Rain has been a rare commodity in northern Arizona for the last couple of months. When clouds started to roll in from the north while we were down there people were hopeful that they would drop some of their precipitation before moving on. The rain did come eventually and the evening before I hiked along the airport trail to watch the storm’s approach.
I was content to watch the blues and greys in the sky deepen with night coming. However, a break in the clouds to the west allowed for some color to break through and I turned my attention out over West Sedona’s forested cityscape.
There was an uneven stream of traffic passing below me towards the airport and the lookouts around the mesa. Long exposures of cars driving up and down the road to the airport seemed to work well with this sunset.
A few days ago, the clouds were anchored along the eastern edge of the Rockies all afternoon and I was not sure how the sunset would develop. Well, I guess I was sure that the winter sun would go down early and fast but what the light would do was the question.
I found myself on the edge of Springbank, west of Calgary, at 5:30 and the clouds had stretched east across the prairies and were catching and filtering the rich glow from the sun now hidden behind the mountains.
It was a scene that didn’t require much input from me to create images. I did like the reflections on my car’s glass and hood so that provided an opportunity to play around a bit.
Bobbi and I are off to Sedona, Arizona tomorrow for a week – this landscape session provided a nice warm-up for the spectacular red rock scenery I’m looking forward to photographing down there.
Bobbi and I are in Cabo san Lucas with our children for a nice break from winter. We left just before a heavy blizzard so we were lucky with the timing. The mornings have been spectacular here as we are located on a lovely stretch of sand where the sun climbs out of the Sea of Cortez right in front of us. On this morning the silhouette of a fellow sunrise watcher tied the glowing pastels in the sky ahead of dawn to the rippled reflections and the beach.
Fuji X100S: 1/30 of a second at f/8 on ISO 800
I couldn’t help but think of the carnival ground food staple when I was photographing at dawn a couple of days ago.
Justifiably, the Grizzly bears I spent time watching in the Khutzeymateen cast a long shadow and much of my time there and since returning has been spent thinking about them. I have to say that even if I had seen no wildlife, the scenery in the Khutzeymateen is brilliant and I would have been able to fill my memory cards with landscape imagery.
The inlet is relatively narrow, running roughly a mile wide for most of its length. The mountains rise steeply up from the water, blanketed in most places with dense rainforest. The trees are broken up by chutes, large and otherwise, where the snow has conspired to avalanche and by areas where the barren rock has prohibited the forest’s advance.
Throughout the day, chains of mist evolve across the mountainsides. Whether under a leaden sky or in bright, open sunshine, these ethereal cousins to clouds continue unabated. It was a true pleasure to just relax and watch them travel past. While looking for the valley’s wildlife, I enjoyed picking out details along the coast as we motored past in the little zodiac boat.
On the second to last afternoon, the rain abated and the sun lit up the valley a little before night stepped in. It whispered of great weather and that held true for the next couple of days.
We sailed a few miles westwards towards the mouth of the inlet on the last evening. The light was warm, so was the air – a nice time to photograph off the bow.
That night, the moon was full and when it cleared the ridge above the cove, it was a beautiful scene to behold.
The last morning, dawn was spectacular.
A co-operative cloud anchored itself just above the horizon as dawn broke west of Calgary. I set up in the dark on the Jumping Pound overpass with my camera and tripod. When the sunlight started to paint the clouds, I liked how it contrasted with the vehicles and the lines on the road.
I was up in Kananaskis a few days ago to explore the recently opened stretch of Highway 40 up to the Highwood Pass. Leaving home in the dark, I arrived at Wedge Pond just as light was creeping into the eastern edge of the sky.
We had several days of rain preceding this visit so I was unsure what the weather would be like in the mountains. The reports called for partly sunny with showers. From experience, that can mean anything from empty blue skies to heavy, wet gray clouds. I don’t mind either so I was happy to head up and find out. That morning the mist was swirling above the pond and rising up to meet the low hanging clouds that were stuffed into the valley. I trotted down to the water’s edge and moved along keeping an eye on Mount Kidd. The mountain catches the early pre-dawn Alpen glow and can be spectacular right through sunrise. The view over Wedge and up to Kidd whispered of something good that might come and I was happy to move around, watching and waiting.
