Chilly Winter Mornings | Rural Alberta Photography

by on April 12, 2014

It had been too long since I’ve went searching for rural Alberta charm and decided to head out a winter morning back in January. On that particular morning, it was fairly mild, around 3C, but windy enough where it was hard to stand still whilst shooting with winds gusting to 70km+ at times, dropping the temps below zero with the wind chill. As I headed east, the sky looked completely flat and boring, but as I continued down those Alberta back roads I’m so fond of, I finally found some colours and textures in the sky. Not a large system for sure, but enough where I decided I might be able to shoot my target. I reached for the Canon 14mm ƒ2.8L and the pumpjacks were lost in the frame with this extreme wide angle lens, so I grabbed my old 1D Mark III, the 70-200mm ƒ2.8L, and the often critical Apex bean bag and started shooting, only this time flipping the bag upside down and shooting from the car hood, using this gear the rest of my relatively short shoot. The Apex came in handy since I forgot my tripod at home …. whoops, right?


Working pumpjack during a mid-winter sunrise, fine art oil and gas rural Alberta landscape.


Wanting to capture the classic pumpjack silhouette, I adjusted my settings, held tight onto my gear, at times fighting the strong winds, and fired away. We may not have tumbleweeds blowing by in our neck of the woods, but instead I saw debris, mainly bags and crates, tumble by, dancing across the prairies and continually jumping in my frame. Had I strapped my GoPro to my head this morning, I might have tried to create a knockoff of the flying scene of American Beauty (film buffs, anyone?), but instead I stuck with stills.


Working pumpjack in rural Alberta during a mid-winter sunrise, Alberta Oil and Gas. No. 1784.

Working pumpjack in rural Alberta during a mid-winter sunrise, Alberta Oil and Gas.

Strong winter sunrise over the Alberta prairies. Sidney Blake Photography. No. AD3R1821.


After 23 minutes of shooting target number one, since the sun was well on its way to illuminating the sky, I headed west to target number 2; a location I know to produce excellent sunsets when the light is right, thinking I’d take my chance on a sunrise and once settled, I waited for the sun to make its way over to me and start painting this Parkland County farm with morning light. In 71km / hr winds. Cold as hell. And it seemed to take hours. In all reality, it was about 24 minutes.

I wasn’t happy with the results of the sunrise because the snow seemed too crunchy and I didn’t like the colour cast the sun set on the dirty silos, but this image I captured as I waited for the sun to rise has grown on me. It’s a simple representation of quiet winter mornings on the Alberta prairies.


Winter dawn over a farm in Parkland County, rural Alberta. Sidney Blake Photography. No. AD3R1826.


As photographers, we are engineered to be able to read the light, but sometimes we just need to take the chance and if we’re lucky, we will be rewarded. If not, we were still out shooting, so how bad can that be, right?

Even though the sun seemed to take forever to rise, the morning light was gone within moments, and with no wildlife to be spotted anywhere nearby to shoot, I called this ridiculously windy and chilly morning to an end and headed back home for some cafe mocha Keurig goodness!


See you in the field.




Photographer. Podcaster on hiatus. Edmonton Oilers lovah. Cinematic Star Wars fan. Fond of wildlife conservation, animal rescue orgs, and all things Johnny Cash. Gen X. 

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