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.
I have to admit to missing the ocean badly right now. The pandemic has interrupted a couple of trips to the coast but a stroll through my image library helped. I landed on some images from a morning two Aprils ago where I was on the narrow strip of land where the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds borders against a US Coast Guard Air Station.
The sun rose just after 6 am. I was on the shore by 5 and enjoyed watching twilight brighten the night sky. The hour seemed to glide quickly past – as is often the case when I’m out photographing landscapes. Not before I had managed a few different scenes of the blue hour on this interesting spot along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
When the sun was up, I did a little beach combing. Walking through the wash of the tide, I found a few interesting miniature scenes. This one was a favorite of mine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In August I photographed through the night along the Vermilion Lakes. The air was heavy with smoke from nearby wildfires. This long exposure caught the glow from the town of Banff as it pushed through thick haze and got caught in clouds hanging low in the Bow Valley. A timer and a flashlight allowed me to run out onto this dock on the third Vermilion Lake and trace out the circle in this image.
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.
A few photographs of downtown Calgary from the north side of the Centre Street Bridge last week during the latest cold snap.
On this last photograph, I entered the frame with the help of a timer in order to provide a contrasting element in the foreground.
Watching the last light of the day slip away to the west from one of the piers on the Vermilion Lakes. I was reminded of this night scene from August when I was waiting for dawn near the same place last weekend.
This image is from 2011 and was taken along the Elbow River. Kezia was 2 1/2 years old and running with Kian who was 4 1/2. I used a shutter speed of 1/6th of a second for a relatively long shutter and panned with the kids as they raced by. I love playing with motion and creating, or capturing, movement in these types of images. The blurred lines that layer to create the scene remind me of an Impressionist painting.
Late night light trails as vehicles move along Bow Trail. The red tail lights streak towards downtown while the lights on the left climb out of the city centre. Every few minutes the LRT, Calgary’s public transit commuter trains, slid along the tracks dividing the westbound and eastbound lanes of the roadway.
I walked to the Bow Trail Bridge near midnight in early January. I often pass under this bridge and believed it would afford a good view of both the city’s skyline and the traffic passing under it. The bridge itself has great curved lines and I shot it for a few minutes before photographing the cityscape.
From the bridge deck, the view matched my expectation and it was fun composing for long exposures meshed with the skyline. I’ll end with a slightly wider view of the scene. I’m looking forward to a return on a starry night… or maybe during an exceptionally bright Aurora Borealis display.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a night under the stars on the shore of Lake Minnewanka. On the way there, as I passed through Canmore, the full moon was lighting up the mountains that connect the town with the sky. Here the tip of Ha Ling and the East End of Rundle (EEOR) were lit up during the long exposure I made looking across the Trans-Canada Highway and over the town.
The architecture on and around Museum Island is impressive to say the very least. I spent a couple of nights photographing the buildings along the banks of the River Spree and the canals nearby. The lighting on many of the buildings at night adds to the majestic feel which seems appropriate given the enormous efforts to restore them since Germany’s reunification. Above is the Altes Museum and below is Berliner Dom which shares the Lustgarten and its central fountain.
Further down the river, I caught the moon rising across the river from the Berliner Dom. I loved the reflection of the lights in the water.
A long exposure as a night cruise passed by this outdoor party blurred the lights on the water – and a couple of people along the boardwalk.
I finished the late night walkabout with a stroll back to the Brandenburg Tor to photograph the eastern side with the absence of the masses that visit during the day and evening. Afterwards, I crossed to the western side and photographed light trails under the gate.
The Brandenburg Gate is a beautiful monument that has been at the centre of pivotal moments in history since its construction completed in 1791. The Tor was commissioned by King Friedrich William II as a sign of peace; Napoleon marched through it in triumph; it was closed to all through the cold war, dividing Berlin – and the world, and divided Berlin and the world; and then it was where the wall first fell and was where the city and Germany reunified. Coming full circle, it has now come to represent peace as well as unity in the country and in Europe.
I was excited to photograph this icon and visited there several times through my week in Berlin. One visit was after midnight and I set up on the west side of the where three streets meet. I wanted to create some long exposures to let the lights from the vehicles create streaks in front of the gate. It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images.
When night fell, I had been hanging around the Spree River near Berliner Dom so it was not a very long walk to the Tor. Coming from the east, I photographed the front of the gate first. The Quadriga of Victory looks like it about to leap off the top and carry forward.
It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images. With recent events within Germany and other parts of Europe, a visit seemed timely and it would serve many well to consider what the Brandenburg Gate has come to represent from many years of hard learned lessons about peace and unity.
I have driven by the Burmis Tree, an Alberta icon, many times while traveling through the Crowsnest Pass on my between British Columbia and Alberta. It stands out on a rocky outcrop just above Highway 3 where the road bends into the valley below Turtle Mountain. This limber pine catches many people’s eye as they travel past with its gorgeous lines and skeletal beauty. This weekend I drove past close to midnight and stopped for an hour to photograph the tree. This image is from the western side of the hill facing east. The limbs were backlit by the headlights of the oncoming traffic and the hill glowed red from their tail lights as they passed by.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/16 on ISO 200
I drove along the Grand Valley Road in search of raptors and was fortunate to come across a small group of fellow photographers who had spied a Northern hawk owl in a roadside stand of trees. I will share a couple of photographs of that fine bird soon but wanted to first show the abstract images I made earlier in the day. Before finding any wildlife, I was spending time looking for them among the trees and meadows along the road. Early on, I found this stand of Aspens and I loved the vertical pattern and the stark contrast between dark and light within and between the tree trunks.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/500th of a second at f/9 on ISO 1250
I loved the straight image and once I dialled that in the way I liked, I wanted to drag my shutter and play with the blurred images that I traced out.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/30th of a second at f/16 on ISO 200
Canon 5DIII with a 24mm f/1.4 lens: 13 seconds on f/11 at ISO 100
Vehicle lights trace lines along Crowchild Trail on a winter’s night in Calgary.
The Leaping Tiger Gorge is a deep canyon created by the Jinsha River whose headwaters are in the Tibetan Plateau is the upper course of the Yangtze River. The water volume is immense and with the amount of ground carved away always runs a earthy colour. The color is repeated with some of the ripples in the rock exposed between the water and the edge of the forest which traces a ragged line above the river.
There is a visitor site that is interesting and allows you to descend several hundred feet down to the river level. The legend holds that a tiger was once seen leaping across the gorge. At a minimum distance of 82′ (25m) that would have been amazing to watch. Being able to feel the spray off of the rapids and hear the roar of the water up close was beautiful. I think I will remember my time in the gorge for a very long time.
Vicki Alford made the excellent suggestion to include some imagery to show the river’s power. I have included an image with a faster shutter speed taken from a viewing deck roughly halfway down the canyon.
After a great evening with another family who came over for dinner, we enjoyed having some time playing around before bed. Kian and Kezia had a bunch of glow sticks that they connected together and swung around in the dark. We had a lot of fun tracing out crazy patterns during a series of long exposures.
My son and I spent a couple of hours down on the beach watching the stars and playing around with some longer exposures. It was a beautiful night made infinitely better with him there.