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An intimate landscape photograph of sidelit cracked mud at the Massold Clay Canyons in Saskatchewan

Fragments – 2021

South Saskatchewan during the summer of 2021 was extremely dry. Near the end of June and throughout July, we typically get several weeks of supercell thunderstorms that bring much-needed heavy rain to the province. 2021 was a different storm season. I’ve personally never seen a slower season in my four years of chasing storms, and more veteran chasers said this was the slowest season in almost two decades.

When things are hot and dry, it’s not a huge motivator to go out and shoot. So when one evening finally brought supercell thunderstorms to the southern half of the province, I was thankful. An effect of monsoon rainfall is quick and heavy run-off that fills low-lying areas. When the sun bakes these areas over the next few days, the water evaporates and the top layer of the clay begins to crack.

I had introduced Bryce Mironuck to this nature preserve a couple of years back, exploring it together. But this time, it was him texting to let me know that conditions were incredible. He said the clay was cracking and peeling and we needed to get down to photograph soon, a proposition I agreed with heartily.

Smoke had become a mainstay during this summer and that night was no different. We had planned to be there for sunset with fellow Saskatchewan photographer Logan Hertes to try and get some of that red and blue reflected light on the clay. But, because of the smoke, that light never happened. Thankfully I had brought a couple of Lumecubes with warm light filters to try and sidelight the cracks during blue hour. They were, of course, stone dead when I pulled them out of the pack. So, I grabbed my phone, turned on my flashlight and held the warm light filter against it, using it to light this scene.

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