(as always, please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
In March, I spent a weekend in Vancouver photographing birds, Granville Market and a few other things with a good friend. On one of the mornings we headed down to Stanley Park around 4:30 AM to see about sunrise. We walked to the seawall along the Burrard Inlet and worked for a while with the lights of North Van across the water.
As dawn came in, we moved slowly towards the Lion’s Gate Bridge and I had a lot of fun working with this dominant structure. I was very happy that they left the bridge lights on right through sunrise. I used to spend a lot of time exploring the park when I went to school in Vancouver but this was one of only a few times that I have photographed there. It is a beautiful place to spend time – with or without a camera.
With morning came the runners that pile on miles along the pathways year round. I enjoyed working them into a few photographs before packing up for breakfast.
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.
Dawn at the second Vermilion Lake was beautiful with some lovely colour in the sky around Mount Rundle early in the sunrise. As the sun climbed, I moved into the contrasts and this one worked well in black and white.
Lake Louise is a favourite place for my wife and I to visit in the Banff National Park. This weekend, with my parents taking care of the kids for a night, we went up and stayed on the lake’s eastern shore at the Chateau. The view across the ice up to the Victoria Glacier and the surrounding peaks was hidden by nightfall by the time we arrived so I was anxious for the morning to come. As it turned out, I may have slept right through sunrise, if Bobbi hadn’t looked outside just after 7 and woken me up. The black of night had given way to the dark shades of blue ahead of the dawn. I looked outside and then raced out of the door a few minutes later.
Winter at Lake Louise is magical. The Fairmont had an ice carving competition earlier this year and the sculptures fanned out between the hotel and the lake. At night, they are lit up as is the patriotic castle that is in the middle of the skating rink cleared out on the lake ice.
An ice castle is made every winter by the Chateau’s chefs from large blocks of ice. Nearby is a hockey rink and the trailhead for ski trails along the northern shoreline. Through the evening and again during the day, as it turned out, these drew many visitors who walked, skated and skied around. However at the time I went down to the lake, in the early but quickly brightening morning, there were only a few other people around.
Two people were playing around with hockey sticks and a puck while a couple of other photographers were roaming across the ice. And there was one gentleman out skating laps around the castle – I was glad he wore a red coat.
Once the sunlight hit the peaks, the dark sky disappeared and the cold, clear dawn of a beautiful morning took hold. It was wonderful to be out on the lake and I had a lot of fun working with the details in the castle and the spectacular landscape surrounding it.
When the sun was rising out of the forest east of the lake, the warm light on the ice blocks provided another opportunity to play a bit longer before I headed in for breakfast with my dear, and patient, wife.
The sky to the east was beautiful this morning. I had a chance to photograph from a good elevation which let me see the horizon towards the east and the downtown cityscape in the other direction. I loved the explosion of color in the clouds preceding the sunrise and those added nice reflections in some of the glass facades of Calgary’s prominent buildings.
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.
I went further up island to the north shore for sunrise this morning. I went to Kalihiwai Bay which lies between Kilauea and Hanalei and opens its arms to the Pacific due North. I went along the western side towards Anini Beach so that I would see the colors in the sky and the sun rising out of the east across the bay. It proved to be a very nice location to photograph daybreak from.
The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Ahead of the sun coming over the horizon, I got out into the water and used the silhouetted rocks to anchor the foreground. In this photograph, I made these rocks the main subject as I waited for the sun.
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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.
The horse that ended up posing for me before padding away led the small herd up the hill towards me. During one of their pauses on the way up I took the opportunity to frame them as part of the larger scene of dawn on the prairie. As I said before, I wish I had brought some horse-friendly snacks.
This morning I hiked up a hill for the sunrise. As the light started to brush the clouds stacked above the eastern flank of the Kananaskis mountains, a horse came up close to where I was set up. She nuzzled around for a bit but I didn’t have any carrots with me. Just after turning back towards her colt, she paused for a few seconds and I framed her against the bright horizon.