Seven minutes later, pink light was hitting a few of the higher clouds. The lower clouds were breaking up and it seemed like a clear view of the mountain was coming forward.
It didn’t – the clean view was swallowed up by the clouds as the rich colours on Mount Kidd came in. I didn’t mind at all as a few fleeting openings afforded beautiful views of one or two of the peaks for the next couple of minutes.
I have not had such a dynamic encounter with the weather up at Wedge Pond and I had a great time. It was fun to play around with the moodiness under the clouds balanced (and thrown out of balance) with the sunrise opening above. I’m enjoying the late resurgence of summer we are enjoying but I found myself looking forward to the fall colours that always look so wonderful in this special place. I will be there and would be very happy if these clouds returned then too.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 80 seconds at f/11 on ISO 800
During the tail-end of the full phase of August’s blue moon I went to the edge of the first of the Vermilion Lakes just west of the Banff townsite and set up for a night of long exposures. I drifted in and out of sleep but my timer remote stayed awake and kept running across the dark hours of the night. The clouds raced across the sky under pretty steady winds. With the longer exposures, they were stretched out and occasionally lent a mystical quality to the images.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 658 seconds at f/11 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 80 seconds at f/11 on ISO 800
As it drew closer to the morning, the land started to brighten and one of the last images revealed more of the scenery.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 238 seconds at f/11 on ISO 1000
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500
On the last night in the Khutzeymateen there was a short break in the clouds right as the full moon was clearing the tree tops across the bay. This was the fourth moon of the season earning the distinction of being a blue moon. It seemed an appropriate way to end a spectacular visit to this wonderful inlet.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 6.0 seconds at f/6.3 on ISO 800
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A couple of nights ago, lightning was being thrown around by several large storm clouds as they spread out and rolled over the prairies. After a spectacular sunset in Kananaskis Country earlier (the image below), I had just drove out of the mountains when I saw these strikes lighting up both the fields and the clouds.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40 lens: 1/160th of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 800
I ended up pulling off of the Trans-Canada Highway at Hermitage Road to watch this summer performance. It was just before 11pm when I set up my camera along a fence which was busy splitting up a meadow of wild grass. The moon was out and waxing near full so the land was gently lit up.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 2.5 seconds at f/5.6 on ISO 1600
It was warm but the mosquitos compelled me to put on a light jacket. When a breeze came up around midnight, it was a perfect night to be outdoors.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 10 seconds at f/8.0 on ISO 1600
Two hours flew by largely unnoticed before the storms had moved out of view and I decided to head home.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 6.0 seconds at f/6.3 on ISO 800
On the weekend, I found myself on a hill overlooking the farm fields south of Cochrane waiting for the morning to arrive. I had went out at 4 in the morning looking for the Northern Lights but they eluded me. This time of the year dawn comes early and by 4:30 there was already a bright line on the horizon to the east. I enjoyed listening to the birds waking up as I sat beside this gravel road hoping for a nice sunrise. As the sun prepared to rise, this wonderful cloud caught the early light and met all expectations that I brought to the day.
A few minutes later, the cloud hanging above the farmland took over the show. The colours and textures were brilliant. Dawn comes early but I’m rarely disappointed when I do force myself to roll out of bed and get out to enjoy it.
While the sun and the cloud were performing magic, the moon was full and glowing above the Rocky Mountains. I’m glad I had a look behind me while I was changing lenses as the view to the west was on equal terms with its eastern counterpart.
The second sunrise at Vermilion Lake this weekend produced some wonderful images this weekend. There was a break between clouds and mountain peaks farther east so the clouds above Mount Rundle and the lake were painted with this amazing light. One of the best mornings that I have had in the Banff National Park.
The hot springs that seep into the water along the chain of lakes allow for a few pools without ice to remain open through the winter. These pools pull many photographers to their shores and this morning was no exception. It’s always interesting how quiet these moments become even with five other photographers nearby. The better the light gets, the quieter it usually becomes. It was silent at the peak of this morning’s sunrise.
The sunset in West Bragg Creek was beautiful last night. The warm sunlight alternating with the long shadows striped the land and looked great in every direction. However it was the same light caught in the clouds above that stole the show.
The glow before sunrise caught bands of clouds above the forests in West Bragg Creek. With the temperature below -20°C, it was warming to see this early fire in the eastern sky. I enjoyed taking a break from following moose tracks for a few minutes to watch the morning arrive.
