Ribbon Falls and Bear Encounter

Was planning on hiking Galatea, only to find out that it’s closed for environmental reasons. Suppose a lesson in checking trail reports instead of just trailpeak before heading into the mountains, but we were in Kananaskis with a closed trail and no plan.

Decided on Ribbon Falls, an easy yet long hike whose trailhead was only a few minutes away. Generally don’t look twice at trails rated ‘easy’ but was pleasantly surprised to learn this was a 22km round trip hike, so would hopefully satisfy my thirst for adventure in a pinch.

Turned out to be a gorgeous hike into a secluded valley with only one way in and one way out, and being the cold rainy day it was, wasn’t busy at all. The first thing we saw that inspired me to unpack my camera and try being a photographer was this adorable baby squirrel. I’ve never seen a baby squirrel before so was pretty excited that it didn’t run away from us as soon as we stopped, and hung out just long enough to snap a pic before some other passing hikers scared it away.

Baby-Squirrel-web

The rest of the first half of the hike was exceptionally beautiful. I love rainy days in the mountains, very dramatic.  It was pouring rain on us for a few hours straight so I didn’t take my camera out often. The only times were at the first falls about a quarter of the way where we stopped for lunch, and at the halfway point which is the namesake of the hike.

 

We kept a good pace on the way back. The temperature was dropping fast and we were already starting to get a tad chilly. Although we had waterproof jackets our legs were getting pretty soaked and knew we were still 11kms in the backcountry and had a long ways to go. Nothing of note happened for the first 9kms of the way back, until two kilometers away from the parking lot we had a ‘first’. We turned a corner and saw the couple who had been in front of us stopped and looking into the woods ahead of them. As soon as we made it to them before they could barely say they saw a bear, out comes this little black bear onto the path roughly 40 yards in front of us, right in the middle of the trail.

If I had my camera in my hands at the time (I hike with my camera packed away in my bag) I’m sure I would have taken a shot, but with a bear walking towards you, blocking your way 2kms away from your vehicle, grabbing your mace seems like a better idea than grabbing your camera. Mace in hand, the four of us backed away around a couple corners before coming to the ONLY intersection in the entire trail. How lucky we are the bear wasn’t 200 meters further West or we would have been stranded out there, but the way it all worked out we only had to take an extra 2-3 kilometers to get back to the parking lot. I should probably be thankful my first encounter with a bear (while on a trail) turned out to be rather uneventful. I like running into them from the safety of a vehicle a lot more.

After leaving our parking area and deciding there were too many photo opportunities to still be had, away we went down highway 40 to see what we could find. Here’s a shot of the east side of Mount Kidd covered in cloud. I have another shot I absolutely love from a half hour later, but I like it so much I’ve decided to make a post about just it, so come by tomorrow and check that out too

Cloudy-Mount-Kidd-web

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

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Blue Tree Swallow

Saw a fox a few evenings ago. Returned to the location the next day and found the den. Will be stalking that location out this spring to try to catch some more glimpses of it, and if I’m lucky maybe a picture.

While driving to the location of where I saw the fox in the country, Dani saw these beautiful almost flourescent blue birds sitting on a fence and we knew we had to stop and try. Took a good 20 minutes of me creeping closer, scaring them away, waiting until they landed again and repeating until I was close enough to snap some decent pics.

While watching them I thought they were Barn Swallows, but after looking into it and realizing blue barn swallows all have a rust colored neck I decided they must be tree swallows.

Blue-tree-Swallow-web

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Afterglow

Afterglow1web

I think I like this picture a lot. It will take a few weeks of looking at over and over to know for sure if it’s one of my new favourites, but it’s definitely a contender.  No cool story behind it, which takes a few points off it in the long run. Was taken in a very front-country location right off the road leading up to Upper Kananaskis Lake. Actually passed right by the location only catching a glimpse of it without stopping. Drove a good 5kms before (with the help of Dani who also saw something) decided what the hell, may as well backtrack and try getting a good picture from the location of the momentary glimpse. Pretty glad we did! As I was sitting on the ground taking photos, every car that drove by slowed right down or stopped in anticipation that I was shooting wildlife, only to give me a weird look when they realized there wasn’t anything there except a mud covered marshy area that probably appeared pretty ugly to most people. It’s good to know not everyone can see what I see.

Every picture in this post was taken in Kananaskis last weekend (May 15th) after our photoshoot (see last post) was over. Crazy to think how beautiful out it was a mere 6 days ago considering today I’ve been periodically going outside to shake the snow off my plants and trees so they don’t buckle over under the weight. That’s may long weekend for you though, and we desperately need the moisture here in Alberta, and with the snow it will slowly soak into the ground where it’s needed instead of running over the parched landscape and into storm drains. Guess we’ll take what we can get, and now at least I don’t feel anxious for not camping or doing something fun and instead sitting in my basement in pj pants working on pictures sipping on an Irish Cream coffee. I think I’d make a good fiction writer, at the very least I look the part.

Last Christmas, being the newly house-poor people Dani and I are, I decided that instead of spending money we don’t have on a paid-for present, I’d just make her a coupon for a couples photo shoot instead! I’ve got the camera and the talent, may as well use both on my girl and try being romantic. I thought I had the perfect plan and was excited for her to see my thrifty side. Christmas day came and Dani, after ripping open my gift-wrapped, paper thin present (yes, I wrap homemade gift cards in wrapping paper instead of putting them inside hallmark cards and envelopes) she matter-of-factly states, “I think our whole life is a couples photoshoot”

She won that one. Here’s a few shots from our never ending couples photoshoot.

