In the autumn months, it always amazes me how quickly things can change. Only 4 days ago, Nigel and I were here hiking the Splitrock Loop trail. You can read more on The Grandmother Tree here.
Since our last hike, the colours have deepened towards orange, and in some cases brown. This means that autumn is on its way out, to be replaced with a sea of brown until the first snowfall comes. Until then I’m going to squeeze in every possible bit of autumn I can until it is no more.
It was a gorgeous day to be out hiking. These beautiful paper birches were glowing in their small patch of sunlight. I think I spent way too much time here but I couldn’t get enough of how pretty they looked.
You can see that the grandmother tree still welcomes us to continue along the trail but has lost some of her leaves. It won’t be long now until she sheds them all and waits through the long winter to get her green leaves again.
Today Nigel and I were headed over the Saskatchewan/Alberta border to check out a small town called Empress. With another day of chilly temps and cloudy skies it made for some great moody photographs.
This abandoned shack was on the way to the border and I had to get a photo with the stormy skies.
As we drove into Alberta the landscape changed from flat to slightly rolling to hilly. This must be the edges of the badlands. It was a pretty stunning sight to see.
After enjoying a full day exploring Alberta and enjoying some wonderful local company at lunch in Empress we headed back over the border to get a little more time in with the Great Sandhill Dunes.
Great Sandhill Dunes
Most of the snow had blown off the dunes since yesterday and I had a little fun with Nigel’s infrared converted camera. The photograph above is a colour corrected infrared out of that camera. It looks like night has fallen on the hills when actually it is still daylight.
We tried our best to stay for the sunset but the cold temperatures and clouds sent us packing.
As we drove back to the hotel we noticed a break in the clouds so we quickly found a farm to use as the foreground and voila the photo above was created.
It was a great day exploring both Alberta and Saskatchewan but tomorrow its time to head back to Regina to catch our late afternoon flight home. Tomorrow we will be taking a more scenic route to the airport as we search out some of the old grain mills.
Since we were unable to catch a sunset at the Sandhill Dunes last night we decided to try for a sunrise today. At least that was the plan. When we awoke to cloudy skies our hopes were dashed but we thought maybe, just maybe, the clouds would move out by the time we made the one hour drive to the dunes. As we approached the town of Sceptre we knew the sunrise shoot was not going to happen. Nigel then suggested we check out the town of Empress just over the border in Alberta. So off we went on the 20 minute journey (which ended up taking two hours because we went the long way).
Before entering Alberta Nigel spotted some red grain storage sheds so we pulled over but for me the run down shack was much more interesting. I think I spent a good 20 minutes here just to get the right angle and I’m happy we did. It was one of my favourite spots. Continuing on to Alberta the transition was abrubt when all of sudden power lines popped up on both sides of the road. We weren’t in Saskatchewan anymore. Driving the main roads to town we passed the edges of what looked like the badlands.
Once in Empress we stopped in at the post office to see if the locals might have some tips on what to photograph nearby. We were directed to a place down the road called Empressive Cafe where we could get some lunch and some possible ideas from a local artist. The place was part local artist shop part intimate cafe and the food was homemade goodness. After a wonderful chat with the owners over soup and sandwiches we had a couple of ideas on where to photograph. Funnily enough the places happened to be back on the Saskatchewan side.
Of course during the drive we found a few places to stop and photograph but none seemed to inspire as I hoped. So back we went to the Great Sandhill Dunes. This time hoping to get some sunset light.
Great Sandhill Dunes
As you can see from the sky in the above photograph it had clouded over again just in time for the sun to go down for the day. No luck for us this time but the amazing shapes of the clouds were well worth the stop here and just look at the sand. I have realized since taking ths photo that there is no snow in this shot…where the heck did it disappear to? The shot was taken with a camera converted to infrared and then processed by swapping some channels in Photoshop. It was all blue so I used a gradient filter on the sand to push it to the neutral tones.
As we headed back to the hotel for the night we caught a little sliver of sunset as we passed a local farm.
Tomorrow we will be heading back to Regina and then home. We still have the drive to the airport and almost a full day to do it. The plan is all about grain elevators so stay tuned.
Nigel invited me to explore Saskatchewan for a few days so I decided – Hells Ya I’m Going. So late last night we flew in to exceptionally chilly temps (-30ºC). It turns out that our 3 days here will be among the chilliest they have seen in awhile. Luckily I came prepared and things out here don’t seem as bone deep chilly as back home in Ontario. It must be the dryness of the air.
Today was definitely tolerable (it helps to have loads of warm layers) and I’m so glad it was. Just take a peek at these awesome photos I was able to get from our drive from Regina to Swift Current.
Modern Grain Mill
My first grain mill. Okay it was a modern one and I can’t wait to see some of old iconic ones. There is loads of space around these mills so it makes it Beverly easy to compose images with Saskatchewan’s dramatic skies.
Abandoned Shack at Sunrise
I made Nigel pull over for this old shed. The low sun through the clouds made it seem as though it was the golden hour but I’ll tell you a little secret it was just after 4:oo pm. This is why winter is great for photos. The sun just never makes it up very high which means great light all day long.
The main reason for coming out to Saskatchewan – I know you were wondering – was to visit the Great Sandhill Dunes. We thought it would be interesting to photograph them in winter. And I’m glad we did. It was perfect with the dusting of snow and moody skies.
Cold Sandhill Dunes
Today’s temps were in the -20ºs so we were able to stay out for about an hour but not much more than that. Once we got cold we headed to our hotel in Swift Current for the night awaiting our next day where our plan was to head over the border to a small town in Alberta.
Leaving the comfort of our hotel after breakfast we followed the coast going clockwise around the island from Auld’s Cove before ending in Ingonish. A full day on the island of exploring and photographing – what more could you ask for?
After making a quick pitstop to visit a friend of Nigel’s we drove to Cheticamp, a small island on the north-west side of Cape Breton. Cheitcamp is small enough to drive from end to end in about 20 minutes at very slow speeds. The gravel roads and the road blocks – aka a herd of cows, were the reason for the slow speed. We stumbled across a fishing area with sheds, boats, lobster traps,etc.
Leaving Cheticamp we discovered a small parking area along the rocky shoreline. Everywhere you looked along this strip of beach were piles of rocks deliberately built into small cairns and even a few inukshuks.
The best part of the drive were the windy roads.
I’m in love with Cape Breton and will be back again to explore her for longer. Tomorrow however, its time to leave on the ferry for Newfoundland. My other favourite province here on the eastern shores.