Winter Moo

Sal

I took two days out of Christmas festivities to drive out of Calgary, just south of the city, to capture the landscape in snow. Getting out of Calgary is easy. Remarkably easy. In 20 minutes you can leave the congested roads, the Starbucks drive thrus, the line ups for mall parking lots and the enclosure of buildings. It all just slips away. The spaces between buildings get larger and larger until the buildings are insignificant. Fences, power lines, trees, hills, sky and open roads become the navigation system. You are out. Out in the rolling hills of the prairie.

Part of the architect in me is attracted to the pure forms of the prairie landscape. While the bigness of the sky is ever present in Calgary, the horizon is cluttered with citiness. Out of the city, the sky meets its natural partner, the land. It was not a particularly harsh winter and so there was not a lot of snow on the ground. While in the city it just seemed leftover and reminiscent of winter, out of the city, the snow was magnificent on stubby fields. On Saturday, it lit up like gold under a warm light. Shining through the white snow, it was dazzling. Sunday it snowed.  These two days yielded two very different days of light. Resulting in different forms, different horizons and different colours.

I began photographing bison last summer, collecting some ideas for Home on the Range and I wanted to return and see how their woolly coats suited them in -25 degree weather. This time I couldn’t get as close as the summer and the resulting distance yielded images of huddling, furry, delicate creatures on very tiny legs. They look like inky blots on the white winterscape.

Winter does not only create magnificent landscapes in Alberta, it demands winter coats for all the creatures who live there. And the cows have some of the best winter coats I have ever seen. Thick and curly, the snow collects on their backs and their heads, creating incredible patterns on their deliciously thick coats. Naturally skittish, and prone to running away when faced with a camera, I practiced my best sneaking up skills on them so they wouldn’t run away. The result was a series that to me, celebrates their beauty and their humour, all at the same time.

 

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