This is NOT your mother’s potpourri! Nope, no mix of dried flowers and spices carefully blended in a decorative bowl here. Instead, it’s the latest instalment of the Photo Blogging Challenge. 🙂

I’ve taken my inspiration from the alternate definition of potpourri: a collection of various items (in this case photographs) which were not originally intended to form a group. By selecting fall foliage, I give a slight nod to the dish of potpourri that used to grace my grandmother’s dresser.

1. Bull Elk

Okay, the autumn leaves are purely incidental in this first photo. But the annual elk rut coincides with the falling of leaves. We spotted two bull elk on this morning walk in Canmore. They were trying to cross the Three Sisters Parkway. But the high traffic volume turned them back into the residential neighbourhood, perhaps to try again later. FYI, we were across a creek gully and shooting with a 200mm equivalent lens from several bus lengths away. Also FYI, Parks Canada and local wildlife coexistence authorities recommend staying “at least 3 bus lengths” away from elk, especially during rutting and calving.

bull elk breathing steam

2. Three Sisters Multi-Use Pathway

We try to use active transport between home and downtown Canmore. But it’s about 7 km (4.3 miles) one way. So if we walk, we often catch free local transit home. Or we bike, because 15 km is just more manageable on a bike. Most of the distance, we pedal along the Three Sisters Multi-Use Pathway, one of the most scenic paths in town thanks to the extended meadow section which allows for expansive views of the surrounding mountain peaks. I stopped to capture fallen leaves not yet blown off the pathway by the prevailing west winds – a rarity! As a result, Mr. GeoK pulled ahead!

poplar leaf potpourri

3. Poplar Tree Photography

Several times a year we pedal our bikes from home in Canmore, along the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail to Banff. Often, our turnaround point is Cascade Ponds – a short distance outside the Banff townsite and a long ways from the tourist crowds. On our last 2022 ride to this destination, we had the picnic area to ourselves. And the grand old poplar trees made great subjects for both conventional and more creative photographs. Here’s Mr GeoK practicing intentional camera movement. One of my ICM photographs of this tree is the header image for this post. For more photos from this ride, check out Mr GeoK’s Relive video recap.

poplar leaf potpourri

4. Aspen Cathedral

One of my favourite hiking destinations in Bow Valley Provincial Park is along Stoney Trail to a large aspen grove. It’s beautiful anytime of year, especially with a blue sky overhead. We timed it right! Bright yellow leave hung from the branches like stained glass supported by natural timber.

looking up at aspen trees in autumn

5. Intentional Camera Movement – Vertical Pan

Thanks to the built-in “Live ND” feature in the OM System OM-1 camera, I have the computational equivalent of a neutral density filter at the push of a button. This feature is great for blurring movement, like smoothing ocean waves, getting smoother reflections on a lake, silky-smooth flowing waterfall shots and blurring people moving through a busy scene.

But it can also be used to creative effect. How? By deliberately moving your camera when the shutter is open. Horizontal pans are often used at high shutter speeds to freeze a fast-moving car or bicycle rider, but they can also be used to blur stationary objects on purpose. Vertical pans work well for trees. Zooming or widening your telephoto lens while the shutter is open creates a bit of a star effect or a sort of bigger/smaller double exposure effect, depending on the subject and the timing of the zoom burst. You can turn your camera in a circle while the shutter is open. Or try random movement. It’s really a matter of trial and error to figure out some things that work and then practicing to refine the technique.

This is a vertical pan of the same aspen grove from a fairly wide angle. I took another vertical pan with more telephoto reach to get a tighter grouping of trees. But I like this one because it shows the fall colour at ground level and there’s just enough orange/black in the lower left “rule of thirds” intersection that I know Mr GeoK is standing there among the trees.

vertical pan intentional camera movement up aspen tree trunks in autumn

That’s my potpourri collection of photographs not originally intended to form a group. I hope they convey that fall colour in this part of the world is pretty much limited to yellow and gold, with the odd bit of orange and red if you look really hard.

I’m keen to see what other PBC participants photographed for potpourri. I’ll be hopping on over to PJ’s blog to check out the link up at the bottom of his post. You can find it here.

Kudos to everyone who participates each month, and for fostering such a close-knit and supportive community.

Please join us for November. The theme is InstaSnap. Try to use a phone or mobile app for your photos; or at least process through them. You need five photos. The extent of accompanying text is entirely up to you. (FYI, my posts are pretty wordy.) Need help with options for getting started with a free blog? Drop a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

4 thoughts on “Potpourri

  1. Oh my! That elk is magnificent! I always love your photos and unique perspective and this post is no exception. The vertical pan is fantastic!

  2. cmiked

    That virtual ND filter seems like a great feature. The iphone has an option to fake a long exposure using the LIVE photo option. The elk is gorgeous and kudos for staying many busses away. Love the Aspen trees!

  3. What a beautiful elk bull! Keeping a three bus lengths’ distance seems reasonable though. He’s gonna be stronger and faster than me for sure.
    A blue sky and colorful fall leaves always make for wonderful pictures. Did you have your first snow yet?

  4. I look forward to the photo challenge each month for both the pictures and the commentary. Your thoughtful, creative approach and the details you share on how the moment was captured really add to the experience. Thank you for sharing your journey! The Relive video was incredible, too! Thanks for the link.

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