Here’s a look at my favourite images from 2021! Usually it can take some time for me to follow up and edit images after shoots – they sit on the hard drives only to be uncovered at a later date. This has meant a lot of the work I produced this year was actually shot in prior years but this set was all shot/edited this year. Some incredible moments or compositions that I was quite excited about. All of them were photographed within 30 minutes of home here in The Canadian Rockies with the exception of two. One was even shot off our deck! A short description accompanies each one and they are in chronological order.
1. January 14th, 2021 I can’t quite remember the reason behind a long drive out along the Icefields Parkway on this day but I didn’t make many images. One of my last stops happened to be near Bow Lake at a pull out where a raven with a lot of character was obviously in charge. It spent a lot of time close to my car window interacting with me so I thought I’d try to use the long lens to capture a squawk up close. Instead I realized the 600mm would fill the frame with it’s feathers and I was just on the cusp of the closest focusing distance for the lens. Balancing the lens on the car’s open window I made this shot at a fairly slow shutter to keep the ISO as low as I could. The colours from the blue sky reflecting on the feathers were really interesting. Funnily he/she was responding to the shutter clicks as well. Eventually I packed up and left and the raven followed flying low alongside my vehicle for half a kilometre! Sony a7r3 Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 lens 600mm, f8, 1/125th second, ISO 800
2. January 15th, 2021 Scouting the current conditions at Lake Minnewanka for an upcoming private photography workshop I came across these interesting ice patterns. I enjoyed the curve here as well as the last sunlight of the day reflecting off the mountains creating a golden colour on the ice. A simple, more thoughtful image. Although I have a lot more showy images from 2021 this one resonated for a number of reasons. Texture, light, shape, a mindful composition, and that it’s quite abstract. Beyond those physical characteristics to me It also represents creating images without the need for external validation which is important for a photographer seeking to make unique, personal work and opens up a whole world of possibilities. Sony a7r3 Sony 70-200 f4 lens 200mm, f8, 1/200th second, ISO 400
3. March 3rd, 2021 Lenticular clouds over the Fairholme Range at sunset shot off our deck here in Canmore! Sunset was at 6.26pm and this was taken at 7.06pm, 40 minutes later on one of those days where the colour in the sky is never ending and leads into the pink, magenta spectrum’s. We had been out hiking on the other side of the valley and I had commented that it was a bit of a drab day photographically until I turned around upon exiting the forest and saw these epic lenticular clouds towering above. I nearly fell over myself. It was a race to get home at that point to get my camera gear which I’d left there on this occasion. Sony a7r3 Sony 70-200mm f4 lens 141mm, f8, 1/15th second, ISO 100, tripod
4. March 16th, 2021 Unintentionally I found this composition with several repeating arcs. A milky way panorama was my focus on this night and I wandered off down this arm of the reservoir looking for a darker section of town which is becoming harder and harder to find as Canmore grows and more lights are installed. Although I envisioned the panorama arching over the waterway I didn’t foresee the other arches (the left hand reflected headland, as well as Grotto Mountain and Its reflection) so it was an unexpected bonus found during the stitching process which grew on me over time. Sony a7r3 Sigma 14mm f1.8 lens 14mm, f1.8, 30 seconds, ISO 1600, tripod, 8 shot stitched panorama
5. March 19th, 2021 I was drawn to this tree during some exploring after sunrise. A bluebird landed on it shortly before I took this shot signifying something special to come. The wind picked up and blew the storm that had been sitting on the mountains out over me. Before getting soaked with the first spring rainfall I captured the full arch of a rainbow over the tree. My heart was racing, I had to stay low to avoid my shadow getting in the shot, and I lined the tree up with a gap in the far trees to get as much separation as possible for it. An unexpected and magical moment! Sony a7r3 Sony 16-35mm f2.8 lens 16mm, f11, 1/160th second, ISO 100
6. March 31st, 2021 On the chase for the full moon setting into the mountains I found this nice composition along the Bow River. I captured the moon about 30 minutes prior to this but it set slightly more to the left than I would have liked so I’ll have to return for that one. I used the inverted centre column on my tripod to be as close as possible to the ice here emphasizing it in the frame. At 16mm I needed to tilt the lens up and capture one more frame so that the cloud wouldn’t be cut off at the top after focus stacking the foreground. A lot easier than it sounds! Especially the processing side, as it only takes a minute or two extra. It’s not something I always do but in this case it added a lot having full depth of sharpness in the crisp ice bed and fingers. Sony a7r3 Sony 16-35mm f2.8 lens 16mm, f11, 1/6th second, ISO 100, tripod, 7 shot focus stack
7. April 26th, 2021 Another full moon chase and again a slightly unexpected result. I really should invest more time in knowing exactly when I’ll see the moon above a peak – and I’ve since done this as Photopills has a handy feature on it. I had already packed up to be down off the escargot corner ridge before complete darkness set in but was stopped in my tracks as the moon finally appeared (later than I had expected). The snow drifts blowing off one of the peaks of Mt Rundle were lit by the moon’s disc in this two shot exposure blend. The moon is the exact size it was rendered at 600mm in the frame (It was the ‘pink’ supermoon) and the blend was super simple as I had bracketed the exposures on the tripod in quick succession. Sony a7r3 Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 lens 600mm, f8, 2 seconds + 1/250th second for the moon, ISO 100, tripod
8. May 2nd, 2021 Sunset light and fog mixing high up on a peak along the David Thompson Highway. An absolute stunner of a scene for how the slabs stood out perfectly at this light angulation. The fog was just a bonus and I had a hard time selecting just one image from the series. Sony a7r3 Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 lens 329mm, f8, 1/400th second, ISO 200
9. September 27th, 2021 On the grocery run I had stopped in here the previous day and poked my head around and saw this frame and thought how amazing it would be to have first light flooding into the scene. Fast forward one day later and I went and captured just that and it worked brilliantly with the fall foliage lighting up on the far shores of the lake as well. I used f16 to render a nice sun star and to my eye I didn’t notice much diffraction so I called it a day! Sony a7r3 Sony 16-35mm f2.8 lens 16mm, f16, 1/60th second, ISO 100
10. October 11th, 2021 The Canadian thanksgiving aurora! What a night. I saw the pillars from our bedroom window as we were settling in for the night so I immediately headed out to a handful of local spots, this being one them. I had always envisioned this shot and was happy it turned out as I had imagined! I was the only one here at the time….except for a cougar calling out somewhere nearby in the forest. Thankfully I didn’t hear it until I was leaving or I wouldn’t have been so smugly hunched over my tripod with the creek cancelling out all the surrounding noise. Sony a7r3 Sigma 14mm f1.8 lens 14mm, f1.8, 30 seconds, ISO 250, tripod, 4 shot focus stack
We still have a few weeks left in the year so I will update this list if something amazing happens during an upcoming shoot. I could challenge myself to produce an image in that time that can make this list. However, I find the images I enjoy the most find me when I least expect it, when I’m being open and observant of the light and the landscape, not through forcing the creative process. A reminder to keep that camera handy as much as possible!
Being able to step back, re-assess and find new inspirations has been helpful over the past few months and there have also been some big changes in my life that have allowed for a different outlook to emerge. I’m excited for 2022! Happy holidays and all the best to you!