Landscapes

An icy sunset on the Elbow River

I walked down to the Elbow from my home this evening as the sun neared the western horizon.  Dusk brought some lovely color the clouds stretching eastward.  I found this sliver of open water and the interesting ice around it which anchored the scene nicely.


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.


Sunrise after the Geminids

Highway lights and morning sky – 20 seconds at f/11 on ISO 400

Having stayed out late to photograph the Geminid meteor shower, it was dawn much sooner than I expected.  I frequently (always) lose track of time when I have a camera in hand – this was no exception.  The last place I watched for the meteor streaks was near the Jumping Pound Road’s overpass of the Trans-Canada about 15km west of Calgary.

Mailbox sunrise – 30 seconds at f/11 on ISO 800

When I caught the first hint of dawn along the eastern horizon, which was preceded by an unplanned, but much-needed, cat nap, I made my way to the bridge.  The wind was howling as I set up.  I was glad it was blowing out of the mountains and across the Prairies.  If it had been in my face, I would have had a lovely collection of blurry images!  I had a few when a strong gust would come up but I was able to shield against most of them.

A view from the Jumping Pound overpass – 20 seconds at f/11 on ISO 200

As the sky lightened the clouds started to separate from the night sky.  I got excited as I saw the first hints of color catch in the edges and folds.  They were drifting into and out of beautiful shapes as Helios and his chariot approached the horizon. The image below, with Venus glowing through the pink tinged clouds, is probably my favorite from the shoot.

Venus above – 30 seconds at f/8 on ISO 400

In the longer exposures, the traffic below was rendered indistinct by the longer exposures but the trails carved out by their lights gave me strong, dynamic elements to work with.

Eastern fire – 1.8 seconds at f/22 on ISO 50

While the clouds were ablaze to the east just before sunrise, the west was a different scene altogether.  My last photograph of the morning was of the farm north of the bridge under a sky sketched in pastels.

Alpen glow and morning calm – 4.6 seconds at f/22 on ISO 400

 

 


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.


Winter at Elbow Falls – water, snow and ice

There is a beautiful balance of running water, ice forms along the river’s edge and drifts of snow at Elbow Falls right now.  Following an early start, photographing the waterfall before dawn, I stayed for a long time playing with these elements.  This is one of my favorite waterfalls and was happy to find a few new ways to photograph it on this visit.  A couple of American dippers kept me company and I eventually turned my attention to them as splashed around hunting for breakfast in the fast-moving water.  I look forward to sharing those images soon.


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.


A view from under the flyover

On my path towards the water for sunrise a couple of weeks ago, I passed under the 4th Avenue Flyover Bridge.  Curtis Van Charles Sorensen’s mural of the leaping foxes is a street art favorite of mine.  I liked how the curve of the bridge allowed me to connect it to the Calgary Tower.


A sunrise in the East Village

I stumbled upon the beginning of this sunrise as I was heading to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary last weekend.  Driving through downtown, the clouds in the sky looked interesting as dawn approached.  I parked in the East Village near the Bow River and grabbed my gear.

A long exposure, 6 seconds at f/16, made the dim glow to the east much brighter than it appeared to me then.  I saw this image on the back of my camera and raced to the water’s edge between the Reconciliation Bridge and the George C. King Bridge.

As the sun rose into the clouds, warm light filtered through the clouds spreading up from the horizon and across the sky.

A few minutes later, I framed a lone pedestrian crossing the bridge against this fiery backdrop.

The color faded to pastels just before the sun cleared the horizon.  A soft end to a beautiful daybreak in Calgary.


Looking west along the Trans-Canada Highway

A pretty view caught my eye as I crossed over the Trans-Canada Highway near the Springbank airport west of Calgary.  The early sunsets of late autumn like this are great to enjoy.


Here comes the sun…

As the eastern sky brightened yesterday morning, sunlight painted a line through a thin veil of clouds above the horizon.  With the sun heralding its imminent arrival, I was happy to wait and watch it rise.  A beautiful start to the day.


Early winter at the Upper Kananaskis Lake

A touch of winter froze blades of a partially submerged mound of grass and laid down several sheets of snow on the peaks ringing the lake before autumn returned. Photographed in Kananaskis Country’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada on October 7th.


Autumn sky in the morning

Winter retreated last week and the autumn skies have been beautiful since.  West of Calgary, near Springbank, the clouds glowed above the sun as it rose behind a farmstead earlier this week.


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.


Wintry autumn in Redwood Meadows

 

Following the heavy snowfall early in the week, I found a few different times to get out to photograph this interesting transition from autumn to winter.  The cold snap caught the trees off guard and the leaves have been falling steadily since.

 


An autumn walk in Kananaskis Country

Ahead of the winter storm which hit late Monday, I went to Kananaskis to enjoy autumn in the mountains.  The clouds were leaden, already suggesting snow when I watched them wrap around Mount Kidd in the fading darkness.

I waited for dawn on the low ridge above Wedge Pond.  The little lake looked beautiful but the brightening sky was much less so.  The clouds did diffuse the light which supported taking a few landscapes of the larch that ring one side.

I wanted to get a hike in so I packed up and headed off to the trailhead for the Galatea Lakes.  I grabbed my tripod, threw on my backpack and headed up.

The trail followed Galatea Creek as it wound up the valley towards the lakes.  I photographed steadily as I wandered along.  It came as no surprise that I hadn’t covered more than a couple of miles before I needed to return home.  It was nice to get lost really seeing and enjoying the forest, the splashing water and the mountains for a couple of hours.

I hope there is a reprieve from the falling snow, I would like to get back this month to see how the autumn landscape looks in winter trappings.

 

 


A sunrise in Springbank

The sun climbed over Springbank hill while I was heading into the city a couple of weeks ago.  I stopped at this stand of aspen with its blend of broken trunks, spidery branches and open canopy which I thought would provide an interesting frame for the sunrise.


An impression of autumn

When the snow was falling last week, I enjoyed trying to create some interesting images from the collision of weather with the fall landscape.  The photograph I shared earlier drew some very kind comments about the style of painting it was similar to.  I agree with Linda who saw suggestion of Pointillism.  Using a short exposure of 1/400th of a second froze the snowflakes in that photograph.  Here, I used a longer exposure of 1/40th of a second.  The slower shutter speed let the snow trace blurry paths through the scene.  I liked the level of abstraction that created.


A common loon swims in front of a low, rocky island on a calm, smoky morning on Upper Kananaskis Lake.  Haze from the wildfires to the west was thick in the mountains and often hid the mountains that ring the lake.

 


Sunrise moonset

At the end of July, on the 28th, the moon set very close to the same time as the sun rose.  That morning I went to a hill a bit east of Bragg Creek which had a great views of the sunrise to the east and the moon falling towards the Rockies above the western horizon.

Thick haze from the wildfires to the west softened the features of the land.  The sun, dimmed by the smoke, was saturated into striking shades of orange, yellow and red.

 


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.