Late night show

All my aurora apps were buzzing with notifications of potential aurora activity and the weather apps predicted clear skies, so I convinced my photo buddy, Mel, to join me for a late night stop at Sandbar Provincial Park. When we arrived an the landing, which conveniently extends directly north from the shore of Sandbar Lake, there was a hint of an arch of green glow on the distant horizon.

Eventually, some activity occurred along with additional colour. The purples aren’t visible to the naked eye; prolonged exposure seems to bring that out.

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While we waited for something spectacular to happen, we tried our hand with some Milky Way shots form the skies behind us. Note: always take a look behind you every now and then while out on a shoot! I’ll share more about the Milky Way in a later post.

Since not much was changing in the northern skies and the band of Milky Way stars gradually moved behind the tree line, we decided to relocate for a better view of the southern sky.

While doing that the sky behind us brightened significantly (remember to always check behind you!) so we headed back to the landing.

What a show!!

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The activity extended from the horizon to directly above our heads. It was difficult to know where to look or point the camera!

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This image is a panorama I was able to have Photoshop construct with about a dozen portrait shots of the north sky.

Can you pick out the Big Dipper?

After the rain

Thirsty lupin foliage collects tiny droplets in tidy rows guiding moisture down into the center.

Lupin drink

This image was my first attempt at ‘stacking’ shots. With a long lense, it is not possible to get the whole image in focus. I took several shots adjusting the focus each time. The images are stacked in Photoshop and parts of each are masked to reveal the clearest part. A greater amount of the overall image is then in focus.

It is essential to use a tripod. The slightest movement becomes evident in post processing. I tried to reduce movement by shooting with the 2 second self-timer. There was still some movement between shots as the shoot took place in the ditch along side the highway and passing vehicles created an unavoidable draft .

Two of the 4 shots used were overexposed and needed to be adjusted to match the other two. I will have to look into where the exposure lock is on my camera and how to use it!

Hit and Miss

A couple of thunderstorm systems passed just south of us just after sunset last night. Lightning and thunder played tag in the air. Between 9 pm and 10 pm I shot 87 images in attempt to capture at least one with a streak of lightning

lightning shoot thumbnails

The camera was set with my 17-50 mm at 17 mm, ISO 1600, f/2.8 and BULB so I control exposure length. I was using my Trippertrap remote shutter for the second time.

Triggertrap webpageIt works through the app on the smart phone. It has lots of great features but I really miss the feel of a button. The ‘trigger’ on the phone is a small dot at the bottom of the screen so it is difficult to find by touch. Perhaps there’s a setting for any part of the screen to set off the shutter – will have to look in to that.

Anyway, there was a lot of lightning but most was sheet lightning.  Even when I thought I was capturing a streak of lightning, the extreme brightness caused the lines blended into the overexposed sky. It was tricky to react like a trained game show contestant with a buzzer and at the same time calculate how long to leave the shutter open relative to how bright the flash of light was! But about the 65th try, I got one!

lightning streak in sky

1.0 sec, f/2.8, 17 mm, ISO 1600 with Canon EOS 7D

 

Signs of Spring

Got a hot photo tip from a good friend of mine (thanks, Mel!) that at Sandbar Lake Provincial Park the marsh marigolds were out and the bugs were not! So I grabbed my gear and rubber boots to check it out.

field of marsh marigolds

marsh marigolds

I was surprised to see how abundantly they grew in this swampy area just adjacent to the picnic pavilion. The sun was setting and I tried unsuccessfully to catch some of the yellow blooms in the glow of evening sun. The colours were actually captured more truly in the shaded areas. I played around a little with the polarizing filter which helped to reduce some of the glare of the wet forest floor and gloss of the leaves.

Comparison

The iPhone does a decent job of capturing them too (with a little filter touch from Instagram)marsh marigold field

Although I didn’t notice a particular fragrance to the area (apart from damp dirt) there were some distinctive sounds. While I stood to shoot, I could hear the drumming of grouse in courtship nearby. When I decided to move, the earth seemed determined to hold me fast. It took significant effort to release my boots from the suction of the muck.

Sights and sounds of spring!

More Moose

We are fortunate to travel back roads frequently. I typically have my camera on my lap and set for the conditions ready for whatever we might encounter. It paid off this particular day.

We chanced upon this cow moose grazing in the creek we frequently pass while heading to our cabin in the woods. I was able to slip up and out of the passenger side window to shoot over the roof as she was on the opposite side.

Cow moose in creek

I snapped a few shots as she waded up and out of the water, her ears pivoted repeatedly to determine the extent of the threat we posed.

Cow moose in creek 2

As she moved into the brush, I noticed another pair of ears, a smaller, lighter set.

Cow moose leads calf to safety

The calf was likely napping nearby but quickly followed mom into deeper cover.

Up wind surprise

Yesterday we were able to get away to our private cottage (camp) for a night to decompress after some stressful work days. This morning Lindor & I headed down to the dock to enjoy the solitude and warmth of the rising sun. While sipping my coffee, I was startled to hear a rustle and splashing down the shore from me. I looked expectantly for a loon or other water bird but found to my surprise, a young bull moose wandering out from the brush and into the water for breakfast in the reeds. Realizing I had neglected to bring my DSLR down the 22 steps, I reached for my phone (always on me) to capture what I could before he noticed me or my dog. Both brown boys were oblivious to each other as the moose was up wind of me and Lindor was exploring the shoreline in the opposite direction!

Young bull moose grazing
iPhone capture

I finally gave in to the temptation to move and as quietly as I could, snuck up to the cabin to notify Brad, distract Lindor and grab the DSLR from inside the cabin. In my excitement, I let the screen door close not so quietly behind me which alerted the moose to our presence. I managed 1 quick shot before he took cover in the greenery. I don’t plan to leave my DSLR behind next peaceful dock time!!

Young bull moose in the move
Moose on the move
Young bull moose on the move close up
Moose on the move – cropped

 

Night lights

Didn’t see the expected meteor shower at 1:30 this morning but was treated to the beauty of a moonless night sky!

Night Sky

 

I found this article very helpful in getting my gear set properly the evening before so I wouldn’t have to do it ‘in the field’ in the dark. I used my widest, fastest lense a Tamron 17-50mm at f/2.8, 17 mm, ISO 3200 set the mode to BULB and used my wireless timer remote shutter. It was impossible for me to see well enough to fine tune the focus so I crossed my fingers. made sure it was on manual focus and dialed to infinity.

Because of the brightness of our yard light, I took several images with different exposure times. In Lightroom, I selected the image shot at 25 seconds for the horizon and sky (on the left below) and one with a 4 second exposure for the foreground.

exposure time comparison

 

The two images were then layered in PhotoShop. I added a layer mask to the darker shot then applied the gradient tool to reveal just the bottom of image for the foreground.

layered image

All definitely worth the effort, I’d say. 🙂