The thunder and lightning rolled over the prairies several times over the past couple of weeks. On August 1st, I went out to photograph dusk as the smoke from the wildfires has helped create some beautiful evening scenes. The haze thinned after sunset and a large cloud took shape from it as the sky cooled into night.
While the color slipped away, the cloud grew and I caught a flicker of lightning on the northern edge. Rain didn’t fall and the wind never really picked up. However a fork crackled through the air every few minutes for the next couple of hours.
The storm slowly churned east towards Calgary and the open prairie beyond. The trailing edge left behind a clear sky dotted with stars. This last photograph caught the moon illuminating the cloud as it rose.
Following the enjoyment of watching the fiery, hazy spell cast by la Joute fountain in front of the Palais des congrès, I continued on to the old port. This area is the historical heart of Montréal and one I had not spent time exploring before. Restaurants and cafes were winding down for the night as I walked past and people were making their way home. That left the cobblestone streets, lined with some of the oldest buildings in Canada, to me and the occasional group of merrymakers and travelers. I played with some long exposures, stepping into a few of those frames, and some motion blurs (images of the Ferris wheel on the waterfront from that night can be seen here). I ended up getting pretty tired towards the early morning so that impacted the photographing a bit but I’m glad I had time to have a look around. I’m excited to get back there again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully with more time and during daylight too!
Recently I was in Montréal and my first destination was the Palais des congrès. A stroll down Avenue Viger led me to this convention centre and the beautiful façade of colorful glass windows that drew me there. I crossed the street to frame the windows behind the fountain in the park there. La Joute is the name of the sculpture fountain and it breathes fire! I didn’t know that when I arrived though. Standing at the edge of the fountain’s pool, I overheard a boy ask his brother when the fire would start so I decided to wait and see what would come next.
A few minutes later, a thick haze started to roll over the water and soon covered the pool and rose up towards the bronze sculptures of animal and human figures. The presentation was impressive and had a gentle flow as it moved from water into fog.
A few people had gathered and were enthralled, as I was, when the first flickers of flame began to appear around the central statue. These flames connected into a complete ring of fire and rose a foot or two off of the water.
The backdrop of the Palais made for a lovely atmosphere and a great scene to photograph throughout the sequence.
I had an extended layover in Montréal a couple of weeks ago and spent the night photographing in the old port area. The ferris wheel on the harbour front opened last year and is eye-catching addition to the city’s skyline. I wandered down to the waterfront close to 11 with a warm rain starting to fall which found me thinking about puddles and reflections.
The wheel closed at 11 so I was lucky to arrive in time to watch a couple of the different colors they project onto it while it is open. Afterwards it is lit in simple white but I liked photographing that too. I will share some photos from around the old part of the harbour but for this one, it’s all about La Grande roue de Montréal. There may have been controversy behind this installation and I am a sucker for Ferris wheels but I think it works as part of the waterfront.
This last one was taken quite a bit later in the night. I went into the frame to fill the narrow slot with my silhouette. I didn’t intend for that to add a slightly foreboding tone to the image.
I was very excited to get out to photograph the most recent lunar eclipse. I kept an eye on the weather forecasts and knew clouds were moving over southern Alberta that night. I hoped for a break in the clouds but when I woke up early that morning the sky was low and heavy with no stars, or moon, to be seen. So, I packed up and headed west to see if I could get the western edge of the cloud front. My first glimpse was between Canmore and Banff when I came around a corner and the moon was hanging in the sky. That was not a safe place to stop and the moon alone in the blackness was not the image I had in mind so I kept going to Banff. Thought I still did take that shot a little while later!
Clouds returned by the time I was in the townsite so I headed up towards the hot springs to see if I could find a good vantage point. That didn’t pan out but when I came back down, the moon re-appeared. Now it was falling quickly towards the western flank of Cascade Mountain. Her and I then played a game of hide and seek as the clouds continued to drift in front of the red globe.
I framed the moon using trees and the mountain’s ridge line when the opportunities came. Within a few minutes it disappeared. I didn’t realize the image I was looking for but had a great time watching the spectacle. I have been able to photograph several lunar eclipses and always deeply enjoy the otherworldly beauty as the moon slips into and eventually out of the sun’s shadow.
I hope you are enjoying time doing what you love with those you enjoy spending time with. I have been able to do both with family and friends this holiday. For Boxing Day I created some time alone and went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis. It is a beautiful location, particularly when blanketed in ice and snow. The afternoon held broken clouds but the skies cleared as sunset faded. The half-moon emerged from the veil and shone incredibly bright in the night sky. The moonlight washed over the rapids above the waterfall while stars began to take their place above. I deeply enjoyed being in this scene.
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.
I hope you have a lot of good moments doing what you love with those who mean the most to you in this new year. My own goal is to make those happen whenever I can for myself and those people important to me. We had a fun night doing crafts, playing games and taking in the Redwood Meadows fireworks.
We walked up to the Redwood Meadows sports field for the display where neighbours had gathered for skating and a bonfire earlier. The snow was falling hard and that seemed to suit everyone just fine. It was a great vibe to welcome 2017 with.
The fireworks were beautiful. I haven’t seen them during a snowstorm before and that was cool. The explosions were cheered by the crowd so it was an unqualified success. And definitely a good start to the year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!
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.
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.
On the weekend the Aurora Borealis leaped to life on both Saturday and Sunday night. I was too tired to head out on Sunday night after staying out until 6am that morning. The Northern Lights rippled for over five hours so I had the luxury of being able to travel around and photograph them in different locations. I finished the night at the foot of Mount Yamnuska and watched them dance until just before dawn. I will have more to share soon but wanted to post this one from the early selects where the charged electrons were interacting with Nitrogen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere to create the less typical purple flames alongside the Oxygen which creates the more common green glow.
Last night was the lunar eclipse where the moon turned a deep red which lasted for more than an hour. I traveled to south to get to the edge of the clouds which had rolled in over my home in Bragg Creek before sunset. In Turner Valley I found clear skies and set up as the moon was entering the earth’s shadow.
I was awestruck, as usual, with this fourth of the tetrad of lunar eclipses which have been spaced six months apart starting in April 2014.
It was a beautiful transit with the moon’s surface moving through oranges and reds before returning to her brilliant white. It has been an incredible series of events to witness and I have enjoyed photographing them immensely. I’m excited about the new beginnings and opportunities they herald.