Sea­sonal Changes

Pho­tog­ra­pher Christy Turner of Cal­gary loves au­tumn, as it pro­vides a whole new pal­ette of colours and pho­to­graphic op­por­tu­ni­ties

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With the change of sea­sons comes, at times, rapid shifts and un­pre­dictabil­ity in weather, re­gard­less of where you live in Canada. Ex­treme fluc­tu­a­tions in tem­per­a­ture, such as snow one day and wan­ing sum­mer warmth the next, are com­mon to the Cana-

dian land­scape, and it’s up to the hardy en­vi­ron­ment to adapt and ad­just ac­cord­ingly. As a land­scape/night skies pho­tog­ra­pher in Al­berta, the change of sea­son also means a whole new pal­ette of colours and pho­to­graphic op­por­tu­ni­ties, as wildlife and na­ture bring out their “win­ter clothes” and pre­pare for the chill of win­ter. For Cana­dian night sky en­thu­si­asts, it means the end of the Milky Way sea­son, and dark­ness comes ear­lier as the days shorten. With the short­ened days, it typ­i­cally means that aurora bo­re­alis ac­tiv­ity in­creases with the on­set of the fall equinox, his­tor­i­cally in­di­cat­ing an in­crease in ge­o­mag­netic ac- tiv­ity, mak­ing vi­brant north­ern lights sight­ings eas­ier to catch.

I have trav­elled to the Yukon, around this change of sea­son, which has fan­tas­tic of­fer­ings of its own, com­bin­ing its stun­ning land­scape beauty as fore­ground to bril­liant dis­plays of aurora at

night. The Yukon catches snow con­sid­er­ably ear­lier than its more southerly provin­cial coun­ter­parts, and al­ready looks down­right win­tery in late fall, with crisp pow­der snow re­flect­ing the vi­brant north­ern lights over­head.

On a more re­cent out­ing, as the tem­per­a­tures dropped back home in Cal­gary, my boyfriend John and I de­cided to head to­wards Tofino, B.C. We hoped to cap­ture the best of the fall along the way, while the high­ways in be­tween were still safe and ice-free.

As we wound through the Rock­ies, the chill of fall was felt in the air, but the vi­brant greens and autumn colours still coated the land­scape. The fur­ther west we drove, whether it was watch­ing droves of Cana­dian geese fly south while honk­ing their good­byes, or the plen­ti­ful rab­bits’ coats chang­ing from an earthy brown to a cam­ou­flag­ing snowy white, the op­por­tu­ni­ties to cap­ture one sea­son de­part­ing, while

the new sea­son ar­rived were abun­dant. The first snow­fall can fly as early as Septem­ber in Al­berta— re­mem­ber Cal­gary’s “snow­maged­don” in Septem­ber 2014?— and the Rocky Moun­tains can re­ceive a sprin­kling of

A fam­ily of moose along the Smith Dor­rien Trail, Kananaskis, Alta.

white snow early, too, coat­ing all the larches and ev­er­greens, while the crys­tal blue wa­ters of the moun­tain lakes, such as Peyto, are just poised to freeze. It’s still pos­si­ble to catch some fall warmth and pad­dle a ca­noe on the vi­brant green wa­ters of Emerald Lake, but there’ll be an im­mi­nent fall chill to the air. New- ly golden larches be­gin to spill their yel­lowed leaves and their conif­er­ous coun­ter­parts be­gin to drop a blan­ket of nee­dles on to the ground.

The mi­gra­tion of some owls, such as the snowy owl, be­gins at this time of year, and sight­ings of the Prairie’s “white ghosts” be­come more fre­quent. Perch­ing

on light stan­dards, power lines and fences, snowy owls scan the cold ground for mice and other food. They are also ac­tive from dawn un­til dusk, un­like their more noc­tur­nal coun­ter­parts. Other breeds of owls be­gin their mi­gra­tion to Canada’s win­tered grounds and the barred owls (which don’t ac­tu­ally mi­grate), like those found along Vic­to­ria’s har­bour, be­gin win­ter courtship to get an early jump on nest­ing.

Tofino is blus­tery and beau­ti­ful all at once in late fall, and the beaches are barer as tourist sea­son starts wind­ing down dur­ing the chilly win­ter months. Bits of drift­wood on the beach and clumps of rib­bon kelp en­twine along the rip­pled sand, and the sun­sets are still glo­ri­ous any­where in this West Coast par­adise. There re­ally is no bad time of year to visit Van­cou­ver’s coastal ar­eas, and the change of sea­son sim­ply makes it a more un­con­ven­tional, rugged and

mem­o­rable stay.

Port Al­berni, with its lush fo­liage turn­ing with the sea­son, be­comes more sus­cep­ti­ble to fog and rains in the late fall. A painted red dock stands out vi­brantly against all the fall colours, lur­ing me to stand at the shore pho­tograph­ing it, even as I’m be­ing doused with a cold rain.

Fall is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to rel­ish the change of sea­sons in any part of Canada and cap­ture the beau­ti­ful changes to the land­scape. It’s one of the most op­por­tune times to revel in na­ture’s glo­ri­ous colours and view all the won­drous crea­tures that thrive in the colder weather. I en­joy vis­it­ing the same spots at dif- fer­ent times of the year to ob­serve and pho­to­graph the changes and ad­just­ments to the starkly dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. Autumn means crisp, clear skies, har­vest moons, and bright north­ern lights. We re­ally do live in a mag­nif­i­cent coun­try with gor­geous scenery, and it’s out there, wait­ing to be ad­mired—and pho­tographed. ■

Snowy owl near Carstairs, Alta.

Long Beach, Tofino, B.C.

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