Winter

The Feast - Welcome to Dinner
The Feast: ISO 640, 40mm, f/8.0 1/30

Lego Feast - Cheers
The Feast Part II - Cheers!!: ISO 640, 40mm, f/8.0, 1/80

It was a cold and snowy day today. I planned on playing with my camera and venture out today but it was too cold with windchill putting the temps at around -20 Celsius.

So, I broke out my newly purchased backgrounds and set up my lights. Then I grabbed a few Lego Mini Figures to practice my skills.

I was listening to Google Play Music service while I was setting up the King and his friend the pig. Led Zeppelin was playing “Your Time is Gonna Come” while I was setting up Part Two of the shot. Coincidence? Are the pigs going to get their revenge? Or are they just going to put a scare in the King?

Backgrounds are blank painting canvas that I purchased on sale at the local craft store. I used 2 sets of lights. Led Camera Video Lights and a small LED desk lamp. I also shot this in front of our patio door to let in some natural light.

Red Panda at Calgary Zoo
Red Panda: ISO 800, 130mm, f/5.0, 1/250

Another set of photos from my Calgary Zoo walk last week. My previous visits to the Calgary Zoo, these two Red Pandas were usually hiding or sleeping. Last week was a different story. Both were very active, one even showed off his climbing skills. I was impressed!

 Red Panda in Tree at Calgary Zoo
Red Panda in Tree: ISO 800, 150mm, f/5.0, 1/400

Watchful Wolf at the Calgary Zoo
Watchful Wolf: ISO 800, 110mm, f/4.0, 1/250

We are currently experiencing spring like weather here in the Calgary area. I took advantage of a warm, overcast day and headed to the Calgary Zoo with my annual Membership pass. I figured if I was willing to go out and enjoy the fresh air, so would the animals at the Zoo. I will share more of my snaps in the coming days.

This wolf was pacing in her enclosure. I believe she was watching for elk in the next enclosure over.

Bottle of Coke
Bottle of Coca Cola: ISO 800, 23mm, f/7.1, 1/50


Bottle of Coke (looking down)
Looking Down on a Bottle of Coke: ISO 800, 35mm, f/7.1, 1/30

To my regular visitors, I am sorry about the lack of updates recently. Work has taken over my life this past month.

I missed my camera and thought I would play around with my it to get my creative juices flowing again. The above two images are not the normal subject matter posted on my blog but I found this bottle interesting for a number of reasons. First, the signature Coca Cola shape. Second, the colours of the bottle itself and the iconic red.

Hopefully this is the start of my inspiration and getting me motivated to post more regularly.

Bohemian Waxwings, Mountain Ash, Birds, Feeding
Birds: ISO 200, 53mm, f/4.5, 1/4000

A followup to my previous post.

This is where the flock of flying waxwings were headed. The neighbour’s Mountain Ash (Right Side of Picture) provides many tiny berries for a large quantity of birds to feed. I wonder how these tiny branches can handle the number of birds that perch on them.


Formation Flying: ISO 200, 15mm, f/8.0, 1/2000

The bohemian waxwings came back to our yard this winter for another feeding. The sound this amount of birds make is surreal.

This is just a small bunch of the birds. Most of them were in the trees behind me feasting.

iPhone, Red Deer Rebels, hockey, sports
Face Off: iPhone 4 edited with Perfect Photo Suite 6

I have been in a bit of a rut lately when it comes to my photography. Not sure why. Kind of the same feeling I had when sitting down to write papers in University. You get this block in your head and are not sure where to start.

Some of the photography blogs that I read regularly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and shoot something different to get out of these ruts. I believe that I like nature photography because my subjects don't judge me. I feel comfortable knowing I am alone with nature and I can take all the time that I need to find shots that catch my eye.

This past weekend I took a baby step in getting out of my comfort zone. I went to a Western Hockey League hockey game and took some photos. Now, when I say baby steps what I mean is that I didn't take my "big" camera but instead pulled out my iPhone. No big lenses, no wondering which settings to use and not worrying what people might think I was doing. I actually had fun! This maybe the power I needed to get out of my rut.