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The morning was cold as I walked down to Wedge Pond on Friday. No frost, but very chilly under the clear skies. I woke early so I was there before the skies had started to brighten. The only sounds were the splash of the occasional fish jumping and bull elk bugling challenges nearby in the forest. It was a special moment to take in. In the darkness the exposures ranged up to five minutes to show the pre-dawn scene as below. The slowly lightening sky to the east reflected on the upper flanks of the mountain.
As the sun approached, the birds started chattering and a few other photographers showed up for the alpen glow and then first light on Mount Kidd. Kananaskis lived up to expectations again. It was lovely to be on the lake’s shore for the morning with the autumn colours coming in.
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My family spent the weekend at Lake Louise and I got out to greet the sunrise on the top of the rock pile at Moraine Lake on Sunday morning. As the eastern sky began to brighten clouds were swirling along the Valley of the Ten Peaks and I was hopeful for a nice backstop to develop above the mountains and catch the colourful light. When dawn was breaking the clouds had mostly cleared out around the lake but to the east a different set had anchored on the horizon and I worried that by the time the sun climbed that little bit higher and the light could paint the Ten Peaks, the colour may have faded to normal daylight. I waited, along with a few other photographers strung along the top of the trail, and we were granted a very short window where a beam of red light shot through a whole in the eastern cloudbank and painted the rocky slopes. The beam lasted well short of a minute but the valley transcended its normal beauty by a long margin while it lasted. Above is one of the images from this moment. I took the photograph below after the red light faded as the clouds returned and glided above the valley. The last sunrise I caught there was in July and by the time the light fought through the clouds stacked in front of the sun it had no colour left so I have no complaints with this weekend’s weather.
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The Cowboy Trail runs through Bragg Creek and is lined with evergreen forest on either side of the town. On the weekend I was heading out to Wild Rose to see about some of the birds there. I left home as the morning colour was coming into the sky. I was not planning to shoot the sunrise but within a few minutes of driving down Highway 22X, the road’s less evocative other name, I pulled over and spent a few minutes watching the clouds soak in the warm light. It was an easy diversion and a great start to the day.
Moraine Lake is one of the Canadian Rockies most iconic landscapes. I have been there many times and it continues to share new magic with each visit. I was up on top of the rock pile with a couple of good friends for a quiet evening and we returned a few hours later for a cloudy sunrise. Both times presented views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the lake that I had not seen previously. I enjoyed them all immensely.
The evening watched as the clouds ran towards the horizon leaving open sky above the peaks that loom above the lake and curl west down the valley. The soft light near sunset looked beautiful where it touched the peaks and provided a very subtle contrast to the deepening blues and greens that ushered in the night.
When I was crossing the stream where the lake most visibly drains out, the bright colors in the landscape’s palette had been wrung out so I was drawn to the speck of orange upstream. I liked how this small information shelter’s log frame stood defiantly against the gloom. At this point, some great clouds had stretched out above the water and they provided an abstract mirror of the river’s folds as revealed in this 13 second exposure.
When we returned around 5am, the clouds had staked out all four corners of the sky. We watched breaks in the sky expectantly for more than an hour, taking us through sunrise without any light painting the peaks or the clouds curling around them. We were joined by a hopeful couple from Japan and two Chinese ladies on top of the moraine. Quiet chattering among the separate groups along with the occasional shutter click marking the time shuffling by. It was nice, not the dramatic alpen glow or early light that I have seen before but another interesting side of this valley.
Around 6:30 a large break in the clouds developed in the east and 15 minutes later the first shafts of sunlight hit the mountains. The light was still pretty warm and the drama I had been looking for unfolded for the next 45 minutes before the sun had risen too high for my landscape photography tastes. I enjoyed watching the color in the lake swirl and change as the house lights of the day came up. With stray clouds still wrapping peaks occasionally and the sunlight marching down the forest side of the lake, there was a lot to watch and to photograph.
