And you thought forest fires were a problem?

At first glance, you might not look at this photograph and realize something is terribly wrong. Something is killing the lodgepole pine trees in Western Canada. Do you see the “red” trees? They are dead lodgepole pines, and the blight has engulfed nearly half the forest in Jasper National Park.

In this picturesque view of the Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park, you can see the “red” trees. Acres of lodgepole pine trees are dying, and they only regenerate after a forest fire.

The villain behind this vast arboricide is a tiny insect called the mountain pine beetle. It lays eggs under the bark that leads to fungus, blocking the circulation inside a pine tree trunk, killing it. With the warmer weather of climate change, the pine beetle has flourished, unchecked by mild winters.

What is Parks Canada going to do? For a long time, the answer was “nothing,” because the philosophy was not to interfere with the ways of Nature. Recently, however, workers have begun cutting down some of the dead trees to reduce fire risk to nearby communities.

Botanists have discovered that the lodgepole pine cones, containing the seeds that would start regeneration only open in the extreme heat of a forest fire. After a natural forest fire has swept the acreage, then the seeds will begin to grow the next generation of lodgepole pines. To me, it seems like a harsh path of evolution wherein the pest thrives, the verdant hillside dies and waits for lightening to strike.

To read more about the pine beetle crisis, you can click here.

The Glistening Bow River

From the summit of Sulphur Mountain, high above Banff, let’s travel down to the Bow River flowing past the village of Banff. Enjoy a scenic walk with me into Banff past the falls and across the pedestrian bridge. On this day, there was plenty of sunshine, fresh air and no sound but the rushing water and the gravel underfoot.

The clear rushing waters below the falls lead the eye toward the distant mountains of Banff National Park.

This image will be included in the 2020 wall calendar Cathy just designed, featuring photographs of the Canadian Rockies. Send Cathy an email if you would like to reserve a calendar for yourself or a holiday gift.

Can I walk on this lake?

Gazing at the clarity of the rocks under water and the clarity of the reflection on the lake, I’m not sure what would happen if I stepped into this lake… Would my sneakers get wet as I balanced and slid on those round rocks? Or is the lake surface really reflective glass that would allow me to walk across?

Jasper Park Lodge sits unnoticed on the far side of this mirror lake in Alberta, Canada.

I have to give my husband Charlie all the credit for suggesting that we walk a few miles back from the town of Jasper to the Jasper Park Lodge. We approached the Lodge along the lake and golf course on a perfect September afternoon.

Evening sun at Maligne Lake

Looking for wildlife in Jasper National Park one evening, we stopped to admire the view at Maligne Lake. The wide vista offered a tapestry of blue and green hues, stretching from the clouds in the sky to the ripples in the lake and the evergreens on the lakeshore.

A serene September evening at Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park by Cathy Kelly.

This image will be included in my 2020 Landscape photography calendar. If you would enjoy a new collection of Cathy Kelly’s images for the low price of a calendar, email Cathy to put your name on the list!

Hello Sunshine

After two days of rain and fog over Lake Louise and Emerald Lake, you can image how grateful we were to see the sun shine on Athabasca Falls.

Make sure to stop at Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta Canada if you drive yourself. A boardwalk provides many different views of this natural wonder.

I included the man in the red jacket for a few reasons. I used to hate it when a tourist in my frame wore red and stood out, but now I feel differently. I know that I can remove him in Photoshop most of the time, and on the other hand, including a person in the landscape helps to provide scale and help the viewer imagine himself in the scene. What do you think?

Vibrant Moraine Lake

Even in a steady rain, the vibrant color of Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada is striking. Add some fall color for contrast, and include some fallen tree trunks for foreground elements, and you the viewer are right there with me, walking along the lake’s edge.

Walking along Moraine Lake in the rain, we admired the Canadian Rockies and their glaciers.

Blue Hour at Lake Louise

Making this long exposure (1.6 seconds) of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada after sunset inspired me to read about the blue hour.

While the scene was quite dark to the naked eye, a long exposure made while the Sony camera rests motionless on a tripod allows the sensor to collect all the blue light present at dusk, or nautical twilight.

A scientist named Chappuis discovered that the ozone layer absorbs ultra violet light, and after sunset this Chappuis absorption has a significant effect on the color of the sky. I’m going to have to learn more about light wavelengths to understand this in depth.

As a photographer, I will remember the soft and soothing effect of this blue hour. Some artists enjoy photographing city scapes featuring yellow incandescent light during the blue hour. Have you tried it?