I had pretty awesome seats to the Red Deer Rebels game. Front row right up against the glass. They were playing the Regina Pats. Our home team Rebels (Team in Black) won the game 2-1. These are a couple of shots from that game.



hockey, Red Deer Rebales, Western Hockey League, Regina Pats, Red Deer Centrium, winter, sports
Neutral Zone: iPhone 4 edited with Perfect Photo Suite 6


Christmas, Alberta, Canada, Red Deer, Lights, City Hall
Christmas in the Park: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

This was taken the same night as the previous image. This is facing west at the Red Deer City Hall gardens.

In the summer it is quite the sight with roses and perennials.

In the winter, the city covers the trees, bushes and shrubs with lights. People are always strolling the pathways to get a closer look.

lights, Christmas, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. City Hall, cold
Christmas at Red Deer City Hall 2011

I love Christmas! The colour and and lights warm up our extraordinary cold and dark winters.

This was taken last night in downtown Red Deer with a simple pocket camera. The city decorates the City Hall Park and this rather large Christmas tree.

The snow up until today had pretty much melted in our backyard. The tulips are starting to peak through the soil waiting to unleash their spring colours and this happens! Read More...

Waxwings, Chris Bates, Photography, nature, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
The Invasion: ISO 320, 200mm, f/8, 1/90

On my way home from work today I noticed the neighbour's crab apple tree was covered with a blanket of Waxwings. I finished my drive home, parked the car in the garage, ran into the house, said hello to my wife, headed downstairs to grab the camera, said I will be back to my wife and then walked to the end of the alley to get some pics of the birds and tree.

I was able to get quite close to these birds. A passerby by said to me that he heard the birds get a little intoxicated by the fermented apples so maybe that is why they are not as skitish as usual.

Click here to see a larger version of this picture.

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb
In Like a Lion: ISO 400, 50mm, f/2.2, 1/60

I am hoping the old weather saying "in like a lion, out like a lion" rings true. The first half of March has seen extreme cold. So if the saying is true then we hopeflly can expect nice pleasant weather. However, checking things out on Wikipedia this saying doesn't hold any water.

This is a picture of our Maverick. It's the closest image I have of a fericious lion. Although he probably shares more similarities to a lamb.

Chris Bates Photography Red Deer Alberta Canada
More Shadow Veins: ISO 200, 70mm, f/9.5, 1/2000


Sky, Clouds, Fluffy, White, Blue
Fluffy White Clouds: ISO 200, 70mm, f/9.5, 1/2000

Still very cold here. My brain is in a freeze. I decided I needed to try to get out of my creative hibernation and point the camera upwards.


Shadow Veins: ISO 80, 23mm, f/6.3, 1/1000

This shot was taken around noon today. As you can see by the long shadows the sun is still low in the southern horizon. It is abnormally cold for February.

This is the time of year I trim the branches of our apple trees. However, with the windchills in the -30 to -40 Celcius range I have not had the ambition to go out and prune.



Feeding Waxwing Bohemian Red Deer Alberta Canada Nature
Bohemian Waxwing: ISO 200, 200mm, f/4, 1/1500

Stepped out of the house last weekend and was surprised to see a large flock of waxwings had come to visit the neighbour's berry laden mountain ash tree. The tree branches out over our crab apple tree.

I rushed back inside and grabbed my camera which had a short telephoto on it. I took some shots from just outside the back door of the house and then proceeded to walk slowly towards the birds hoping to get some "up close shots." From my past encounters with these birds I found them to be very skittish. But this time I was able to get fairly close. They must have been hungry.

The video is from a few weeks ago. These same type of birds had visited the trees a street over. They fly in huge flocks in search of food. The neighbourhood fills with the sounds of these beautiful birds and is a sight to see. Canadian winters do have its charms.

