Exotic Alberta? It sure aint the Serengeti Plain

There is a cattle pasture about twenty minutes from my driveway that I make a point of passing by when I’m out shooting landscapes.

I’ve photographed it over the years through the seasons. Yesterday morning I happened upon it just a few minutes before sunrise. Happily there weren’t any cattle in it at the time.

Every time I see it, this little quarter section of land reminds me of the Serengeti Plain in Africa. You know what I mean. The trees on the plain have been manicured and pruned over the years by all sorts of ungulates. Where I live the ungulates are not quite as exotic. Sometimes dairy cattle, other times Hereford beef cattle. I photographed this spot a year ago when the wildflowers were in bloom. That still hasn’t happened this year. Soon though.

When I pulled over to the side of the road the sun was close to the horizon. I guessed that there would be another ten minutes until it came up so I walked around the alder trees looking for a suitable foreground and also a tree to frame the top of the image with. As with the other foggy morning this year, almost no clouds were to be seen. For me that means that I have to crop the image a little lower. All of that blank blue sky above the fog is unattractive. When you do get fog and sparse cloud cover the results can be stunning as the tips of the clouds usually take on the color of the sunrise.

That was not to be on this day. I shot a lot before the sun came up hoping that one of the many different scenes would work for me.

Finally when the sun broke the horizon a beautiful star burst formed around the trees in the distance. With my wide lens there was no way that I’d get close enough to capture it before it disappeared so I continued looking for a suitable foreground and watching the sun rise ever higher.

Then the magic happened. The sun had already been visible for about three or four minutes and still held its’ golden glow. As the sun rose, rays of light started skipping across the dew covered grasses. Snap! That was it. I did a quick 360, looking around and decided to try another place while the sun was not too high.

With Wednesdays’ forecast for cloudy skies and rain, I won’t be out again for another day or two.

We’re entering the prime summer shooting weather on the prairies now with the mountains, at least the lower valleys coming into season in a couple of weeks. I’m thinking of giving that a go. Jasper here I come. LOL

Happy shooting,


Ps. a little bit of technical stuff. I’m trying out a new camera. Compared to my current, a high end Canon, this thing is incredible. I immediately noticed an increase in dynamic range and at 100 ISO absolutely no grain in the shadows. I’m interested in seeing how well it handles dark clouds, the really dark ones where I sometimes get banding in the grays. So far, the new camera has exceeded my expectations.

No filters were used to get these colors. I’ll keep repeating this for as long as I see BS posts on that filter blog about how great filters are for landscapes. Filters, aside from the occasional use of a polarizer or a neutral density filter are a waste of time and money. Besides, once you filter one of your photos, you can’t UNFILTER it. The damage is done. How many overly dark trees and mountain tops have I seen because the photographer wanted to darken his sky. He/she also darkened everything else above the horizon. Unnatural looking.

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~ by Dan Jurak on June 27, 2012.

11 Responses to “Exotic Alberta? It sure aint the Serengeti Plain”

  1. I will have to learn to see better. It’s sometimes hard to believe that the images are so close to Edmonton….

  2. Mac, I’m sure that you’ve driven past this place a few times. I have and it’s not often that I stop here. Weather and light. ANY place will look good with great weather and light. That’s why I don’t usually bother going out during the middle of the day.
    Thanks for visiting and commenting,

  3. nice photo, such beautiful light. sometime we are too familiar witht the scene to really see the beauty! we miss what we see everyday! it is important to stop and really look and your post today is a great reminder of that, thanks

  4. awesome photo. you notice places that others just see.

  5. …forgot to ask, is Nikon D800 or 800e??

  6. You’re so right.

  7. @ Rob, I think that one of the benefits of sharing what we know is that all of us can learn something new. What I do can be done anywhere.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

    BTW D800E. I don’t usually speak about brands of equipment because there is not a big difference usually from one brand to the next but this is a MAJOR leap in quality for landscape shooters. Anyone want to buy a bunch of old Canon lenses? LOL

  8. Ok I got to ask, what camera?

  9. Dan, I really like your composition and you’re right it looks like some beautiful landscape in Africa. When you find a spot do you wait for the sun? Or you move around and try to find other interesting view? I’m asking because when I shoot a scene with the sun, I don’t know if I should change place, or stick a one place, be patient, and wait for the sunset.

    I heard nice and positive comment about that D800E, but I cannot afford it… :(

  10. Anne, that’s a really good question. When I first started shooting landscapes, I would go out at anytime I could get away. I was attracted to clouds so I tended to go in the afternoon as they were building. By trial and error I found that the images that I liked best were the ones shot close to sunrise/sunset. Take this evening for example, the sun sets just after 10:00 p.m. I might leave the house at 9:40 p.m. and just drive around until just after sunset.

    I usually drive and watch the skies looking for any interesting clouds. If I see something that I like I follow then and THEN look for suitable foreground. If I were to pick a “good” spot and wait for the sun and clouds to get right, I think that I’m limiting what is available to me. For any sunrise/sunset outing I might get a half a dozen or more completely different looking photos.

    As an example, for the foggy morning that I shot last week, in under an hour there were close to a dozen unique photos. There are only so many “good” mornings and evenings in a year so I try to get as much out of them as I can.

    That’s what works for me. I can’t sit and wait for everything to be perfect, shoot it and then go home with only one scene. That’s probably more my personality than anything else.

    About the D800E, I could have shot for another half a dozen years with my 1DS MarkIII. There was nothing wrong with the images. Too many people have more camera than they will ever need. It’s really funny/sad to see some of the posters on dpreview website showing examples from D800’s and D800E’s. Most of the photos could be taken with a smart phone.

    The D800E is a very, very visible jump in image quality from my current camera. Not only that, it’s lighter and cost half as much as my Canon.

  11. Fabulous answer, I will definitely try to move around next time I go out shooting.

    I agree, it’s not the camera how creates the unique scene, it’s the artist behind it.;)

    Thanks again, Dan, and a great week-end!

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