Reflections on Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Panoramic Image of Reflections on Moraine Lake at Sunrise

I was at Moraine Lake for Sunrise on the first day that the road up to the lake was open for the season in 2008. This popular Canadian Tourist Destination is only accessible to vehicle traffic during the summer months, usually from the May long weekend until the end of September. We were staying in the village in nearby Lake Louise, and I had originally intended to shoot the sunrise at the Chateau Lake Louise, but when I saw that the road to Moraine Lake was open I immediately changed my plans.

Although there are many incredibly beautiful places to see and explore in the Canadian Rockies, Moraine Lake is absolutely one of my favorites. I was very excited to see that part of the lake was actually free of ice, and when I saw the beautiful golden light reflecting off the mountains and glittering across the water I was ecstatic. Moraine Lake is truly a jewel and I try to visit at least a couple of times every year.

Although I created this image almost two years ago, I recently printed a large version of it and I really liked how it came out. I’ve also entered it in a couple of recent photo contests and I realized that I had never shared it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Gophers: Cute Cuddly Critters, or Unwanted Pests?

Animals – Gophers – Images by Sean Phillips

I’ve been getting lots of contacts lately about my images of gophers. I think this is partly because it is spring on the prairies and these cute little critters are starting to appear again after a long winter underground. But I think it is even more so because they have been making the news a lot lately in Canada due to their recent designation as Pests in the Province of Saskatchewan. Inclusion in the province‚Äôs Pest Control Act means that it is now legal to exterminate these animals along with other pests such as Rats and Grasshoppers.

Although commonly known as gophers, these animals are officially called Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. They are often confused with Prairie Dogs, however that is an entirely different species. No matter what they are called they are very fun to watch and extremely photogenic. I have literally made thousands of images of these funny little critters and I’m always happy to make a few more!

The designation of gophers as pests makes me a little bit sad, because I really do enjoy watching them, but the simple truth is that the prairies are infested with these animals. In the areas where I roam I can scan the ground and see the typical grass and soil conditions in which they live and there are signs of their burrows everywhere. They are especially problematic for farmers because their burrows tend to collapse under the weight of the farm equipment, which can lead to significant damage and expensive repairs, and in areas where the population is particularly dense they can actually ravage the crops simply by eating. Unfortunately this is a man-made problem because our influence has allowed them to thrive on the prairie farmland in several ways: we grow lots of food, such as canola, that they love to eat; we till the ground which makes it easy for them to dig and survive; and we have significantly reduced the populations of their natural predators such as coyotes and foxes.

So does this make them a pest? I guess it does in the eyes of many. But I personally think that they are awfully cute and cuddly too, and I love to share my images of them!

Round Bale in Spring Color

Round Bale in a Field

Spring on the prairies in the Calgary region is a world of monotones. Monotonous browns and yellows that is. The fields are dull and boring and as a photographer it can be very discouraging at times. By this time of the season every year I am absolutely dying for a little splash of color in my world! While new signs of spring are appearing every day (there are lots of Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks in the fields, so the spring migration must be almost here), the bright colors of fresh new spring growth are still a long way off…

Fortunately there are still many interesting subjects to capture and I still find the agricultural objects littering the fields to be fun to shoot. There always seems to be lots of texture in the farms and the fields and there are many images within the images. And there are still lots of bales out in the fields that never got piled in the spring, and on partially cloudy days they practically glow while sitting in the fields.

Storage Bins in Winter

Agriculture Storage Bins in Winter

These bins dot the countryside on the prairies but rarely do so many congregate in one location, and rarely can you see them with such a beautiful open view of the Rocky Mountains behind them. I plan to revisit this spot several times to catch this collection in different light and from many other angles.

Agriculture Storage Bins in Winter

The Calgary Skyline Silhouetted against the Sunset

The Calgary Skyline Silhouetted against the Sunset

The unmistakable shape of the Calgary Tower stands out against the golden sky during the magic hour shortly after sunset. I’m a bit of a sucker for skyline pictures anyway, but the light was really dramatic, so of course I had to pull over to make this image.