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21 pics from ’21

Walking into a new year. Take care as signs may wobble. © J. Ashley Nixon

Since 2010, I have assembled annual collections of images representing my photographic work around people and places with a focus on sustainability, culture and natural heritage. The project has progressively grown to match the year so, at the end of 2021, I have twenty-one photos to share. The set holds images that appeal to me for their narrative message or other photographic attributes. It also includes some of my own “favourites”, which I hope will connect in some ways with you as well.

On the Elbow

My study of wildlife in the Elbow Valley was augmented on the discovery of a beaver dam further upstream from a nesting pair of ospreys I have been photographing for two years.

A beaver swims in her pond in the Elbow Valley, Calgary, Canada. © J. Ashley Nixon

Although the fish-eating birds failed to breed again, their tree-chewing colleagues were creating a pond, thus slowing down and retaining more open water. This keystone species provides a valuable watershed stewardship role, both for nature conservation and our climate change adaptation. 

Ospreys nesting in the Elbow Valley, Alberta, Canada. © J. Ashley Nixon

I continued to research cliff swallows nesting under the Barry Erskine Bridge in Weaselhead Park and put more into exploring the social use of the Elbow for a future publication. June, normally a comfortable month, hit high-temperature records (35 C) in Calgary and combined with rising water levels from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains, this triggered a flotilla of inflatables down the river and a more surprising event: bridge jumping.

Masked graduations

COVID-19 continued to occupy, and threaten our lives. My son and daughter graduated from university and high school, respectively. Celebrations were muted. The masked-up, drive-in ceremony at Mount Royal University, where I teach, was, however, conducted with good humour as graduates saluted one another with car horns.

University classes were reinstated for the fall semester but by the end of the year a return, perhaps temporary, to online delivery in winter 2022 was announced as the Omicron viral wave crashed through.

World Heritage. Environmental Change

For a second year my travel, like yours, was restricted and plans to return to Britain and photograph Airedale, Yorkshire, and make more visual stories around sustainability and culture in Peru were once again put on hold. Several Alberta-based projects were made possible, however, albeit compromised by rampant forest fires, and my new publication World Heritage. Environmental Change was released by Betula Books to coincide with an exhibition in Rotary Park, Calgary in early 2022.

Smoke from forest fires blocks the sun and fills the air. Revelstoke, British Columbia. © J. Ashley Nixon

UNESCO has listed over one thousand World Heritage sites. Each one is recognized for its Outstanding Universal Value, that is, “cultural and or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.”

Five World Heritage sites in Alberta, Canada, are included in World Heritage. Environmental Change: Writing-on-Stone/ Áísínai’pi Provincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.

More pics from ’21

You can view more of my 21 pics from ’21 here.

Thank you for reading, for your support and interest in my books, photography and films in 2021. Wishing you a good and better year in 2022. Keep well.

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