 

Very, very rarely can a mountain in and of itself make a great photo.  No matter how beautiful it is, you still need to find something in the foreground to give your photo some depth. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, if you’re in the mountains, prairies or by the sea, any grand landscape you find yourself in is nothing more than just a background to the smaller details. The next three photos are an example of this. They’re all taken in the same direction with the same mountain behind, yet they’re all completely different. When trying to compose a photo always remember to give your audience more than one thing to look at. Beautiful far away mountains are only one thing, so put your head down every now and then and scan your immediate surroundings for something to add to the photo. Can be a rock, driftwood, plant, who knows. I apparently like driftwood.

 

For reasons I don’t understand when I post a picture with it as the only one (the very top one) there’s no way to click on it to view it full size. Also when people share a post on social media WordPress takes a random image instead of my featured image to make as the thumbnail. Here’s the first image again but now in an album so it can be viewed full size, and hopefully also be the image selected as a share thumbnail.  One of the things about social media that pissed me off enough to delete all of them was the lack of control over everything, and now with WordPress I’m starting to have the same issues. Although I’m sure this has more to do with my lack of knowing what I’m doing.

I’ll just update my website soon. At least I can make it do whatever I want! Check it out.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

 

Kananaskis Shoot

There’s a small waterfall and wishing well on the east side of Highway 40 that I’ve never before stopped at. Drove by a million times but never had a real reason to pull over. When I suggested doing my friends engagement photos in Kananaskis and they happily agreed, I decided it would be a great location to pull over and snap some pics.

Turned out to be a GREAT place to take some family photos. Almost all of my favourite photos of the day were taken within a few steps of the same location. Ended up at Upper Kananaskis Lake and got some more good ones (my favourite of which isn’t even really a ‘family photo’ but a candid shot of them throwing rocks in the lake) and just all in all had a really good day with great people in the mountains.

I’m not going to ramble on and on for this post, I have lots of landscape shots from later in the day to write a long post about. This is just a sneak peek post for them. Next time I shoot these fantastic people they’ll be married! Congrats again you guys!

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Pulsating Aurora (Northern Lights)

 

Pulsating-Aurora-webHas been quite some time since I’ve been lucky enough to shoot some aurora! There’s only been a few solar storms this year, and it’s always been cloudy in my area so I haven’t been out in a while. Last night/this morning was definitely an exception though.

When I first started shooting northern lights and witnessing the different formations that can be made, I wondered why there wasn’t different classifications to define the different structures. The more I shot, and in turn more I read about Aurorae (plural), I realized there ARE classifications for the different kinds!

it’s surprisingly difficult to research the different types. Most info is academic and written in physics jargon. I think the lack of basic and easily understandable info on the subject is due to the fact that we (science) is only beginning to understand and document/study the different types and how each one is formed. The classification of this phenomenon is still in its infancy and therefor doesn’t have tons of source material to research and rewrite in simple terms for people everywhere to understand and access.

There are two main classifications of Aurora: Diffuse and Discrete.

Diffuse is the most common type. Whether we can see it visible to the naked eye or not it is almost always present in the auroral zone. I have been training myself to see it for almost two years now of chasing aurorae so it is very obvious to me now when there’s some in the northern sky. Almost every night in the winter (if you’re far away from city lights and there’s no moon) close to the northern horizon it can be seen. I’m sure most people who live even in the northern united states have seen it and not thought anything about it. It looks like a faint haze, like a city’s lights glowing or the pre-dawn sunlight just peaking over the horizon, except to the north!

The second type is Discrete Aurora. This is the type that’s breathtaking to watch, and is further broken down into smaller classifications.

The first and most common of these sub categories are “quiet auroral arcs” which like their name suggests, are arcs of green that just kind of hang in the northern sky without any movement. They look very similar to a diffuse auroral glow, except have more defined edges that make the arc more prominent than just random glowing.

Next are “deformed auroral arcs”. I think these are the type that when most people think about Northern Lights, this is the kind they’re thinking about. They start as a quiet arc but then as they get more energized start swirling, waving, folding and in general dancing around.

There are two more types called “Auroral Bulges” and “Omega Bands” that I don’t understand enough about to try explaining to you. Another phenomenon that I’m not going to talk about because I don’t know enough about is “proton arcs”

The last type of Discrete Aurora, and the namesake of this post, is “Pulsating Aurora” I’ve only seen it three times, but is one of my favourite ones to watch. Unlike deformed arcs I think Pulsating aurora generally has a much less saturated color, sometimes almost looking glowing white instead of any color at all. What makes it so interesting to watch is the speed at which it moves, and pulsates. It’s not bubbly, it’s jagged. It looks like radiation. it’s a visible manifestation of the geomagnetic field. if our eyes could see radiation as visible light, I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like. It’s nearly impossible to explain the feeling I get when watching Pulsating Aurora. The first time I saw it I momentarily thought I took some mushrooms earlier that night and forgot about it. That’s how mind blowing these shows can be.

Last night I’m pretty sure I saw every different kind of aurora I just talked about happening at different times, or sometimes even a couple happening simultaneously to another. The most prominent features in the first picture above are caused by the Pulsating Aurora, and is one of my favourite aurora photos ever, so that’s why I named the post after it. Here’s the first picture again to look at larger and a couple more to to treat you all to something at the end of this long read. They also were taken this morning, but at times of slightly less activity.

Feel free to leave questions or comments! or go and check out my web page, there’s lots more night/aurora pictures there (and many, many other things too)

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com