A Subtle Aurora
At the end of May Desirée, Karen and I chased the Northern Lights late into the night. It was cloudy in Bragg Creek so we headed west looking for open sky and active auroras.
It was not a powerful geomagnetic storm but cast some beautiful pastels in sky and onto the clouds. I’m never disappointed whenever I get to watch to watch them dance.
Water Valley dawn
On a trip to Water Valley a couple of weeks ago, I raced to find something interesting for the sun to silhouette as it rose above the prairies. These trees, still weeks away from any leaves emerging fit the bill very nicely. It was one of the prettiest mornings I’ve enjoyed in quite a while.
My favourite version was the wider view with the deep blue of the sky above in it. However, the tighter shot with the sun just above the trees and a color palette of gold, copper and bronze was a close second.
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.
Happy New Year!
Welcome to 2021. Here’s to a happy and healthy year for you and yours. There is so much that will be nice to leave behind in 2020 around the world. I hope to remember the silver linings and the special moments from a long year and let the tougher ones fade sooner than later.
A Water Valley trio
These horses were walking slowly alongside one of Water Valley’s backroads. We pulled over and I took a few minutes to compose them and a couple of cows in a few different ways. This was my favorite. The animals were languid on a nice afternoon in the Foothills. This field was beautiful to my eye with green and pale gold sharing space across the uneven ground. I used a small aperture of f/22 to keep the three horses each in sharp focus while separating them from the forest in the background. Beautiful country there. I’ve enjoyed wonderful encounters with great gray owls there. It was nice to enjoy another aspect.
I liked it in black and white too!
A second night with the Aurora Borealis
Only three days after I was able to watch a great showing by the Northern Lights, they came out to dance over the foothills again. The clouds were heavier this time around and grew steadily through the night while I was out. That set up for some backlighting by the aurora that looked really beautiful. This time around, I started at the same small pond as before but then drive to a couple of different spots along Highway 1 before ending my night at the small lake beside the Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68) where it meets Township Road 252.
At first I was trying to get away from the cloud bank as it coalesced and then moved southwards and increasingly obscured my view of the night sky. Soon I became a little hypnotized by the glow around and through the clouds so I settled down and enjoyed the moment.
After 2am, the clouds broke up and seemed to return back to the north. I was too tired to see how far they retreated and made my way home just before 3.
My first night with the Northern Lights this fall
September closed out with several strong Northern Lights displays that reached down to southern Alberta. I was happy to make it out to the Foothills to photograph in the middle of the night for two of them. These images are from the first foray which started around 11:30pm and continued rippling when I finally headed home around 2am on the 26th.
The clouds seemed to move in slow motion and picked up the glow from Cochrane differently as the night progressed. Above, the aurora’s color palette shifted into pastels. A few of the later images reminded me of cotton candy and were fantastic to watch slowly ripple then fade away. I imagined these were tie-dyed waves rolling in both over the pond but also the sky they were reflecting.
Ursa Major and its Big Dipper were constant companions in the sky behind the dancing lights. The stars would run in and out of the clouds, hiding at times and burning brightly at other times. There was good magic to watch throughout.
Late afternoon along the Livingstone Range
Driving along Highway 22 after a day with the eagles, I was traveling parallel to the Livingstone Range of the Canadian Rockies. The foothills lead up to it in a couple of rounded hills and then the mountains jut up sharply from there. It was an impressive scene with the sharp contrast between hills and mountains as well as light and shadow of the late afternoon.
Abandoned in the foothills
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/320 of a second at f/1.6 on ISO 50
I love driving along backroads through the farmlands on the prairies and in the foothills of Alberta. The landscape is beautiful, wildlife (when they allow you to see them) abounds and I often have the roads to myself. On these tours, I keep an eye out for interesting farm vehicles and buildings. There are many unusual items designed for a specific agricultural purpose that can be very photogenic. As purposes move forward alongside changes in technology, some of these barns, tractors and other things fall out of use and weather. This tractor is a beautiful example of the worn down equipment that dot the landscape. This old Massey Ferguson seemed to be parked in an idyllic spot to enjoy a hard-earned rest after a long run of service. That’s a rather romantic notion and I could drive by there next week and find it out turning soil in one of the fields on the far side of the pond. Whatever the truth, it was a great subject to photograph on a summer day north of Cochrane.
Sunrise in the Foothills
Once the horses moved on, I returned to watching the brightening sky. I didn’t have to wait long for the colour to brush into the clouds.
(please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
And when the warm sunlight came in, it only stayed for a couple of minutes. It was great to shoot a few different images while the light was really nice. The sun cleared the horizon quickly, the light cooled and the day began.
Evening in the Foothills
The light this evening was lovely and the lines of the hillsides of the Foothills towards Kananaskis Country looked like a water-colour painting.
A Weathered Truck on the Prairie
I was exploring the country roads that divide up the fields along the prairie west of Calgary and found this old Ford 350 farm truck long since abandoned overlooking a river valley. The truck looked like it had been left where it finally broke down, just past a cattle guard on a dirt track that led down to an old farmstead.
With the deep blue sky of the early morning, the weathered reds and oranges of the cab and the hood made a nice contrast. I liked working in the white line on the horizon where the Rocky Mountains are still covered with snow. I will be back to this lonely Ford again soon to work in some star trails and light painting. When the new green grass comes in, I’ll return to work with the three strong colors (two primaries – red and blue, and one secondary – green) as they will allow for some dynamic compositions by varying the amount of each color in a frame. A great subject to find and I suppose it will be returning to work after having had at least a few years rest.
In the image below, I de-saturated the sky to emphasize the color in the truck (both the body and the rust on the bed’s frame. It creates an interesting feel to this image as the relationship between the truck and the surrounding environment is different.
In this final picture from this set, I walked down towards the valley so that the sun’s position relative to the truck changed from behind and streaming over my shoulder to behind the truck backlighting the truck and throwing a lot of reflected light towards the camera. The washed out color that resulted allowed for an image very different from the others.