsius temperatures and with the wind a factor ( I'm making excuses here) I found myself unprepared as the snowy finally had enough of me and launched with the outcome, I clipped her wings because of having to much lens in place which caused me to lose sight of her momentarily quickly putting the snowy out of range of good flight photos. Of course the lighting left a lot to be desired as far as the vibrant colors clear skies would have given me. Looking on the bright side of it, I took a GPS reading as to the location of this snowy, as these Arctic visitors are territorial and will hunt within their territory and drive other owls out of it. On the bright side of things, the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds as I neared Calgary giving me the lighting I desired though somewhat late. Wouldn't you know it however I still managed to pick up a number of photos that I will show you on another day. See-ya later.

No comments yet