Landscapes

Evening skies over the Waterton National Park

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-4026

The night skies around Waterton were magical in the weekend that we were down there (Aurora and the Milky Way).  Even better were the sunsets we were treated to as night fell.

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-3345The golds came in softly and then gave way to deep purples and pinks as the waning light skipped under the clouds above the western flank of Waterton National Park in southern Alberta.   The first and last files were in-camera HDR images taken with my Canon 5DIII – I use this function rarely but for the second night’s sunsets, it seemed well suited to me.

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-3388

 

 

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-4020


The Milky Way over Waterton

Milky Way over Waterton - © Christopher Martin-3462

The stars in the Waterton area shine brilliantly under the dark sky.  From our campsite, my son and I could make out the Milky Way as it rose out of the mountains that line the valley from the town and down the lake.


Chief Mountain

The Chief over gold - © Christopher Martin-3954

When I was in Waterton with my son our campsite had a beautiful view of Chief Mountain.  Over the couple of days we stayed there, I grabbed a few images of the mountain through the evenings.  I love its profile from this direction and the surrounding landscape is magical.

Waterton at dusk - © Christopher Martin-3371

The Chief at at dusk - © Christopher Martin-3425


Aurora Borealis in Waterton

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4124

My son and I camped at the Waterton Springs Campground, on the edge of the national park, a week ago.  On the second night the Northern Lights came out and danced along the northern horizon.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4127

The campground is in the rolling foothills that lead up to the mountains so it was less than a hop, skip and a jump to a rise where we could get great views of aurora.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4148

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4091

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4101


Dusk in the Crowsnest Pass

Crowsnest Dusk - © Christopher Martin-3199

I had a wonderful getaway camping with my son in the Waterton National Park last weekend.  Along the way down there, I travelled through the Crowsnest Pass just as the sunlight was slipping off the peaks and giving way to the night.  I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the transition and this photograph is the one I made from the many peaks stacked around the valley.  A mountain unknown to me but beautiful in its isolation.

August 16th update – my Uncle Bill, Auntie Ann and cousins Chad and Darren, who lived in the Crowsnest Pass area for many years, discussed this peak and confirmed that it is Mount Tecumseh.  Thank you family!


Catching early light in the clouds

Prairie dawn over Springbank - © Christopher Martin-8717-2

The perch on the hill I photographed the Aurora Borealis and lightning storm from a couple of weeks ago is now officially one of my favourite prairie viewpoints.  On the weekend, I left my home in the dark and headed northeast towards the growing dawn.  With a short drive I returned back to the same spot and found the view to be beautiful.

Prairie Dawn - © Christopher Martin-8716

A heavy cloud stretched overhead towards the horizon with a break which allowed the first rays of pink sunlight to skip along the underside.  The fast rising sun quickly changed the light from pink to gold as it pushed through less of the atmosphere.

Prairie Dawn - © Christopher Martin-8747

 

 


A wicked lightning storm

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8527

One of my drives home earlier this week was made more exciting by a massive thundercloud just south of Highway 8.  I stopped near the Rockyview Fire Department in Elbow Valley and photographed as it rumbled past.  There were a few lightning strikes that I managed to capture but I was paying more attention to the angry beast.

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8558

It was dark, dark grey in the center, the edges were rolling fast and the temperature plunged by 10°C or more just before the rain began to fall.  I scurried back into my car once the volume raised up to a downpour.  Back on the road, I wondered how the storm would develop as it moved eastward.  The next morning, I learned that it contributed to the flooding and heavy hail that beat up Chestermere.  That was one of the mean summer storms we get in the Calgary area and I am sorry to hear about the damage it caused.

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8566


Lightning and the Northern Lights? Last night there was.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8480

I came home late last night after watching the chuckwagon finals and the final grandstand show of the 2015 Calgary Stampede.  That was a great night (thank you Larissa and Sean) and as I cleared the city driving home, it became that much better.  From the Trans-Canada Highway, I looked northward and could easily see the glow of the Aurora Borealis stretched between Cochrane and Calgary.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8231-2

Altering my course, I drove towards the Springbank airport and found a good hill to watch the sky from.  While setting up my camera gear, lightning flashed from deep within the thunder clouds that hung low in the sky.  The party was in full swing and I was excited to join in, albeit from a distance, and start photographing.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8353-4

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8208

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8344

The auroras were rippling above these clouds and it made for an incredible experience.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8457

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8474

I stayed out for two hours watching as the storms slowly wound down while the entire northern sky was painted on with ethereal beauty.  Early on, the lightning streaked to the ground several times in different parts of the sky and ripped across the clouds regularly.  In the second hour, the Aurora Borealis grew larger and brighter while the storm separated as the clouds spread out across the prairies.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8499

 

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8459


The Northern Lights over southern Alberta

Aurora Borealis above the forest  - © Christopher Martin-5571

I live in a forest community along the Elbow River near Bragg Creek in Alberta.  I often enjoy watching the stars against the silhouette of the trees.  When I saw the Aurora Borealis begin to shade the northern sky once dusk’s afterglow darkened, I raced around to set up my gear on the deck.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5561

It turned out to be a very active aurora and I had a couple of hours to watch the colors ripple across different parts of the northern sky.  The beauty above was met in equal measure by the sounds of the crickets and birds and the relaxed touch of a warm, summer wind.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5643-2

The time drifted by without any ties to an actual clock and I felt pleasantly ensconced in my own little world.  The Northern Lights seem to have that effect on me.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5612


Aurora over the prairie

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3907

A little over a week ago, on June 13th, I spent a night out on the prairies near Nanton.  I love the vast skies and many of the interesting things that fill them – above and below.  I settled into my sleeping bag to watch the stars while I drifted off.  That idea evaporated when I received an Aurora Red Alert indicating that there was a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3745

(If any images look a little grainy, please click on the picture to open a higher resolution version in a new window)

The image directly above was one of the first taken once I was set up.  I used a long exposure of 30 seconds to stretch out the lights of a semi-trailer traveling north along Highway 2.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3923

I played around there for a while before moving further east to reduce the golden glow on the undersides of the clouds resulting from High River’s lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3900

I found a quiet field several miles away and the timing worked out as the spikes in the Aurora had just started to appear.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3910

The Northern Lights were still glowing as dawn started to push into the sky and before 4 AM I was transitioning into sunrise landscapes.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3953


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