Kitty in the dryer trying to stay warm
Trying to Stay Warm: ISO 1600, 90mm, f/8, 1/200

It is very cold again and because of this I am not getting outside as much to snap pictures.

Our cats are strictly the indoor type and even they are noticing the house is cooler than usual. Here our youngest cat (About 6-7 months old) has discovered that after you take the clothes out of the dryer it is a pretty comfortable place to sit. Either that or he really likes the smell of our fabric softener (Green Meadows).

Instead of the dreaded red eye I got some funky green eye. My wife urged me to come in a hurry to snap the picture and I did not have time to find and install the flash soft box. I also had to point the flash at the cat because if I pointed it upwards to bounce off the ceiling the light would not reach inside the dryer.

A couple of days later all three cats were in the dryer together but I was not able to get to the camera in time. I might have to wear my camera 24/7.

Death Mouse Cold Winter snow covered
Harsh Reality of Winter: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/250

It has been cold here the last week. Minus 20 Celcius weather. I went outside to take pictures of the snow covered fences and vegetation this morning and I noticed this poor little guy on our sidewalk. There has been so much snow that we have been shovelling at least once a day. We might have buried the way to his home or his food source.

Photoblog Awards

Winter winds blowing snow Red Deer Alberta Canada
Prevailing Winds: ISO 400, 70mm, f/6.7, 1/500

High winds this past weekend packed the new fallen snow down to make it pretty hard. This is the roof of our garage and it looks like the virginia creeper is holding the snow from sliding off the roof.

Click on the image to see a larger one and you can actually see the wind moving the snow on the roof and under the eaves.

PS: I finally got listed at coolphotoblogs.com. Please vote for my photo blog if you like what you see at the links below.

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Winter, snow, rose, Alberta, Canada, winds
Winter Roses: ISO 400, 126mm, f/4.5, 1/1000

A winter storm is upon us. The snow shovel has gotten a work out.

This is our roses along the back wall of our house. The high winds have not taken the snow off them.

Downy Woodpecker, nature, bird, Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Alberta
Preparing for the Storm: ISO 400, 200mm, f/4, 1/350

Went for a walk at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre yesterday while the weather was still relatively warm (Just below 0 degrees ceclius).

This was the only bird I could get close enough to photograph during my hike but I could hear chickadees and waxwings playing in the woods. My lens just couldn't reach far enough to catch them. This Downy Woodpecker was busy searching for food. He must sense the winter storm the weather people are predicting for this weekend.

Kitty, Cute, Christmas, camoflauge, trouble
Trouble: ISO 200, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60

Christmas can almost be counted down on one hand now. Our newest family member, Goose, is experiencing his first Christmas. We weren't sure if we should put up the indoor Chrismtas tree as Goose is still very much a kitty.

We compromised and put up the tree but not very many decorations. As you can see from this picture that was a good choice. Goose likes shiny glass balls and we do find them on the floor from time to time. He is careful not to break them though.

Christmas, Holidays, Lights, Bokeh
Christmas Tree Bokeh: ISO 400, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/15

Playing outside tonight with the camera. I shot this out of focus to achieve the "bokeh" effect on the lights.

ice, icicle, melt, water droplet, winter
Frozen in Time: ISO 200, 15mm, f/4, 1/800

If you have been visiting this site regulary you might get the impression that things are very cold.

Even though it is winter and for the most part the temperatures are consistently below freezing the sun will come out and warm things up.

I was playing with my point and shot camera and noticed that the snow was slowly melting off our black roof. I was trying to catch the water droplets falling off the icicles.

One of the drawbacks of a point and shoot (Pocket Camera) is the delay from the time you press the button to when the actual picture is taken. I took a few shots and this is the best of them. I had to snap the picture before I even seen the water drops fall to the ground.

Frost winter Christmas lights macro dark
Frosty Night: ISO 800, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/20

Frost Leaf dark Christmas Night lights macro
Frosty Leaves at Night: ISO 800, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/15

These were shot in the backyard Friday night. Both shots were handheld at a high using a high ISO.

