Posts tagged “night photography

The start of summer lightning

We had a massive thunderstorm roll directly over our home last weekend.  A warm night met with heavy clouds with rain, wind and lightning all in large measures.  We have some incredible storms in the summer – this one felt like the first of those.  Here the forest in my backyard is silhouetted by lighting arcing across the clouds in the storm.

 


Aurora Borealis in the Yukon

Last summer we went to Whitehorse to visit my girlfriend’s family.  One of the nights, we noticed a few lines of color waving in the sky above our patio.  We hopped in the car and drove out of town.  Whitehorse is a pretty small city but the urban lights were too bright for the display to stand out.  We followed a gravel road up a forested hill to a stony field that opened up.

The moon had not quite set when we set up so the first half an hour had the bright moonlight, illuminated clouds and muted northern lights blending across the night sky’s canvas.

The moon set and the aurora display intensified as well so that the greens, blues and traces of purple rippling above were mesmerizing.  We stayed there for a couple of hours.  That was my first time to the Yukon and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy the Northern Lights that far north.  I hope for the same kind of luck when we visit there next.


Evening over Sulphur Mountain

With the day slipping away from the Vermilion Lakes in the Bow Valley, the clouds began to light up in the last light of the day.  This column started out bright white and soon burned into a hot pink.  It hung over the valley between Sulphur Mountain and Sunshine Peak brushing them with a faint pastel hue before dimming as night took hold.


Happy New Year’s Day

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.

 


Nightscapes from the past year

I’ve been wanting to put together a couple of posts with common themes using photographs which I have not published.  These aren’t the best of the year series, I’ll look to have those out soon though.  They are simply photographs that I would like to share.

So, I’ll start with a few images taken at night and see what follows after.  Thank you for indulging me in a bit of reverie!

I’m often out at night to chase the Northern Lights, watch the stars or waiting for dawn to come.  The moon always draws my attention when she’s up and I’m out.

Calgary’s downtown lights also have a definite charm.  Here I stood over the Elbow at River Park just before Christmas.

Seagulls fly over the Bow River during a blizzard in Calgary’s downtown.

A reflection pooled in the cobblestone of Montreal’s old port district caught my attention during a night spent in the grand city.

One of the very best nights was watching the fireworks on Canada Day with my son at Mont-Tremblant.


Looking west along the Trans-Canada Highway

A pretty view caught my eye as I crossed over the Trans-Canada Highway near the Springbank airport west of Calgary.  The early sunsets of late autumn like this are great to enjoy.


Nightscapes in Kananaskis

A 25 second exposure and a fast lens (in this case, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 set at f/1.8) revealed wisps of clouds stretching east across the Kananaskis River valley a little after 4 in the morning on October 7th.  The soft green glow betrayed the Aurora Borealis pulsing low over the northern horizon.

Red light from my headlamp illuminated Highway 40 in this 10 second exposure that centered on the hazy Northern Lights.


Springbank electrics

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.

 


A night in the old port of Montréal

A silhouetted self-portrait in the Old Port, Vieux-Port, of Montréal in Québec, Canada.

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!


La Joute – a fountain of water, fog and fire

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.


La Grande roue de Montréal

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.


January’s lunar eclipse

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.


Happy Holidays!

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.


Flashback Friday – a circle of light at the Vermilion Lakes

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.


Happy New Year!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!


My first night with the Northern Lights this fall

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Crowchild in motion

Crowchild in motion - © Christopher Martin-0241-2

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.


Aurora over Yamnuska

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7588

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.


Eclipse of the super moon

September's super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0370

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.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0337

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.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0413

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.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0468


The Milky Way over Waterton

Milky Way over Waterton - © Christopher Martin-3462

The stars in the Waterton area shine brilliantly under the dark sky.  From our campsite, my son and I could make out the Milky Way as it rose out of the mountains that line the valley from the town and down the lake.


Birding before dawn

Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4044
While waiting for sunrise when I was out on the prairie I stopped at a small roadside slough where there were a variety of shorebirds milling about.  One Avocet and two Black-necked stilts were curious about my nighttime activities and stayed close by.
Avocet in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4036It was too dark for the camera to expose the birds as they moved around so I used a flash set on low power to illuminate the Avocet swimming a few yards off the shoreline.  The stilt found that quite intriguing and circled me on land and in the air a couple of times before I carried on towards the eastern glow.
Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4074
Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4053

Northern Lights in Bragg Creek

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4180

After the Great gray owl and I parted ways it was very dark which helped me to notice a slight glow to the north.  I drove to a field where I could get a better view of the sky and found the Aurora Borealis was just starting to brighten off the horizon.  The lights rippled and stretched above valley for more than an hour.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4153

As they began to wane, I went to nearby Wild Rose Lake and was able to catch the Aurora’s reflection in the water.  As well as its glow mixing with the city light from Calgary.  This was an unexpected, but gratefully welcomed, surprise and end to an already great night photographing out in the country.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4262

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4201

 

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4220

 


Cabo traffic’s night moves

Cabo traffic's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3351

Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640

Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas.  With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3364Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/5 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3432Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/5th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3283Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 4/10ths of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 200

When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques.  I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3339Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/4 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3372Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/3.5 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3296Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 3/10ths of a second at f/8 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3419Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/4th of a second at f/10 on ISO 1600

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3383Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600

 For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3495Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 3200


Aurora Borealis over the Elbow River

Aurora over the Elbow - 2014 © Christopher MartinAurora over the Elbow
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 2.5 seconds at f/1.6 on ISO 1600

The Northern Lights came to life over my home in Redwood Meadows a couple of nights ago.  I threw on some winter gear and walked down to the Elbow River with my camera and tripod.  The moon was waning but was close to full and lit up the snow and ice so my headlamp wasn’t needed.  I went out on the ice and watched the Aurora ripple across the northern quarter of the sky.  It was a cold and very late show.  And I loved it.

Note: Click on any photograph to open a higher resolution version of the image.

Aurora fire - 2014 © Christopher MartinNorthern Lights on ice
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1.6 seconds at f/2.5 on ISO 1600

 

Aurora Flare - 2014 © Christopher MartinAurora Flare
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 4 seconds at f/2.5 on ISO 1600

The colors dimmed after an hour or so and I could barely make out the lights.  The camera could still resolve them and I liked the subtle color in one of the last images from the evening.

Fading Aurora - 2014 © Christopher MartinFading lights
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 3.2 seconds at f/2 on ISO 1600

 

Searching for the Northern Lights - 2014 © Christopher MartinSearching for the Northern Lights
Canon 5DIII + 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm: 8 seconds at f/8 on ISO 1600