Fishing skills

Fall travel season is a great time to hone your photography skills


Fall is our favorite time to travel to the West. The weather is still generally comfortable for camping, hiking and fishing. The showy fall colors reach their peak and the wildlife tends to be more active. A bonus is that the bugs are gone, as well as the summer crowds.

The highlight for us is that this is the perfect season for photography. Peak times for photographers are the golden hours just after sunrise and just before sunset, when the light looks most flattering.

In the middle of summer we have to get up ridiculously early for sunrise, but in the fall the sun makes good sense to rise at a more civilized time.

Photographing the night sky is also much easier.

In the summer we often wait until the middle of the night to have a sky dark enough to photograph the stars, but now it is dark in the early evening.

Fall is a great time to view wildlife. In a previous column, we looked at the spectacular migration of waterfowl. But there is more to see than birds. The rutting season is beginning for many horned and antlered creatures, the most impressive being the male elk who establish territory and try to impress the females by strutting and shouting, a piercing sound that often echoes for miles. Such high stakes sometimes lead to serious bull battles.

The best places to see elk rut are usually in national parks, as the lack of hunting pressure makes the animals less fearful of people. Parks in the Rockies, and Jasper in particular, are generally good bets.

In Saskatchewan, head to Prince Albert National Park, where elk often roam near the town of Waskesiu.

Fall is a great time to view wildlife. | Photo by Robin and Arlene Karpan

One of Manitoba’s major hot spots is Riding Mountain National Park. The town of Onanole, just outside the park, even has a huge statue of a bugle elk as a mascot.

We have traveled to Grasslands National Park several times over the years, but our best wildlife viewing trip was a visit in October. With cooler weather and fewer visitors, everything from deer and moose to bison and coyotes was active. A unique feature of the park is the huge colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs, the only place in Canada where we can see them in their natural habitat. We even ran into a coyote while snatching one for lunch.

For most photographers, the main draw of the season is the display of fall colors. A simple photo of the forest or even a single tree is fine, but with a little planning and a few simple techniques we can add another dimension to our images.

One way is to put photos in context and give them a sense of belonging. For example, including a mountain peak as a backdrop in the image means that it is no longer just a photo of fall colors, but rather fall colors in the Rockies. We can also incorporate rivers, lakes, waterfalls, badlands and various other landforms as backdrops to create that sense of place.

Learn to embrace the cloudy weather. While sunny weather is great for ensemble shots, cloudy weather may be best for many fall photos. This is especially the case when trying to photograph under the forest canopy. Sunny conditions can be intensely contrasted in the forest, with dark shadows and too bright sunlight filtering through the canopy. Cloudy skies produce softer light with a better balance between shadows and highlights. When there are different hues in the scene, the softer light also makes it easier to capture subtle differences.

Most people imagine the forests of the north when they think of the colors of fall, but the valleys of the rivers and streams in the south, like that of Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, can be even more vibrant due to the variety of colors. shrubs, herbs and other plants. | Photo by Robin and Arlene Karpan

Mention the color of fall and most people immediately imagine the northern forest. But as most prairie people know, grassland flows, as well as southern river and stream valleys, can be even more vibrant due to the variety of shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation. . In addition, the color tends to persist longer in the fall, usually after the leaves of the trees have disappeared.

Some spots of grassland color that we love include Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park in southern Saskatchewan, almost anywhere along the South Saskatchewan River Valley and the Red Deer River Valley in Alberta.

Some of our favorite fall photos include the ground cover and the shore of an alkaline lake where we see lots of dazzling tones, but not a tree or shrub in sight.

Now is the time of year to go see what you can find and enjoy the many nuances of this special season.

Arlene and Robin Karpan are well-traveled writers who live in Saskatoon. Contact: