The gods were bowling in the clouds late last night. The rolling thunder was preceded by steady sheets of lightning and a downpour that reminded me far more of a rainstorm in the tropics than one on the prairies. Once the rain died down, we walked to the banks of the Elbow River and watched as the storm moved eastward out of the low mountains around Bragg Creek. Forks of lightning peeled across the sky every couple of minutes for over an hour. It was a really beautiful summer storm to photograph.
The northern hemisphere’s Spring Equinox was welcomed by an incredible performance by the Northern Lights last night. Desirée and I went out early this morning and watched them dance along high in the sky for hours. It was one of the most beautiful displays that I have seen. It’s made for a slow start in daylight today but was wonderfully worthwhile!
Spaceweather.com has a great article today about auroras and equinoxes which I found really interesting. From their front page, “Around the beginning of spring and fall, cracks open in Earth’s magnetic field–a phenomenon called “the Russell-McPherron effect.” Solar wind pours in to fuel geomagnetic storms.” I didn’t know about that effect – very cool!
Desirée and I caught the sunset on the first day of the new year this evening. It turned out to be a beautiful end to the day. We watched the clouds play with the last light in the foothills on the eastern flank of the Rockies.
We had a bit of snow on the ground yesterday where I live near Bragg Creek, east of Calgary, Alberta. We have A LOT more today!
A snowstorm let fly yesterday evening and it is still falling this afternoon. It seemed like the snow was anxious to land as it fell aggressively all night. We woke up this morning with over 60 cm (2′) on our bedroom deck. Last night, the kids and I went out tobogganing soon after the snow started to fall. It was great fun and we stayed out until dark. Walking back, the nightscape with snowflakes illuminated by the street lights, Christmas lights and silhouettes of the trees along the road caught my eye. I grabbed my tripod along with a remote trigger and photographed for a little while. I could almost watch the blanket of snow rise as I shot. A few vehicles passed by, tracing their lights across some of the long exposures. The muffling of sound from the heavy storm stilled the night leaving only the sound of the snowflakes landing on the ground. One of the prettiest winter nights that I’ve been out in.
Desirée was in town while we played around and called soon after I returned home. Her drive back was a scary one as the same pretty storm was a whiteout on the road and saw more than a couple of dangerous drivers racing around to make it more stressful than was necessary. Once she returned, we all relaxed and were able to resume our wonder at this crazy tempest. A late night soak in the hot tub allowed us to be in the middle of it and stay warm.
Desiree and I went out to photograph the Neowise comet on consecutive nights in late July before its nightly tour over the northern hemisphere ended. It was amazing to see the comet so bright. With longer exposures, the tail flared out behind in a way that I haven’t photographed before. That was beautiful and I’m glad we were out there and could share that together.
The comet was difficult to see with the naked eye. With the camera, and a 6 second exposure, it stood out even against the sparkling sky.
January 1st has been a good, and wonderfully relaxed, start to 2020 for us. The fireworks at the Redwood Meadows community sports field last night did a great job of ushering in the new year. All the best to you and yours in this new year.
The fireworks were great. Thank you to the people involved in the evening’s light show.
It has come too soon but I am enjoying the beautiful colors that fall has brought. Snow is falling this weekend so autumn may be cut short this year – we’ll see.
I’ve had fun playing with longer shutter speeds and moving through the focal length during some of those. Some of the images have an abstract, painterly quality which I love. I still like photographing the changing landscape in more straightforward ways too. Most scenes I end up shooting in a few different ways to see which works in that moment. Here are a few from the past couple of weeks in and around Bragg Creek.
On a side note, it has been a long time since my last post. I have kept shooting but haven’t made time to publish anything for a little over two months. A lot went on through the summer. The biggest change has been falling in love with a wonderful woman. Aside from my children and how they continually amaze me, that has been the highlight of a summer that has absolutely flown by.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.