Fall flew by much too quickly this year. I suppose it didn’t help that we received so much snowfall the moment the leaves started to change colour. October has been an especially busy month for me, amplifying the feeling that time is flying by. Throughout the month I’ve caught a few wonderful sunrises, clear night skies, worked with some fantastic clients and made progress on some projects for Deviant Optiks.
Over the summer, I felt as though every time I was able to go out for sunrise, there were entirely no clouds or it was completely clouded over. And then the forest fire smoke rolled in. I found it difficult to be motivated to go out for questionable conditions. In the spring, a massive fire damaged half the condo building I was living in (my things were okay – make sure you have offsite and possibly online backups of your images, I was glad I did). After a few weeks of having brief access to my unit, I was forced me to move just before summer started. I felt like I should be spending time trying to catch up and getting life in order instead of taking chances on sunrises that likely would not work out.
At the very end of September, I took a trip out to Assiniboine Provincial Park. That helped me reset in a way. There was a lot of snowfall over September, so I wasn’t able to scramble any of the mountains I had in mind. I spent a lot of time walking around, taking photos and reminding myself how fun it was to experiment, be in the mountains and just look. When I returned from the backcountry, I decided I would make the time to get out to shoot, even if it may not be under the best conditions.
That started with chasing aurora on October 7. It was questionable whether there would be clear skies within a reasonable radius around Calgary. The probability of getting a strong enough geomagnetic storm to see aurora at my latitude was also uncertain. I took a chance and enjoyed a mostly clear window around a little pond near Calgary. The shot below highlights the big dipper shining above the dancing aurora. To make the big dipper stand out a bit more than the rest of the stars, I used this technique to dim the surrounding stars.
On October 11 I went out to Two Jack lake in hopes of a colourful sunrise and a good reflection. Every time I have gone to Two Jack (it’s not that many times, to be honest), the wind picked up and the water was always choppy. This time the reflections were almost perfect, but no clouds showed up. The alpenglow was pretty though, and there was just enough ice along the shoreline for some great foreground elements to mess around with. Everyone else that was at the lake that day (it is a busy spot) had their tripods set to the max height and barely moved, so you know they all have similar images and nothing like what I composed. Pro tip: don’t just stand around with your tripod at the max height in the same spot; move around, have some fun, get low, the squats will keep you warmer ;).
Another win was a spectacular sunrise at Bow Lake (I’ve had some busts there before). On the morning I went out to Bow Lake, I knew there wasn’t much in the forecast for clouds. I figured some alpenglow would be nice and then I could explore and shoot along the Icefields Parkway. During the drive the skies were clear, and the stars were beautiful. As I neared the north end of Bow Lake, I saw mist and some faint clouds in the sky. The sky exploded with colour as the sun came up.
After this sunrise, I shot around Mount Chephren. I tried to use as many techniques as I could to challenge myself with how I looked at the scenes.
With Milky Way season being over for us at 51 degrees North (read more about that here), I’m looking for interesting ways to shoot landscapes under starlight. I’m also paying attention to what constellations are positioned where and at what time in the sky. The skies have been incredibly dark. Not even a hint of airglow.
I still have many photos to edit from these trips. It’s always nice to come away from shoots with lots of different material to work through. In between all those adventures and the editing, I have made some progress on a few projects, as mentioned at the beginning of this post. Some of these will be announced in my new Newsletter, which was its own project. If you would like to sign up, head over here. The first one is going out on November 1, and anyone who signs up by then is entered to win a 16×24 inch print of choice.
I have also put together two 2019 Calendars. All the details can be found here.
Lastly, I have recently announced two workshops in Edmonton at the end of November/Beginning of December:
And there are a couple of spots left in my in the field workshop with The Camera Store on November 10th: