Wednesday, 20 March 2013

(S)Weeping Silos

Silos 5I love Calgary. I have lived there off and on for over 40 years, starting in the mid-1960's when we lived out on the prairie and spent a lot of time camping in the mountains. Later, I returned with my own kids and we also lived on the prairie and spent a lot of time in the mountains. On a very short trip to Calgary this summer, I had enough time to see either The Prairies or the mountains. Understandably, I was torn.

My solution? I did both!

In order to do both, it meant a very early wake-up call. Early enough to grab this shot of the moon going down behind the mountains just as the sun was coming up over The Prairies. The sunrise bathed the city and the moon in warm light, while the the sky remained a cold blue.

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EDIT: For those not familiar with Calgary, here is a quick description of what you are seeing in the above photograph: the full moon (camera right) is setting behind the mountains to the west and the sun rising over the prairies behind me.

Yes, a full moon setting just as the sun was going up on a crisp, clear day! What are the odds for that? As they say in landscape photography circles, you make your own luck by getting out there.

I decided to start with a loop through Drumheller and see the Royal Tyrrell Museum. To get there I had to drive across 110 km of bald-ass prairie.

The Prairies remind me of the ocean, in many ways. That you can see forever is one way. My friend Randy, who is from Saskatchewan, once told me he watched his dog run away from home for three days. So you would think that driving on The Prairies is boring. Well, when you have The Voices with you and they like what they see, nothing is boring!

Like the ocean, the sky meets The Prairies right at the horizon. Also like the ocean, The Prairies can be a little boring in the colour department*, but if you think in terms of tones, a lot of creative opportunities open up.

As I was driving along, half listening to The Voices, a herd of Black Angus beef caught my eye.

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And some silos leapt over the horizon when I wasn't looking.

The Voices were not satisfied with that shot, but they were intrigued by the possibilities. They decided they wanted to make pictures every 5 minutes. However, that would have totally blown my time and I would not have had a chance to see all that I had on my list, so I only occasionally humoured them. Like this stop a bit later to capture a bushy tree posing with some strippers**.

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And suddenly the silos were a lot closer.

While The Voices were quite happy with the shot, I found these silos a bit too freaky. It could have been the time dilation you get when driving long distances across The Prairies, but every time I wasn't looking, they seemed to get much closer. Just like the Weeping Angels. Could these be the rare, but deadly, Sweeping Silos? Where the hell is The Doctor when you need him?

The Voices didn't pay them any attention.

By using black and white, I can bring out the texture of the sky and the prairie, something I do not really notice when thinking in colour. Clouds, in particular, have many wonderful shades of grey. Much more than 50. If 50 Shades of Grey is a good thing, and these have more than 50 shades of grey, then I should think these will be on the best-seller lists around the world in no time!

And I blinked. While my eyes were closed for just that fraction of a second, the silos had surged forward.


Silos 4

I needn't have worried. The Voices revealed them for what they were: shills for a helicopter ride! The Doctor was not needed.

Silos 1



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* Colours on The Praires can be very dull in the middle of a cloudy day, but in the blue and golden hours around sunset, magic happens. As you will see in the next blog post.
** Strippers is my term for trees stripped of their branches and bark and set to work as power-line poles.

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