Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One Day In October

"Quite a switch from Saturday morning" (Recent Posts - I Thought It Just Left) I mentally said to myself as I looked out of my bedroom window and scanned the skies above. The Waning Crescent moon hung overhead with stars visible in the very early morning skies that at 5:30am were still inky black. Normally I would be getting up to head off to work, however with the Thanksgiving weekend still in play, I had the day off. Of course, It goes without saying that no matter what, I would be taking my photography gear along. I had not made any plans, as we had guests over on Sunday evening, and I really hadn't expected to see clear skies upon getting up this morning. Also, with the temperature hovering around -16 Celsius as I left the house, I would not be doing any cleaning up in the yard as I had planned on this weekend. I dislike not having any idea as to where I plan on heading for in my quest for photos, as I usually end up driving miles and shooting nothing but mundane photos. Having nothing to lose anyway as I was off work, I stopped and picked up a coffee and headed east. Slowly, the cab of my truck thawed out and with the radio playing softly, I enjoyed sipping on my coffee as I drove east on Highway 1. I began to formulate a plan as I passed Chestermere Lake and with the clearing skies, I realized that my first stop would be McKinnon Flats where being familiar with the valley that the Bow river flows through, there was the possibility of some interesting photo opportunities as the sun came up. I made the turn on to secondary highway 791 and drove south to the village of Indus, where I picked up Highway 22 east. The morning was shaping up nice with ground fog visible off in the distance, giving me hope as to what conditions that I would find at McKinnon Flats. As I crossed a rail-crossing I noticed a train approaching some distance off. I shut off the engine and quickly setup my camera in the open window of my pickup. After the train passed, I drove the short distance to the edge of the Breaks that overlook McKinnon Flats. There was some mist hanging near the river that I believed that I could use to my advantage, as long as the sun did its part. There was some cloud near the horizon, but nothing to serious. As the sun rose, I slowly worked my way down to the river, while stopping here and there for photos. Funny how some photos come about, I was parked on the edge of the river and framing a scene some distance down river waiting for the right lighting from the rising sun, when a pickup passed me and drove in to the scene that I had framed in my viewfinder. I was somewhat annoyed as the pick-up with two fisherman parked several hundred meters away and smack in the middle of the scene that I had framed. I was about to drive off, but sat watching the two fisherman rig up in the early morning light. Shortly there-after, the two fisherman waded into the Bow and my interest picked-up as I saw the opportunity for a replacement photo for the one they had cost me.I came away with a number of photos that I was pleased with and mentally forgave them for messing up my original photo. I headed back up the road that switch-backs out of the river valley and before long I was on Highway 22 headed west back to Calgary. With the time still early, I decided to by-pass Calgary and before long I was west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66 that takes you in to Kananaskis Country. As I made my way west, I was dazzled by the snow that in the bright sunshine, had me reaching for my sun-glasses. I normally do not like to wear sun-glasses while out shooting photographs, as it fools with your head as to what you are actually seeing, and it can have a influence as to how you shoot the scene. I was pleased as I approached the winter-gates at Elbow Falls, to find them still open as they shall be closed soon for the long winter ahead. As the road climbed to the summit, the snow accumulation was more than I would have expected for October 12th, however anything is possible when you live near the Canadian Rockies of Southern Alberta. On the radio, I was hearing that over-night low temperatures across Southern Alberta had set new records that would go in to the record books, with Waterton Park in the southwest corner of the province the new low-temperature record holder at -25 Celsius. Gotta love it, and the beautiful part is that sooner or later, new low temperature records will be set again sometime. I made numerous stops to shoot photos that had hints of fall mixed in with the snow that coated the landscape and made for neat photo opportunities. I had pulled over at the summit of Highway 66 where I had my camera and tripod set up capturing a photo, when a car coming up from the west side of the summit from Little Elbow stopped and the driver got out to tell me about the photo-op up ahead of a band of goats by the road.I laughed to myself and asked him if maybe he meant Bighorn Sheep. Well, he wasn't sure what they were, but he insisted that I should hurry before they were gone. With that, he drove off while I finished up with the photo that I was shooting. A kilometer down the road, I confirmed what I knew I would find. The goats turned out to be a herd of Bighorn Ewes that were hanging around a salt-lick near the road. I drove slowly past them so that they did not spook and continued down to the junction with Little Elbow and the Powderface Trail. I stopped at a marsh that I have had success shooting photos of moose of at one time or another. This marsh was dazzling in the sunlight with the fresh snow that coated all the deadfall that lie in and around the marsh. I fired off several test photos, knowing that the results would prove to be too harsh with the afternoon lighting. That reminded me that it was time to head for home with maybe a stop at the Elbow Valley Information Center, to check out their book selection for any new titles missing from my library. So all in all not a bad day for one day in October when winter came early.

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