As the moon waxed towards full this weekend, I spent an evening at Elbow Falls to photograph the landscape at night. The clear air allowed stars to shine even with a relatively short exposure and small aperture (10 seconds and f/8.0, respectively). Always a bit lonely sitting out there for a couple of hours but the stars are really good company.
The 6400 ISO and the bright moonlight allowed for some of the great details at this magical place in Kananaskis Country to show in the image. I am impressed with the improvements in the dSLR’s low-light capabilities over the last couple of years. A couple of years ago I spent another evening up at these falls. At that time I was using a Canon 1D Mark III and when compared with the image above and others where I used a 5D Mark III, the detail, structure of the noise and the color are all vastly improved. The technology is less and less of an obstacle to realizing the images I want to make. I like that a lot.
We stayed at Lake Louise a couple of weeks ago and I set up to take some photographs from my room of the ice sculptures lit up around the front lawn of the Chateau. It was then I noticed the stars and how wonderfully bright they were. With the reflection of lights from below there was a lot of distortion, refraction and general murk to wrestle with. The hazy arcs above the mountain are one of the interesting effects from the lamps around the pathways. I worked away for a little while and liked this somewhat abstract image of Mount Whyte under the night sky.
We had a great weekend which included visiting my family in the Crowsnest Pass, spending the best part of the evening light with a bald eagle out in the Foothills and a hike with my wife and children around Fenland Trail in Banff.
Many photographs to work through, a magazine article to write, two workshops to plan and market – much to do but, when I came across this image during a licensing request, it got me to put down the keyboard and go outside and look at the stars for a while.
I made this while I was taking long exposures up at the Elbow Falls in Kananaskis. Towards the end of my night in the mountains, I pointed the lens up at the stars and then zoomed through the range for a few seconds to generate some warp speed lines.
More posts on the Tonquin, Moraine Lake, a cliff jumper I met and the eagle soon.
I went up to Elbow Falls to see if the aurora borealis wanted to come out and play. Recently I have been dreaming of images of the falls with the northern lights reflecting off of the water and casting an unusual glow on the land. So, I sat on a snow-covered boulder for a couple of hours after sunset waiting. The ionosphere was quiet while I was there and I didn’t see any trace of the lights (I checked AuroraMax the next day for the night’s activity and things picked up around 11:30, an hour after I left my perch above the river). However, the sky fading into night was beautiful to watch and when the stars emerged from the thin haze above the valley they were brilliant. Here, Betelgeuse is the orange star above the three stars that form Orion’s Belt and the large star above the ridge is Canis Major.
With time on my hands waiting, I kept busy photographing the river from a couple of spots and shooting the sky. Two great subjects to work with. In the image above, a high ISO and wide aperture setting allowed for a relatively short exposure in the darkness which kept the stars from tracing their march across the sky while allowing the water and clouds to stretch and blur. The grain in the image doesn’t work for some people but I like it here and I chose to leave most of it in during the processing.
Turning my back to the falls, I was facing east out of the mountains towards Calgary. The urban glow was faint to the human eye but I tried a long exposure and was struck by the colors and textures captured by the haze and wispy clouds. I played around with settings trying to get as many of the stars as possible to be visible as they created a great pattern amid the colorful sky.
So, I’ll be back up at Elbow Falls again to watch for the northern lights soon. The peak of the sun’s current active phase if forecasted to be in 2013 so there should be great opportunities to realize at least a few of the visuals rolling around in my head.