Practising with a 50mm

When you think of an outdoor lens, the 50mm is not usually the first lens that comes to mind. However, if you mainly shoot with primes, and don’t have the option or convenience to change the composition on the fly, practising with a lens is a great idea. Taking one lens on a photo outing forces you to think of all your shots with that particular focal lens. It is a challenge I love doing and this time was no exception.

Sunset over Anne and Sandy Cross Conservation Area

For me, personally, I find I use my wide angle or telephoto primes mainly with shooting, so I relished the thought of practising with my 50mm this time. We went out to Anne and Sandy Cross conservation area just south of Calgary. Easily one of my favourite places to explore as they have tons of trails but also its fairly quiet when you think of other places close by like Fishcreek or Nose hill park.

Sandy Cross Trails

Having over 20km’s of trails, it is perfect if you are just looking for somewhere close to home that has beautiful views, Cross conservation is the perfect place to get shots of rolling hills or forests. As a photographer, the only scene it is missing is running water like a stream. The watering hole near the main house near the entrance has signs around it that ask people to keep their distance.

Caterpillar in Cross Conservation Area

There is an abundance of wildlife if that type of photography interests you. I have often seen a large herd of deer on the way up to the Mountain Lookout. As well as tracks of weasels, skunks, coyotes, to name a few mammals. The abundant birdlife during the summer is spectacular.  (Since I was only using a 50mm, this is the closest I was able to get to the local fauna).

Relic at Cross Conservation

If you get a free day and want to explore near Calgary, I definitely recommend grabbing your camera and heading out to the Cross Conservation Area for the day.

Frank Lake

About fifty kilometers south of Calgary is a wetland called Frank Lake. Controlled by Ducks Unlimited Canada, the wetland is special due to the fact that it is one of the few places in the area to see the White-Faced Ibis.

White-faced ibis flying
White-faced ibis flying

I went there this past weekend and had great fun seeing all types of birds. The big draw for the area is the permanent blind that has been set up to give visitors a place to sit and watch quietly. Between the parking space (Which is little more than a cul-de-sac) and the blind is a hundred yard boardwalk through tall reeds. This early in the year, the reeds haven’t had enough time to grow tall but there are still a few stubborn ones from last year for some birds to perch on, like this Yellow-Headed Black Bird.

Yellow-Headed Black Bird in reeds

Once inside the blind, Ducks Unlimited Canada has outfitted the walls with pictures of the most commonly seen water birds. To the front, the blind looks out over the lake while on the left and right sides, the blind looks out over more sheltered parts of the lake. Its to the left and right that I find most birds seem to be during the day.

One little tip is that, if you were to go to the edge of the blind in the front and lean out while looking under the eves of the blind, you would see a tiny little swallow nest. There are some babies in there so don’t get too close but if you keep an eye on it, you will see the parents flying to and fro providing food for the babies. Sometimes the parents also allow for some great photos on their mission.

Swallow on a Fence Post
Swallow on a Fence Post
Swallows in blind
Swallows in blind

All in all Frank Lake is a great day trip out where you can relax for a bit and watch the day go by. Its not strenuous to get there and nothing too surprising, so take a book, go and relax for a few hours and get some great shots of birds. Definitely recommend this place! Below are a few shots from my trip down there.

Frank Lake Pathway
Frank Lake Pathway

 

Baby Swallows
Baby Swallows