I respectfully acknowledge that the land in and around Elk Island National Park is located within the Treaty 6 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ ᐊᐢᑭᕀ Nêhiyaw-Askiy (Plains Cree), Michif Piyii (Métis), Cree people.

It was probably about four years ago when I was driving through the countryside during a gorgeous autumn sunset. I was driving alongside a farm where there were a few cows in their pen, the sun was in perfect alignment to create a silhouette of them and their environment, the fog was rolling in, and you could see their breaths in the crisp autumn air. I think it would have made an amazing photograph but unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. This was the photo that got away…

Fast forward to when I was driving back to Edmonton through Elk Island National Park at sunset after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at my parents (with my camera this time) hoping to see some bison again as there were plenty out and about at sunrise that same morning. (Perks of early morning travel!) I had come around a corner to see a bison in a small clearing rolling around in the dirt, dust was everywhere and it was catching the glow of the setting sun. I was immediately reminded of the cows that I saw a few years back. I needed to redeem myself and get this shot. (No pressure!)

Unfortunately, the bison had got back up and the dust settled just as I got close enough to take a photo. I pulled over as safely as I could (there was no shoulder to park on). Putting the hazards on, opening the passenger window, grabbing my camera, reaching over my passenger and taking aim to frame the shot. Thankfully the bison was still in the clearing and didn’t run off into the distance like the majestic elk did that morning. I took a quick shot and checked to see if my settings were okay then quickly made some adjustments to get shot I was envisioning. Another shot, and another one just to make sure I actually did get it in focus. (All while glancing back on the road to make sure we are still safe from possible traffic coming up behind me) I looked back at the photo after those three quick shots, BEAUTY! This was it! I started vibrating in excitement, and shed a tear (or two) of joy. (Yes, I sometimes get emotional over photography!)

There wasn’t much to do in terms of editing this photograph as I was able to create what I wanted in the camera all thanks to the perfect lighting. (It’s great when that happens!) I levelled out the horizon, increased the sharpness, contrast and clarity a little bit, increased the luminance on the orange and yellow, and adjusted the highlights, shadows, whites an black just enough to give the photo some depth.

Use the slider on the image below to check out the before (straight out of camera) and after (final edit) comparison.

This shot made up for missing out on that photo of the cows, it made up for the times I have driven through this same park without seeing any animals. It made up for all the times I leave without getting “THE” photo.

Until next time, chase the stoke!
– Tracey

Chase the Stoke Mountains


  • You will need a Parks Canada Pass or daily admission to enter into Elk Island National Park.
  • When photographing wildlife, please keep your distance. Parks Canada recommends 30 meters from large animals and 100 meters from bears. Never bait, call, crowd, chase, or capture an animal to take a photo.

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