Most of the trees in our area have this hoars frost on them. Makes the landscape look very cold.

Christmas, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Lamp Post at Night: ISO 800, 35mm, f/4, 1/6

It's December and Christmas is coming up fast.

Our neighbours are finally catching the Holiday Spirit. Of the 16 houses on our block 5 of us have outdoor lights up. That is pretty high as the last few years it has been around 2-3 homes (including ours).

Snow, Christmas, White, decorations, Canada, Red Deer, Alberta
White Christmas: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/320

We have received a lot of snow this past week. We have also received January like temperatures (-20 degrees celcius). No worries about a white Christmas this year!

Mugo Pine, Snow, Winter, backyard
Canadian Cactus: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/320

The snow has fallen. It looks like it will stay around for awhile. Sub zero temperatures all week. BBbbrrrrrrr!!

This is our small Mugo Pine covered with the fresh fallen snow. Kind of reminds me of a cactus.

Cedar Tree Snow Macro Photography
Cedar and Snow: ISO 200, 11mm, f/3.2, 1/160

We got some snow this week. It usually snows just in time for Halloween.

This is a macro of our cedar tree by our front entrance which faces north. Taken with a point and shoot set on manual settings.

Early Spring?


March 7 Tulips: ISO 200, 35mm, f/9, 1/25

March 7 Backyard: ISO 200, 35mm, f/8, 1/640

As promised I bring you our tulips breaking earth during an Alberta, Canada winter. These photos were taken this morning with a temperature of minus 7 degrees Celcius. That’s right it was well below freezing. Not a chance of Frost; a 100% guarantee of frost!

As you can see by the backyard picture there is still snow on 90% of our yard. In places it is over 6 inches deep! Mid day temperatures have been reaching the plus 5 to 9 range.

The tulips are in a garden along the back wall of our house. The back of the house faces south and catches the sun all afternoon. So the tulip bulbs are feeling the warmth and thinking it is time to come out and show their colours!

PS: They are calling for more snow early this week!

More Kerry Wood Nature Centre


ISO 200, 90mm, f/4.5, 1/180

This is another photo from my late January photo walk at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer, Alberta.

Red Berry


Red Berry: ISO 200, 90mm, F/3.5, 1/125

Warm weather is coming which is not good. We have some tulips that are starting to break earth. I will take pictures of those next chance I get. There is still lots of snow on the ground and I am sure Mother Nature has more on the way.

As Requested...


Branching Out: ISO 200, 90mm, F5.6, 1/500


Frosty Ladder: ISO 200, 90mm, F4, 1/1000


Grass and Trunk: ISO 100, 108mm, f5, 1/80

One of my regular visitors requested more pictures of my cold nature walk. I guess it is pretty warm down under and this helps cool things off.

These 3 pictures are of my nature walk a few weeks ago at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. A pretty foggy day which provided great images of Hoar Frost.



Nature Walk


Three Trees: ISO 200, 90mm, F5.6, 1/350

The amount of fog and Hoar’s Frost we have received this winter has to be a record. Mother Nature has thrown some more fog on us the last few days.

This shot was taken at the end of January. I took a drive to the bottom of the hill on which we live and visited the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. I have heard a lot of this place and yet have never visited. Like today, there was lots of moisture in the cold air causing a heavy coating of Hoar’s Frost.

Also with the heavy fog there is no way for the sun to cast any shadows. This was taken around 1:00 PM. It was like I was taking pictures in a giant soft box.

This image has not been converted to black and white.

Not my Best Work


White Breasted Nuthatch: ISO 200, 238mm, f5.6, 1/400

I came home from work on Thursday evening and noticed the birds playing when I retrieved our mail. I quickly ran to the house to grab my camera with the telephoto zoom lens attached and tried to take pictures of the fast moving chickadees. Then I noticed this White Breasted Nuthatch looking for food in the neighbour’s tree.

