Saskatchewan, Canada by Scott Aspinall

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In July 2020, some friends and I visited this unique Saskatchewan nature area. Storms had hit the area the day before and the road that accesses the trailhead was a muddy mess, so we had to hike in the extra distance carrying our cameras and star trackers for astrophotography later. We made a couple of stops at different clay formations, admiring the unique geology. It was on our second stop that one of my friends began yelling excitedly at us that he had found some fascinating textures. He wasn't wrong. The rain had washed down a clay hoodoo and filled a flat, textureless section of white clay with compelling mud tiles and cracks. I was looking forward to shooting this scene at sunset, thinking that the white clay would reflect the colours of the sunset sky, giving some additional interest.

The goal, though, was to get to a tree in the middle of a field of wildflowers. But by the time we got to the tree for sunset, I was hot, tired, tick-infested, and itchy; I didn't relish the thought of going back through the long grass for what might be an interesting photograph. As the conversation shifted to astrophotography, I noticed that the milky way alignment was perfect behind the tree in front of us. I groaned as I realized at that moment that I left my star tracker back at these mud tiles as I had intended to shoot astro there. I determined right then and there that I was going to photograph this mud tile scene at sunset. So I hiked (actually, I ran) back to this spot to take advantage of the reflected light from a breathtaking sunset for one of my favourite photographs of the summer.

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