Posts Tagged "summer"

70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 7. July 2013 in Grasslands National Park | 3 comments

70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Sunset at 70 Mile Butte in the West Block of Grasslands National Park. I took this image on the last day of a week-long trip in mid June of 2013. Although the weather was very unstable, I did not get too many days with interesting skies or cloud formations. Most of the time it was gray and uniformly overcast. That evening, everything came together and I was awarded with a glorious sunset. A composite HDR image made of 3 separate exposures. The location is just a short walk from the parking lot leading to the 70 Mile Butte hiking trail. Back to the Grasslands National Park photo...

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Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Posted by on 27. June 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, two of Canada’s most acclaimed writers and lifelong conservationists will be in Saskatchewan from June 24 to 28, 2013 for the Prairie Passages Tour. The two writers are Joint Honorary Presidents of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club. During the tour, Atwood and Gibson will visit PFRA community pastures and Grasslands National Park. The purpose of this tour is to raise public awareness of the national and international significance of the PFRA heritage rangelands for plant and animals that live on them – natural prairie and the 32 species at risk – and the need to conserve these lands for future generations. This is also an educational tour; several prominent members of BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of conservation organizations, are joining the group. The tour will include a lot of bird watching and meetings with conservationists and livestock producers who depend on the PFRA pastures for their livelihood. Following the the tour, Atwood and Gibson will share their experiences during the Atwood and Gibson Prairie Passages Dinner, co-emceed by CBC Radio One’s Sheila Coles, host of the CBC Morning Edition and Candace Savage, one of Canada’s most celebrated nature writers. The event is sponsored by Nature Canada, Public Pastures-Public Interest and CBC Saskatchewan. After the dinner, Atwood and Gibson will speak, reflecting on their visit to our grasslands and pastures, the birdlife and species at risk, and their own passion for conservation. There will be great images from the tour, music, and a chance to meet the international guests. The tickets are $100 or $950 for a table of 10. Available through the Globe Theatre Box Office or: Phone: 306.525.6400 Out of town: 1.866.954.5623 Fax: 306.352.4194 Email: boxoffice@globetheatrelive.com I was fortunate to spend two days on the Prairie Passages Tour in southern Saskatchewan, and photographed the activities. On Tuesday evening  I gave a short audio-visual presentation to the group, with images from the Grasslands National Park. If you are able to attend the gala dinner on Thursday, you will see a show of grassland images that I prepared as part of the program. Here are two images from the tour.  ...

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Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

Posted by on 24. June 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

The Grasslands National Park photo tour went well. The weather was relatively cooperative and we managed to capture a few great images. I will post a few samples later this week. Prairie in the Park is recovering very fast after the massive wildfire that swept through the Park in April of this year. Early May was drier than normal, but heavy rains arrived at the end of the month. Temperatures were below average and rainfall was well above average over the first two weeks of June; many areas of Saskatchewan have received more than 150% of normal amount of rain. This might explain why the wildflowers were a bit delayed this year. We might see more flowers later on in June and early July. Vegetation in burned area has recovered rapidly and the Frenchman River valley looks incredibly lush and green. Along the Ecotour road, deer and bison can frequently be seen feeding on new, nutritious grass. In the image below it is possible to see that grass on the left-hand side of the road (south-west) was burned and had no residual dry plant material. The new growth is lush and green. Prairie on the right-hand side was not affected by the wildfire and has much more dead grass (brown spots in the image). Regrown areas have the best quality forage and attract many grazers. Actually, bison were seen looking for food in charred areas immediately after the fire. First Nations frequently set the prairie on fire to attract bison to certain areas where it was easier to catch them for food. The practice is used today to restore the bison populations. Prairie wildfire did change the affected habitat. Some of the tree species were heavily damaged and will not recover – we will have to wait for new saplings to emerge. Grass species benefited from the fire and are recovering with amazing vigour. Forbs (like sage and wildflowers) are a bit slower to return. Controlled fires can help in suppressing invasive species and are used in prairie management. Fires help by removing thatch (dead plant material), stimulating plant growth, and by attracting grazers. Control measures of invasive plant species include a combination of prescribed fires and grazing; Parks Canada is bringing in cattle to graze in areas that were heavily infested with the crested wheatgrass. I observed cows selectively eating seed heads of this invasive species, thus helping control the abundance of weeds. The large area of unburned prairie on land surrounding the burnt patch served as a refuge for the fire-sensitive species. They will quickly re-colonize the land affected by the wildfire over the next few years. Mosaic of habitat changes brought in by the large wildfire of 2013 will help enhance biodiversity of the area. The Grasslands National Park will be even more beautiful and attractive to hikers and photographers venturing into this remote part of...

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Happy Summer Solstice

Posted by on 21. June 2013 in Blog / Journal | Comments Off on Happy Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice

Happy summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  Summer will officially begin this week, although if residents of Saskatoon looked out of the window, it definitely did not feel like summer. We have had unusually wet and cold June. For the first half of the month temperatures were below average and rainfall is already well above average. Many areas in Saskatchewan have received more than 150% of normal rainfall. The old saying goes “April showers bring May flowers”. Well, wildflowers are a bit late this year. The 2013 summer solstice falls in early morning hours on Friday, June 21st. This year’s summer solstice stands out because it will be followed by the largest “supermoon” of the  year. In early morning hours of Sunday, June 23rd the moon will reach it’s full phase and will be the closes to the Earth (356,990 kilometres or 221,823 miles) than any other time this year. The moon will appear 16% bigger and 30% brighter. In case the skies are clear enough for us to be able to see it. After the summer solstice is over in Northern Hemisphere, it is all down hill – days will be shorter and nights longer. Although this sounds bad, there is  something positive in shorter days; no more waking up at 4 am to photograph the sunrise. If you are interested in learning more about trivia behind the summer solstice, check out this article from National Geographic or Washington Post (warning – a lot of geeky numbers). CNET Australia published an article with useful tips on how to photograph the supermoon this Sunday). For a real treat, check out this awesome video of a full moon rising behind a silhouetted group of visitors at the Mount Victoria lookout by the New Zealand photographer Mark Gee.     Update on June 23, 2013: here is one of the images I took this morning of a supermoon behind the Delta Bessborough hotel in Saskatoon. Photographed with a 400 mm...

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New half-day photography workshops

Posted by on 19. February 2013 in Blog / Journal, Workshops | Comments Off on New half-day photography workshops

New half-day photography workshops

I will be leading a series of half-day photography workshops in the Saskatoon area, suitable for novice and intermediate level photographers. The idea is to have a short informative lecture on various topics and then go out in the field and practice what we have learned. Dates and topics: Sunday, 24. February 2013 – Winter Photography Saturday, 25. May 2013 – Macro and Flower Photography Sunday, 21. July 2013 – Landscape Photography and Basic Digital Workflow Check out the Saskatoon photo workshops page for more information. Also, I am preparing several photo tours to my favourite places in Saskatchewan this year. More information will be posted soon. Here are the dates: Grasslands National Park (June 7-9, 2013) Great Sand Hills (July 5-7, 2013) Prince Albert National Park  (September 20-22, 2013)...

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