Like the squirrel picture posted earlier this month the nuthatch wasn’t co-operating either. He just wouldn’t come into the warm evening sun. So, I was shooting into the shadows. This was the best of a few shots I took and with some editing I was able to bring out some detail but not as much as I would have liked. I like his pose in this image I just wished he felt more secure with me around and had come out into the sun.

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Coca Cola Float: ISO 800, 50mm, f2, 1/90

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are on if you do not already know. I have to show my patriotism in this post. Canada has finally won Gold Medals on Canadian soil. As of this journal entry we have won 2 Gold Medals.

Canada has hosted 3 Olympics now and this is the first time we have acquired gold on our own turf. Previously we have hosted the summer Olympics of 76 in Montreal and the winter Olympics of 1988 in Calgary.

I posted images previously of the Olympic Torch Relay that ran through the town in which I work. I thought it was time to post another one. This is the Coca Cola float. Not sure how much money they put up to become involved in these winter games but I do know I haven’t seen a penny to sponsor my website!

Waiting for the Fog to Lift


Winter Squirrel: ISO 500, 190mm, f4.5, 1/250

I took this shot of a squirrel in the middle of January when it was still pretty warm out. The noise in this image is pretty high even after a bit of tweaking. I had to use a high ISO in order to get a quick shutter speed for the subject and the focal length. Noise is better than blurry in my opinion.

I was shooting under our big pine tree and looking up to this noisy squirrel sitting in the shade. As you can see in the upper right hand corner the sun was trying to illuminate the subject but it just didn’t have enough reach to touch him.

Currently, a fog has settled in again bringing damp, cold weather. The type of weather in which you really have no desire to leave the house. Not only is there fog outside there is also fog inside my head. Like the previous post I am still suffering from the “Winter Blahs” and am hoping this fog will lift soon.

Winter Blahs


Pink Tulip and Columbine: 90mm, F5, 1/500

Well, it is Groundhog Day today. This is North America’s tradition to see how much longer winter will last. It is not very scientific. If the groundhog sees his shadow we have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, winter will end soon.

The Albertan Groundhog, Balzac Billy, didn’t see his shadow. http://bit.ly/aAb48b Could Alberta be so lucky? An early end to winter.... Stay tuned.

Falling Stars


ISO 100, Focal Length 90mm, F4.5, Shutter Speed 1/45

The snow has stopped falling but the temperatures have not. Winter is officially back...just in time for the Olympics.

This is a macro shot of a cluster of dead rose blooms shot a couple of weeks ago when the hoar frost was heavy.

Let it Snow. Some More.


Snow Fall: ISO 200, Focal Length 35mm, f/4, Shutter Speed 1/750

The snow is falling once again. Just a few flakes at a time. No need to worry about snow banks up to the knees or anything. I tried to capture the snow falling with this image and that is why the background is out of focus (Yes, I did this on purpose.). It is hard to focus on tiny little moving snowflakes!

Out of the Fog


A fog rolled in last night and continued into this morning. I took this picture late this morning. The camera actually captured the fog when taking a macro shot of a rose branch creating a dreamy effect.

Fog in winter here means things get a good coating of frost. Just like the previous pictures posted around Christmas and New Year.

Hanging Out


With the warm weather the birds become more active. This shot came because as I was doing a walk around the house last week and I swear I seen an owl high in the neighbour’s tree. I did not have my camera with me so I had to run to the house and get the camera and attach my 70-300mm zoom lens.

By the time I got back to the tree the owl was gone and replaced by a noisy squirrel. So, as the saying goes your best camera is the one you always have with you. I didn’t even have my cell phone with me at that time. Massive fail!

I did manage to get a few nuthatch and chickadee pictures when it was all said and done. I also got a couple of noisy squirrel pictures as well.

No More Playing in the Water


Our rain barrel has provided some interesting images the past week. Here is the latest image that I took yesterday afternoon. Temperatures are returning to normal. It is still a little on the warm side but no one is complaining.