Packing up, I retraced my steps down the path back towards the lodge. Crossing the river once more, I was drawn in again. This time the wet rocks were sparkling in the sunshine and I found the light on Yamnee (Mount Bowlen), Tonsa and Sapta (Mount Perren) particularly attractive. Breakfast was calling my friends (and me too – if I had been listening) and it was a good final image to complete this time with the lake, the valley and these wonderful peaks.
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.
During the lunar eclipse last December I was shooting off the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary with the moon to the west of me. As the moon came out of eclipse, I turned my attention to the east and photographed the sunrise over the Bow River looking east from downtown.
I wrote a short post on the eclipse the next day but then we left on vacation and I forgot about these images. Looking through Calgary sunrise photographs in my library, I rediscovered these and put them together here.
Yesterday, I went out for a morning photography tour along the Vermilion Lakes just outside of Banff. I enjoy returning to this area and usually am rewarded by the wildlife, the landscapes or something little thing that draws my eye. I settled into a favourite spot along the second Vermilion Lake where there are some hot springs that seep out of the mountainside, collect into a network of small streams and keep a few pools of water free of the snow-covered sheet of ice that hides the rest of the lake.
Mount Rundle stands directly between the lakes and the point where the sun rises at this time of the year so you need some broken clouds to be in the right place to catch the warm light.
I was able to enjoy three consecutive sunrises down on the eastern shore of Kaua’i in the last days of our trip in December. I went to a couple of different spots between Kealia and Kapa’a and each offered a different perspective of the coastline. Here are a few of the photographs I liked from these mornings on the water with the rising sun.
A defiant shelf of rock juts out into the surf while the sun drives through a set of breaking clouds. Before dawn, these clouds were knitted together and lashed the coast south of Kealia with a heavy rain. I was happy they had the good graces to separate and catch the early morning light.
A break between waves allow the water resting in these small tidal pools to reflect the color in the sky along the shore just north of Kapa’a.
Spray from the waves hitting the rocks was a challenge and demanded frequent spot cleanings. In this image above, I found the water spots on my lens were diffracting the sunlight in the middle of the image which added to the motion in the water and drew my eye up to the sun. I liked these rocks grouped just off shore and enjoyed trying to show the movement of the waves and sunlight in that time just after sunrise there.
The color lasts for only a couple of minutes this close to the equator as the sun seems to jump into the sky very quickly. This large cloud bank was in good position to catch the pink light as the sun pulled clear of a distant storm on the edge of the horizon.
The sun halo I could create here stole the show from the foreground rocks so I centered on it and eliminated any strong elements that would distract from this interesting optical illusion.
Last Saturday Bragg Creek had dark clouds racing across the sky at dawn. As the sun crept close to the horizon the first rays of light shot under the storms and illuminated the clouds creating wonderful hues of color. With the winter sun hanging lower in the sky now, this light stayed around long enough that I was able to photograph and enjoy the scene.
A little later the streaks gave way to a softer diffusion of color across the clouds.
It was -14°C on Sunday morning when I walked down the path to the shore of the first Vermilion Lake just west of Banff. The lakes are largely frozen over after several days of cold weather. A great benefit to birds, photographers and other wild creatures are the hot springs that bleed into the lake from different spots around the lakes. For photographers, the warm springs keep patches of water ice-free throughout the winter.
I have a couple of favourite locations across the three lakes including this one. Arguably it has the best view of Mount Rundle. On this morning, the warm water had cut a winding path out across the lake and I enjoyed playing with the composition of this element with the sky, the mountain and all of the reflections. When I arrived it was still dark but the sky was showing great promise. The clouds pushed up towards Rundle and parked there as the sun neared the horizon catching the warm light beautifully. A very nice place to photograph landscapes on a very nice morning.
Driving in the dark before dawn the fog was thick and slowed us down a bit. As the light came up we came to the edge of the fog, near the Sibbald Creek Trail underpass on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary. We were on a dirt back road and drove up a small hill to get some separation from the wall of fog blocking the horizon.
It was fun to work with the challenging light and minimalist elements in the landscape.