Great-Blue-HeronAll those birds great and small…

A great blue heron silhouetted on the budding branches. I love this time of year.

The low hum of spring is now a cacophony of migrating birds sounds. Just in time for World Migratory Bird Day (There’s a day for everything!).

© Karen McRae, 2014

The River’s Edge





At-the-Edges3The river ice is breaking up slowly. Shifting a little everyday in the sun and wind and really coming open where there are strong undercurrents. I was a little surprised to see this snapping turtle floating at the frayed edges of the ice, able to lift its head for air but otherwise shifting with the water like a piece of driftwood, too cold to move. It’s been a long winter for everybody and spring has been tentative. We have land now, though. Earth, mud, grit and weathered grasses. The snow is mostly gone, we are just waiting on the river…




© Karen McRae, 2014

The First Few Days












Openwater_Frost10The first few days of the year have been very cold. I am frequently lured out in this weather – it is one of my favourite times to make photographs – as the landscape shifts in and out of light and the breath from the river envelopes everything in its wintriness.

The sighting of a robin used to be a harbinger of spring but it is no longer uncommon to come across small flocks of overwintering robins. These robin photographs were made on one of the coldest days of the winter.


© Karen McRae, 2014

Cold Blue



ColdBlue1It’s hard to resist the beauty of a really cold morning (-25c early this morning, according to our thermometre). At the edge of the rapids the turbulent water shifts the forming ice into different shapes and during the cold nights the surfaces grow carpets of feathery frost. The horizon is lost in a fog of water vapour.

FeatherFrost3A closeup of feather frost on an icy surface

GoldenEyeDucksAs I was out making photographs I spotted many brave ducks that seem to be willing to tough it out and spend the winter in and around the open water. Pictured are a couple of shy goldeneye ducks above, and what I think is an American black duck below.

The-Misted-CityA little glimpse of the city which is not far away

[Similar ice compositions to a post I did last year here, but the cold is a month earlier!]

© Karen McRae, 2013

Gold & Silver

GoldenMussel shells just under the surface and golden light on ice

Flight-and-fall2A chickadee in flight and leaves in the creek

It’s quite cold here now. Yesterday I bundled up and spent several hours outside. The birds were very busy foraging for food and the chickadees were especially friendly. They would land on my shoulder or hand, unexpectedly, expectantly. A gentle whirring sound of wings in my ears. And the most tender questioning “peep peep” from a nuthatch that flitted close by, wondering too, if I had little seeds in my pockets. I did.

As it becomes very cold the landscape transforms in strange and wonderful ways. The ice forming at river’s edge is bordering on Seussian but I haven’t yet found a way to make good photographs. Photographs that show the magic of it. Part of the fun is trying to figure that out, I suppose. Anyway, if you are looking for gold and silver, it’s not far away. You just might have to dress warm.

StarlingsWater reflections and starlings in flight ~ there seems to be a flock of them hanging around for the winter

© Karen McRae, 2013

A Small Gathering

A-Gathering-_-EgretsI made several photographs of these Great Egrets quite a while ago but I never felt like the images really expressed the extraordinary experience of being with these graceful creatures. I say ‘being with’ because I was standing in the water not too far from them – there was no long lens in my camera bag that day so I was pushing my luck.

Anyway, I have played with this image a little, adding a layer of … recollection, I guess. This what it feels like to wade with the egrets.

© Karen McRae, 2013

How Does One Creative Process Shape Another?



I was poking through archives, thinking about a particular painting I’m working on and looking for a visual reference. Texture, colour, form … Perhaps I over-think these things … In any case, I found a bit of spring, and a bit of autumn. If you put them together it seems you don’t get summer. But anyway, it is these earthy tones that draw me in.

I remember walking among these young trees in the early spring, the water high, and the thin trunks appearing like lanky hoofed legs wading in a river mangrove. Their reflections moving like a deep gentle breath. What sort of creatures would be attached to these spindly legs?

Of course, there is no such thing as a mangrove here, but if there was, it would be in this place where the trees are living on the edge rooted in both water and land.

Like the shifting seasons – one foot here, the other stepping towards the next. Tentatively. So far.
WaterRooted3As I write this there is classical music (mostly strings) playing in the background. Would my text be shaped differently if I had been listening to another sort of music? Would I have chosen different words or remembered these experiences the same way?
How does one creative process (in this case, listening) shape another?

[These images are layered photographs, made with equal parts of spring and fall]

© Karen McRae, 2013