Feeling Olympic


The Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver this February. The torch is crossing the country and has finally come to Alberta. It arrived in Sylvan Lake, Alberta at around 5:30 PM this evening. I believe it heads to Calgary tomorrow which if you recall hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988.

I know this isn’t in my backyard but still wanted to share this with you as this isn’t something you would see on a regular basis. I threw in a bonus tonight as well. Fireworks capped off the Torch Relay festivities and I included a picture since everyone loves a good fireworks show!


Playing in the Water


Okay, now I am worried Mother Nature is teasing us with warm weather making us think winter is over and spring is finally here. She is such the cruel jokester!

I wanted to play with water today. I heard the birds all around but they were high in the trees enjoying the warm sun where my zoom couldn’t reach them. So, I thought I would try water droplet shots and long smooth flowing water shots. I actually moved out of Av mode and into Tv mode. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone. I still think I need more practice and next time use my tripod.

Slowly but Surely


The melting continues. The last couple of days the temperature is staying above freezing throughout the night.

The After Shot


What a difference a few days make! Warm temperatures moved in (10C) and snow is moving out.

Take a Load Off


Here is a pretty good image on the amount of snow we have received so far this winter. Should start melting slowly now. A chinook has arrived and is expected to stay above O degree C for most of the week.

Still Snowing...


We have a pile of snow this year and it doesn’t look like it will be melting any time soon... I am actually running out of room to put it when I shovel the sidewalk and driveway.

This is a macro of a pile of snow on our driveway lamppost. You can see the neighbour’s fence in the background.

Happy New Year!


Wishing all of you peace and fortune for the new year and new decade.

My wife Angela took this shot earlier this week. All that white on the background trees is the heavy hoar frost.

Heavy Dusting


Another picture from yesterday’s heavy hoar frost. Taken before the sun has fully risen. The foreground branches are illuminated by the streetlight.

Winter Wonderland


This is our backyard at sunrise this morning. There is a lot of moisture in the air and the results are breathtaking. Everything has a coating of frost. Even the clothesline.

One breath of wind and it all comes down.

Beautiful Day Yesterday


Merry Christmas to all!

Yesterday was a beautiful day in so many ways. Woke up to Santa’s presents and Mother Nature’s present of a nice covering of Hoar Frost.

This was taken in the front yard looking up at the trees that create a canopy over our street. Not a cloud in the sky so the sun was catching the hoar frost on the trees. A slight wind was brushing the frost off causing it to fall to the ground.

Jingle Bells


Are those Santa’s sleigh bells?

Oh Look! Another Frost Picture.


This is another image I took back on the 12th. It’s too cold to go out now to take new ones! Minus 30 Celsius then add the windchill factor.

This was a rose. Now it looks like something right out of a science fiction movie. Where is Sigourney Weaver when you need her?

Reminds me of our Kitchen Table


Well, I guess we will not be having a picnic in our backyard anytime soon. Not that we will want to when it has been averaging -15 C all week.

The title of the journal entry might be confusing unless I explain it here. Our kitchen table is the closest “drop off point” to our back door (The most used entrance to the house). After the accumulation of mail, flyers and my camera/lenses the table almost becomes unusable for its real true purpose.

I think the shadows on the ground look like some people are using the picnic table despite the snow. One is sitting on the right side and another is standing on the left. Maybe we have ghosts that cast shadows in our backyard.

Crown of Frost


Another image from earlier this week. Frost on a rose branch.

Lights, Camera, Cold


Two Journal entries in one day! More -30 C images. Took this before the lights came on. Didn’t want the photo opportunity to melt.

Frosty


Minus 30 Celsius today! Leaves are trying to keep warm by covering themselves with a frosty blanket.

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Winter


Big snow storm today. Looks like winter if officially here.

Christmas is Near


We finally got some snow. But it almost melted away today. Now it is starting to feel like Christmas is just around the corner.

Santa Claus is coming to Town


Christmas is little than a month away. This image was taken last year. I have not taken a shot of this yeas lights for two reasons. No snow yet and our Christmas Tree is not up yet.