Landscapes

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.