After an incredible Northern Lights display in the early hours of March 20th, I drove west of Cochrane to watch the morning arrive. Ice still covers the lake though large cracks and variety in the surface color and texture indicate spring is loosening the frozen grip.
I arrived in darkness with a dim glow on on the eastern horizon. The glow brightened steadily and soon I was watching the fiery clouds catching the earliest light and waiting for the sun to jump into the sky.
The long night fled as the sun rose and I used the time to think about the cycles of the seasons, life and family. Good thoughts, I believe, for the Spring Equinox.
Desirée and I met up with the leading edge of a storm rolling out of the mountains on an early morning drive through Priddis just before Christmas. The leading edge of the cloud raced eastward towards the eastern sky as dawn approached. Snow and wind came shortly after this photo and the view through this dip in the hills disappeared.
West of the hamlet, Desirée and I watched the sunrise over the frozen prairie. Despite the slightly wicked cold, the beauty of the snowy fields, black tree silhouettes and the deep hues in the sky was overwhelming. The lens was in my trunk so when I put it on, it frosted up. That was partially by design and partially due to a lack of planning earlier in the morning. I loved the haze around the frame that resulted and had a lot of fun shooting with that for a bit.
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
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.
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.
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.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Springbank, just west of Calgary, and made a few long exposure photographs from the overpass that leads to Calaway Park to the south and the Springbank Airport to the north. The TransCanada Highway runs west from Calgary, under this bridge and a few more, before heading into the Rocky Mountains. As night faded, the line of the mountains in their snowy blankets stood out.
To the east the sun painted the scattered clouds before it rose above the eastern horizon. The color from the headlights, tail lights and reflections in the shiny pavement patches balanced the sky in a way I liked.
Shortly before the sun rose, the landscape and clouds to the west were illuminated with soft, even light which helped the light trails to really glow.
I enjoyed another sunrise on the prairies east of High River this weekend. This time around, I used a couple of farms and their buildings to break up the line of the horizon. The layers of cloud across the sky caught the sunlight presenting a range of pastels as the morning moved through dawn.
I stepped infront of the camera when I had the tripod facing the beautiful display of pink hues in the clouds to the north. As the sun rose it went behind a thick band of cloud so I looked down a couple of snow-covered range roads towards the Rocky Mountains before the warm light cooled and disappeared.
This small shack is leaning to one side and I suspect it will fall down in a year or two. It served me well as a solitary anchor under the growing dawn on a frigid morning last weekend near Mossleigh. I love the isolation and the constantly changing skies on the prairies in the winter.
I caught a sunrise on the prairies east of Mossleigh on the weekend. Fog had rolled over a large swath of southern Alberta so the morning was spent watching skirmishes between the rising sun burning off the clouds and the walls of fog. Here the early pink light had painted the clouds but not yet reached the fields nor broken through the opaque wall behind this tree.
When I arrived at the second Vermilion Lake and scrambled down to the shoreline I was alone and in darkness. Once I turned off my headlamp my eyes adjusted and a thin line brightening to the east. Mount Rundle stood resolutely across the water and I started to make out clouds as they slid toward the horizon.
The image above was a 25 second exposure on f/10 and ISO 800 taken at 7:25 AM. I used that to get a feel for how the scene looked as it was still too dark to make out much of the details and color in the sky with my eyes alone.
I didn’t mind the grass but I chose to focus on the sky and its reflection so a few steps to the right and setting up closer to the waterline was the next step. The clouds in the image above made a great frame around Rundle and the pre-sunrise colors intensified considerably by the time that I made this photograph at 7:35 AM.
The pre-dawn light’s color faded out before 8 AM. The lull before the fire came into the sky did not last long and I soon caught the first hints of pink catching in the clouds. The photograph of Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain above was taken at 8:10 using a 2 second exposure on f/16 at ISO 50. The light soon caught the clouds hanging low above the mountains in the image below (8:13 AM; 0.8 seconds; f/16; ISO 50). From there the reds and oranges started to splash across the sky above the Bow Valley.
By 8:16, the pinks had been driven off completely. Now the trick was to hold the really bright circle of sky left of Mount Rundle (in the centre of the image below – 0.6 seconds; f/16; ISO 50)). I was exposing off of that circle so that the highlights weren’t completely blown knowing that the RAW file captured by my camera would hold detail in the shadows elsewhere which I could recover in post.
I played with the focal length of several images during the exposure. This created streaks in the photograph which served as interesting leading lines into the sunrise and Mount Rundle. I shared my favourite one of these on the weekend (here) and below is another that I really liked as well. This one has more brightness in the foreground so it has a different feel for me (8:20; 0.5 seconds; f/16; ISO 50).
By 8:20, the fire was waning and only golds and oranges outlined the silhouette of the mountains. The photograph below being one of the last from my shoot (8:22; 0.3 seconds; f/16; ISO 50).
I jumped into a last frame just before the sun came over Rundle’s flank. I had wanted to catch a sunstar as it crested the mountain but the clouds got in the middle as can happen. That exposure was taken at 8:50 AM with a 4 second exposure (f/16 and ISO 100) using a heavy neutral density filter to get the extended shutter speed. A beautiful morning in one of those places I love returning to again and again. It’s rare that it doesn’t share a new look, or a few of them, with me each time.