Night Photography

Mornings at Radium’s Sinclair Canyon

My family spent a few days in Radium at the end of March.  I had not been that way since last fall.  Driving through the Sinclair Canyon’s narrow opening into the Columbia Valley this time, the steep rock walls grabbed my attention.

I went there early on three of the four mornings to play with those solid forms.  Lights from passing traffic traced bright lines through the long exposures.

The last morning was the earliest I arrived – a little after 4am.  I had some ideas for images with star trails through the gap in the canyon.  The clouds were not supportive of those ideas.  I watched them knit together and block the night sky as I was setting up.  Those ideas will get another chance later this spring I think.


Downtown Calgary – Morning along the Bow River

On Saturday I watched the morning arrive on the shore of the Bow River.  I was across the water from Calgary’s downtown and used the Center Street Bridge as a focal point between the sky and the buildings.  I parked along Memorial Drive and checked the sky in a couple of test photographs.  Traffic came by and made for a good start.

On the other side of the road, the rocks, snow and ice along the river bank presented an interesting foreground.  It was a bit hectic teasing out compositions as the light was changing rapidly.  But that’s pretty fun chaos by any measure.

The eastern sky had bundles of pink cotton candy for a few minutes.  To the west the pink was a pastel that looked very pretty reflected in the Bow where it passed Prince’s Island Park.

Mallard ducks and Canada geese milled about flying up and down the river.  The cackling and quacking across the water along with the occasional group of vehicles passing behind me on Memorial Drive joined the river to perform the morning’s soundtrack.

 

 


Nightscapes from the past year

I’ve been wanting to put together a couple of posts with common themes using photographs which I have not published.  These aren’t the best of the year series, I’ll look to have those out soon though.  They are simply photographs that I would like to share.

So, I’ll start with a few images taken at night and see what follows after.  Thank you for indulging me in a bit of reverie!

I’m often out at night to chase the Northern Lights, watch the stars or waiting for dawn to come.  The moon always draws my attention when she’s up and I’m out.

Calgary’s downtown lights also have a definite charm.  Here I stood over the Elbow at River Park just before Christmas.

Seagulls fly over the Bow River during a blizzard in Calgary’s downtown.

A reflection pooled in the cobblestone of Montreal’s old port district caught my attention during a night spent in the grand city.

One of the very best nights was watching the fireworks on Canada Day with my son at Mont-Tremblant.


A faint light from the north

2 seconds at f/1.8 on ISO 4000

We are in the solar minimum and the Aurora Borealis displays at this latitude have been at a minimum as well.  On a night walk last night I noticed a bit of color in the sky.  Longer exposures showed a diffused haze of the Northern Lights.  Subtle but still beautiful.

5 seconds at f/2.0 on ISO 3200

The quiet show ended quickly.  It was very nice to see them once again.  As the aurora faded out I needed my headlamp to bring a bit of color to the last photograph.

2 seconds at f/1.8 on ISO 3200


Happy New Year!

I spent New Year’s Eve at home with my children and one of their close friends.  We all had fun and enjoyed the evening.  The Redwood Meadows community once more put on a fireworks show.

They always do a great job and this year was outstanding.  Kian found friends to watch and hang out with.  The other two enjoyed the show from the picture window of a neighbor’s home which provided a good, and warm, view.  It wasn’t frigid cold but it was -12ºC and the windchill made it feel like several degrees cooler again.

Some people watched with their kids from their vehicles, some people bundled up and were happy to stand outside.  No matter how people watched them, everyone seemed to enjoy the performance.  I certainly did.

I set up across the road from the field where the fireworks were set up.  I wanted to have the option to silhouette people against the explosions.  I used two cameras to have some options.  I set one up with a remote control and kept those all at  a 10 second shutter speed, lens at f/10 and an ISO of 800.  The other one I shot with directly during the show and played with the settings and the composition.

As we have just left 2018 here in Alberta, I wanted to wish you the very best in 2019.  Happy New Year!


Rural traffic lights

Vehicle lights stretch across the scene during a two second long exposure. I set up across the road from this farmstead and the sign. I took a few photographs of the passing traffic. I liked this one as I thought it had beautiful tone and good luck with the interesting light trails. A photograph an hour after sunset from west of Calgary near the Springbank Airport taken on December 15th.


Geminid Meteor Shower

Early Friday morning was the peak of Geminid meteor shower.  My camera braved the wind and the cold at the separate locations south of Cochrane near the Trans-Canada Highway.  Apart from setting up at each new spot and checking the gear occasionally, I stayed in my car wrapped up in a heavy blanket.  The shower lived up to expectations and I saw a lot of streaks across the sky.  A few of those were in the camera’s field of view.

I used 30 second exposures and then stacked each location’s set to create the star trails. I used the program StarStaX to stack the individual photographs (great program – fast, clean and free – donate if you try it and find that you like it).

To be honest, I was hoping for a few more big streaks across the scene so I’m looking forward to trying it again (next year!)  Two separate flights carved through the second scene that I photographed.  That looked cool though not what I was planning for.  The sunrise which followed was exceptional and I will share a few of those photos soon.


Ice fog nightscapes

 

During a cold night in November where ice fog spread low around the Springbank Airport west of Calgary, I photographed around the area for a couple of hours.  I started capturing light trails from traffic going through the intersection where the Springbank United Church stands.  Most of these exposures were close to 20 seconds to allow the vehicles to pull their lights through the scene.  Later I moved towards farm fields nearby and caught the moon as it rose out of clouds and shone over the mist.  The intensity of the nearly full moon allowed for shorter exposure times which suited me well – my hands were chilly by then and I was ready to pack it in soon after.


Elbow Falls – lit by YYC

I went to Elbow Falls yesterday and arrived well before sunrise.  As I stood above the waterfall, the glow from Calgary, ~50km to the east, mixed with the faintest hint of the approaching dawn to paint the clouds and to illuminate the river very gently.


Nightscapes in Kananaskis

A 25 second exposure and a fast lens (in this case, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 set at f/1.8) revealed wisps of clouds stretching east across the Kananaskis River valley a little after 4 in the morning on October 7th.  The soft green glow betrayed the Aurora Borealis pulsing low over the northern horizon.

Red light from my headlamp illuminated Highway 40 in this 10 second exposure that centered on the hazy Northern Lights.


Calgary – a view to the tower’s lights

 


The night lights on the Calgary Tower caught my eye a couple of weeks ago.  I found an interesting perspective after moving around a bit.


Springbank electrics

The thunder and lightning rolled over the prairies several times over the past couple of weeks.  On August 1st, I went out to photograph dusk as the smoke from the wildfires has helped create some beautiful evening scenes.  The haze thinned after sunset and a large cloud took shape from it as the sky cooled into night.

While the color slipped away, the cloud grew and I caught a flicker of lightning on the northern edge.  Rain didn’t fall and the wind never really picked up.  However a fork crackled through the air every few minutes for the next couple of hours.

The storm slowly churned east towards Calgary and the open prairie beyond.  The trailing edge left behind a clear sky dotted with stars.  This last photograph caught the moon illuminating the cloud as it rose.