In December while my son was in snowboarding lessons at Nakiska, I drove further into Kananaskis Country. At Spillway Lake, along the Smith-Dorrien Trail, I found the sun laying low above the silhouettes of the forest and the mountain ridge lines.
The sun has taken on a strange appearance each of the last few evenings. The smoke from the wildfires to the west was thick in the foothills west of Calgary last Thursday when I stopped along Highway 8. The pink globe in the sky drew my attention and, once stopped, I enjoyed watching the small clouds drifting past. This one looked like a dancing bull, or maybe a bison in full stride, as it charged across the sun.
Our family enjoyed a beautiful weekend at Emerald Lake in the Yoho National Park on the weekend. On Sunday, while enjoying the warm sunshine and vibrant air, Bobbi became aware of a vivid sunbow overhead. Many spiritually attuned cultures and people have stated this is a sign from the creator and can mark a time of great change or transition. We were honoured to share space with this one.
Sunbows are also called Whirling Rainbows by some North American First Nations. The Hopi and Navajo share the Whirling Rainbow prophecy, which reads:
“There will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences. They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all Her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Many creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time; the great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish, drawing sustenance from the breast of our Mother, the Earth.
The great spiritual Teachers who walked the Earth and taught the basics of the truths of the Whirling Rainbow Prophecy will return and walk amongst us once more, sharing their power and understanding with all. We will learn how to see and hear in a sacred manner. Men and women will be equals in the way Creator intended them to be; all children will be safe anywhere they want to go. Elders will be respected and valued for their contributions to life. Their wisdom will be sought out. The whole Human race will be called The People and there will be no more war, sickness or hunger forever”
The text of the prophecy is copied, with permission, from Dorothy at the Life Heart and Soul blog.
Raven is the creator in some Native American histories. There were two ravens circling inside of the ring which made the experience increasingly profound. The two ravens can be seen only as specks in the second photo – one just to the left of the sun and the other just above the leftmost tree’s silhouette.
Mist rising off the Elbow River near Bragg Creek catches the sun in its own halo of sunlight.
(Please click on the picture to open a higher resolution version of the image)
The October 23rd solar eclipse was at its maximum at 4:07 pm here in Calgary. It was a partial eclipse with the moon blocking out a majority, but not the entire sun. The sun swung like a pendulum behind the moon which afforded a couple of images of each of the distinct phases. The image above was taken at 4:07 PM MST which was at the maximum.
The image above was from 3:55 PM and the one below was taken at 4:13 PM as the sun and moon separated.
The moon gave it a great try but from our vantage point just west of Calgary, it just missed blocking out the sun this evening. This was in no way a failure on the moon’s part, just our position in the universe relative to it and the sun. As it was, the crescent created by the moon swinging in front of the sun was very impressive.
There was haze in the sky which worked well with the dark glass I had piled on to drop the bright sunlight as much as possible. When a thick cloud pulled above the horizon, I thought it might be too heavy but the colors and textures were amazing.
At this point I thought the moon may move into position in the ring of fire. I hadn’t looked into this solar eclipse much so I did not know if we were in the right location. It was exciting to watch the sun and moon approach. When the moon swung away, it was still great to watch.
This is my favourite image that I made last year. Simple composition, interesting patterns, good colour and a great memory behind it.
These monks worked with our small group on and around the U Bein Bridge in Amarapura in Myanmar. We had gone to their monastery and spoke with the Abbott and then with these monks about the photographs that we wanted to make that afternoon. They were interested to see the end result and really cooperative through the whole time.
The footbridge runs 3/4 of a mile long and is made of teak columns salvaged in 1849 under the direction of the mayor at the time, U Bein. He got a bridge named after him and the people got a way to cross Lake Taungthaman from Amarapura to an island in the middle. The traffic is steady in both directions in the afternoon and into the evening with school children, workers, families and monks crossing on foot and bicycle.
Our guide, Win, used one of the boats that take tourists for a float along the bridge to ferry the monks to a small spit of land about halfway between either end of the bridge. At this time of the year, in February, the water is low enough that there are a couple of places that stay above the waterline around the bridge. In the dry season, I was told the lake can be almost empty. In the wet season, the water has been higher than the walkway! I hope to get back to see either of these extremes. From the little island there is a set of stairs that lead up to the bridge deck. The monks and our guide went up and our group of four photographers headed away from the bridge to frame the scene the way each of us were imagining. The sun was dropping slowly at that point and I was starting to get excited because the light was warming up and I was hopeful that we were heading towards something special.
The scene on the bridge was chaotic and our guide was busy explaining to the people lingering around what we were up to, why the monks were standing between the pylons and when we were hoping to get a break in the traffic. The crowd built up slowly but everyone was patient and seemed to enjoy watching us waving and shouting back and forth to get the men on the bridge in place.
Win was fantastic sharing what we were doing with the people as they waited, and they in turn were great, waiting for about 10 minutes on both sides while the sun fell in line with the monks and the bridge. It moved very quickly and as it did the gold colour in the sky gave way to blue and purple tones as the sunlight had to push through more atmosphere as well as the haze rising up from the water and the forest.
The photograph immediately before my favourite was fun because I had just changed lenses to a 300mm with a 1.4x extender to get as much reach as I could. This was the first image where I was able to isolate the blue and purple section of the sky away from the golds and oranges. That allowed these darker colours to really saturate. That’s when I knew I had the background that I had imagined to frame the monks against.
The last shots of this scene caught the sun as it went under the bridge and then disappeared into the hillside across the plain. From the moment where the sun was just above the umbrellas to where it is peeking under the bridge took just over three minutes. It seemed much less as I was photographing the scene – a flurry of shooting, checking histograms and adjusting settings and compositions. It was a very special opportunity so I was doing everything to make sure that I was getting the best that I could out of the moment. A great memory of a wonderful place.