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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
I found a quiet field several miles away and the timing worked out as the spikes in the Aurora had just started to appear.
The Northern Lights were still glowing as dawn started to push into the sky and before 4 AM I was transitioning into sunrise landscapes.
Nanton is a small town along the Trans-Canada Highway close to an hour south of Calgary. I stayed out overnight on the prairies just east of town for some solo photographing. A storm was fading at sunset but not enough to let any color show through the clouds so I did not make any interesting images before nightfall. In the middle of the night, the Aurora Borealis came out in subtle fashion and that got me out shooting from then through sunrise. I will share some of the Northern Lights images soon but wanted to first share some of the photographs from before dawn.
I love the skies on the prairies and this morning’s canvas was beautiful. I traveled along the gravel roads and found a couple of nice locations. The layers of clouds caught different colours through the morning and I had fun composing those against silhouettes from the land.
During the chinook of the last few days there were several beautiful sunsets that I took time to enjoy. Looking west at the Rockies is one of my favourite skylines and their silhouette at dusk often adds immensely to a landscape photograph.
The chinook ended last night with the arrival of a snowstorm which continues this morning. I’m not too dismayed, it was nice to have a break of warm weather in the middle of winter.
During our stay in Los Cabos last month, each day started with beautiful mornings as the sun rose out of the Sea of Cortez. This stretch of coastline between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas has great rock outcrops wrapped with honey coloured sand. This cove was a few minutes walk from our patio and was a fun place to play and hunt for seashells with the kids during the day. Before dawn, I had it all to my self and it was magic.
This strange cloud and a few stragglers lit up brilliantly ahead of the rising sun. I was driving east towards Calgary and stopped for a few minutes to watch what looked more like a stack of cotton candy than a regular cloud. Mind you, whenever I think a cloud is just a normal one, watching it morph unpredictably as it crosses the sky reminds they are magical creations.
This meadow in the Bow Valley often provides a reflection of the current of the weather affecting much of the park. On this day in early November, the remnants of a storm was thrashing around in the mountains while more promising blue sky opened up above.
Earlier in the morning, the clouds hung low over the Vermilion Lakes hiding all but the lowest slopes of Sulphur Mountain across the water. Later in the day when I returned along the Trans Canada Highway the clouds were truly broken up and it proved to be a very nice autumn afternoon in the Banff National Park.
With the cold snap of the past week, I found myself thinking about warmer climes. Hawai’i is usually at the top of the list for me and I pulled this 2012 image out of my library as a nice reminder of one of our favourite places in Kaua’i. This photo is from the top of the Koke’e State Park near the Kalalau Valley overlook. The tree is silhouetted against the clouds rising up from the coast far below this mountain ridge just before sunset.
I hope everyone who is out and about this evening has a fun, and appropriately scary, time.
This scene was waiting for me as a drove along the prairies towards Calgary this morning.
The autumn weather in the foothills west of Calgary is unpredictable with snow, sun, wind and rain all possible on any given day. The clouds conjured up at this time of the year can be fantastic and I’m rarely disappointed when I get up early to see how they will frame the sunrise. On this morning in the middle of October, it was a beautiful dawn to watch build towards the day from the low-rise of the Fawn Hills a short distance west of Bragg Creek. There was a beautiful sheet spread over the sky with corner left untucked on the eastern horizon allowing the dawn light to come under and skip along its underside. A couple of lone clouds flying low provided beautiful points of interest.