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The first sunrise of this visit to Kaua’i was spectacular. I watched the clouds retreat towards the horizon under the moonlight before dawn and when the day started to come, they were a heavy veil stretching up from the ocean. A few minutes after sunrise, the sun shone red through a thin spot in the clouds. For the next twenty minutes the sun broke free here and there while the waves kept crashing in and the sky steadily brightened. Nukoli’i Beach is a long stretch of sand along Kaua’i's eastern shore. At this time of the year, the sun rises directly off the beach. When the clouds cooperate, the mornings can be exceedingly beautiful. This morning was exactly that.
The winter morning was beautiful earlier this week. I watched the sky brighten and start to illuminate the sparse clouds scattered along the horizon and further off to the west. With the color running into the day, I saw a dragon stretch its wings out as it reached towards the rising sun. Surely a victim of my exuberant imagination, I was little surprised when I saw a phoenix flying low along the eastern horizon when I turned in that direction. Switching from one fantastic creature to the other during the short time that the best light of the day held, I enjoyed this sunrise tremendously. A childhood spent reading legends and myths revisited for a few minutes out on the cold prairie. A warm thank you to my elementary teacher, Alanda, who introduced our class to these stories and kindled the fire of my imagination.
Once the horses moved on, I returned to watching the brightening sky. I didn’t have to wait long for the colour to brush into the clouds.
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And when the warm sunlight came in, it only stayed for a couple of minutes. It was great to shoot a few different images while the light was really nice. The sun cleared the horizon quickly, the light cooled and the day began.
We stayed one night in the lodge on Emerald Lake in British Columbia so I was able to be on the water’s edge well ahead of sunrise the next morning. In the deep blues of the early morning, I could make out some heavy clouds in the sky so I was uncertain if a fiery sky was coming. The mountains that ring the eastern edge of the lake were streaked with thick fog rising off of the water and mixing with the clouds.
The sunlight was held up by a bank of grey so the drama never painted the sky however the details in the canoes, the bridge and along the shore as well as a slow shutter to drag out the sky and its reflection made for an enjoyable scene to work with.
I’m looking forward to getting back to this literal jewel of the Yoho National Park near the town of Field. A glowing sky of pinks, reds and oranges would be wonderful to see in this valley and reflected in the lake.
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Last night as the setting sun was painting the broken clouds above Lake Okanagan, the waxing moon was using them to hide as it rose. The colours in the evening sky were beautiful pastels and the bright lunar surface stood in sharp contrast.
This blue moon will be full on August 31st so these images are of the moon in its gibbous waxing phase.
I’ll be watching again tonight to see if our earth’s satellite has any more tricks planned.
The clouds make or break sunrises in many landscape scenes. On Sunday, they broke apart just before sunrise leaving a nice gauzy patchwork above the glow on the horizon. A good start to the day just west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada on May 27th.
Leaving the Calgary this afternoon, I drove through some heavy rain pouring down from some dark gray clouds rolling over Calgary. As I reached the western edge of the city along Highway 8, I was back in the sunshine and enjoyed the drive past the fields. Drawing closer to home, I looked back east and found a rainbow straddling the road. The arch was a mile wide and looked brilliant against the dark clouds still dragging the storm through the city. I pulled onto one of the gravel top range roads and composed this image of the scene.
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Winter has been mild here in southern Alberta this year. We had a short blast roll out of the mountains in the middle of the week with snow blanketing the city. That seemed like a last gasp as it lasted only one day and melted before the weekend arrived. It was an interesting run of weather that finished with a wind storm and warming that reached 15° C on Thursday.
These images are from my afternoon drive out of the city with the storm still attacking Calgary but open skies above me in Springbank west of the city.
For March, the prairies have very little snow. Makes for a bit different mid-winter landscape images than previous years.
My kids and I were up at dawn this morning and my daughter noticed a rainbow overhead as the sky brightened. Rainbows are not in short supply on the north side of Kauai and with last night’s rainstorms clearing it was inevitable one would appear somewhere. Really wonderful to have this one right in front of us to start the day.
The rainbow faded to just a faint outline for a few minutes and then came back just after my daughter said, “come back Mr. Rainbow I miss you”. A little child magic never hurt my photography – lucky me!