Collin J Örthner – Photographer

May 16, 2016

Best Storm of the Year

Filed under: Nature, Night, Rokinon 12mm Fish-Eye, Skyscape, Sony A7R, Stars, Storms — collin orthner @ 9:46 pm

The best solar storm of the year so far occurred on Saturday night and Sunday morning the 7th and 8th of May. The auroras were easily visible from inside the city limits which means they are very bright, so around 11pm I grabbed my camera gear and headed south of town. It was a very clear night, so I didn’t need to travel too far for nice dark skies. After travelling about 15 or 20 kilometres south I found a nice high spot with no power lines to intrude in the picture. Man I hate it when I don’t notice power lines until I review my images later. It can easily happen as I work rather quick when taking aurora pictures as they don’t necessarily last very long. Typically you see the pale green aurora that are not very dramatic, sometimes for hours, and then all of a sudden the auroral storm intensifies for maybe 10 minutes. That’s when I jump into action, usually with a very wide-angle lens like the Rokinon 14mm or 24mm. On this night I took a few pictures with these two lenses but the auroral display was across the whole sky and I decided to use my 12mm full frame fish-eye lens. These fish-eye lenses cover 180º, which is a lot of sky! Remember those power lines I mentioned, yeah sometimes they creep into the edge or corners of images which drives me crazy. So this first site, being clear of power lines and offering up a beautiful view looking south, was fabulous. You can see the lights from Calgary glowing on the horizon. I de-fisheyed the picture in photoshop. For the first time, for me, I managed to capture a blue streak of aurora in the upper right edge of the picture. The blue is caused by ionized nitrogen in the atmosphere and usually appear at the lowest level of the curtains and at the highest levels of solar activity. This picture may be a view of almost 600km of sky from one edge to the next and the auroras were pulsating the whole time I was out, which is always very dramatic to view!

 

The next picture shows one of the gravel roads in Red Deer County looking south. Fun thing is the Big Dipper is in the picture just above centre right and the North Star is right at the top edge, which simply shows how much sky a fish-eye lens sees! Can you find the Dipper?? The red glow is from my car’s tail lights.

 

The last picture is from a spot high up on the hills south of Red Deer which allows me to see the city’s lights quite nicely. I kept shooting as the shapes kept changing very quickly. In this picture the aurora looks like a bird flying over Red Deer! The show on this night didn’t last only 10 minutes, but instead I was treated to nearly an hour of gorgeous auroras!!

March 17, 2016

Protected

Filed under: Agriculture, Black & White, Hand of Man, Ice, Nature, Skyscape, snow, Sony RX100 II, Travel, Trees, Winter — collin orthner @ 9:01 pm

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“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer.  But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”
–  Henry David Thoreau   

 

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This lone tree was possibly being protected by the farmer due to it’s beautiful shape or perhaps this used to be the site of an old homestead and he wanted to preserve something of the heritage of his farm. Of course there were other trees around, but in Kneehill County there are not near as many as in the parkland biome of Alberta. Mostly the tree are planted as windbreaks around farmyards, but every now and again you’ll find nice pockets of protected trees especially in the northern parts of the county. The further south you travel, the more sparse the  trees become. I quite liked how the cloud patterns resemble the snow patterns on the stubble field and the vehicle tracks on the right are mirrored in the clouds as well.

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March 14, 2016

Leaning

Filed under: Agriculture, Architecture, Black & White, Hand of Man, Nature, Skyscape, snow, Sony RX100 II, Travel, Wind, Winter — collin orthner @ 12:31 pm

Leaning to the east, this small granary in Kneehill County near Trochu, has been buffeted by strong chinook winds from the west for many years and on this day it was about to get hit again. All the dark brooding clouds were just behind the leading edge of this new chinook which warmed the air to a balmy 17ºC. The warm wind made fairly quick work of the last remaining snow and all the small creeks were running strong with meltwater for the next few days as the water, following the law of gravity, rushed on the quickest route downhill towards the Red Deer River.

 

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Chinook

“Snow Eater” the Blackfoot call you.
Born of the sea,
Flowing inland
To warm the land,
Climb a mountain
And bestow
A benediction of rain
On the forest below.
Chill and dry
At the top.
Nearly touching the sky.
Warmed by the speed
Of your descent,
You blow through
The Clouds,
Carving an arch
High in the sky.
Your signature.
Then march
Across the foothills
Raising the temperature,
Melting ice and snow
As you go.

~ John Bishop Ballem

 

March 12, 2016

Kneehill County, Alberta

Filed under: Agriculture, Black & White, Hand of Man, Nature, Skyscape, snow, Sony RX100 II, Travel, Water — collin orthner @ 10:05 pm

It feels like springtime in Alberta and the sloughs are filling up with meltwater again, even though it technically is still winter for a couple more weeks. The only sound here was that of water running in the ditch and the wind blowing through the fence wires and the grass. I was travelling with my friend Michael Chesworth on our way towards Drumheller when we came across this beautiful scene in Kneehill County. We travel with no agenda and no major goals in mind, simply enjoying our time together and the scenery along as many gravel backroads as we can find. Of course gravel roads allow us to travel slowly if we want to, and we do, and stop often without the worry of traffic, so it generally takes us a long time to get anywhere! But that is exactly how I like it!

 

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there’s something rather strange and still

about a warm winter afternoon

when the sun has dipped until

there is only a subtle peach haze on the

clouds

and a silver sparkle on the trees

                  the snow is soft

with endless rills and rolls

and tracks

birds hush

for a change, and listen

animals smile with their gentle eyes

                                  and people

                                          people

look and look

and take off their mitts

and adjust their hats

and breathe deeply

trying to grasp it

I wonder if warm winter afternoons

mean this much everywhere

or just here

Marilyn Cay  –  “Strange and Still”

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February 22, 2016

Bower Woods in Fog

Filed under: Autumn, Hi Res, Minolta 100mm f2.5 Rokkor-X, Nature, Sony A7R, Trees — collin orthner @ 10:10 pm

Late in the fall we had a very cold night  with high humidity which gave us a nice foggy morning. I enjoy the tranquility of walking in through the woods in the fog, but I don’t much enjoy driving in it unless I’m on a backroad where I can move along slowly. Bower Woods is only a few minutes from my home and becomes my default many days when I feel like walking and thinking. Not only do I feel calm when surrounded by the fog, but  sounds and colours are all muted as well.

 

Bower Woods, Red Deer, AB

 

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February 12, 2016

Visual Pollution

Filed under: Architecture, Black & White, Documentary, Hand of Man, Industrial, snow, Sony RX100 II, Winter — collin orthner @ 11:39 pm

Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue and refers to the impacts of pollution that impair one’s ability to enjoy a vista or view.”  Wikipedia

During my lunch breaks at work, I like to go for a walk around downtown Red Deer to get some fresh air and feel the sun and wind on my face. It refreshes me, but not comparing even remotely to the kind of refreshment I get when I first breath in clean, fresh, cool mountain air when I travel into the Rocky Mountains, but it is certainly refreshing compared to the air in my office! The visual stimuli leave a lot to be desired in the downtown core. Visual pollution runs rampant and can almost be called embarrassing to think that after a hundred plus years of being incorporated as a town and city, that this is all the City of Red Deer could accomplish! It is, however, an interesting challenge to myself to find “beauty” amongst it all, a composition that exhibits balance and harmony or a complete lack of it. Maybe it’s the lighting and atmospheric conditions that help the situation. Whatever it is, I like to try and find it.

 

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These two photographs were taken only a day or two apart from each other from virtually the same spot just down the back alley from work. You can see the same post on the left of the first photo and again on the far right of the second  photo.

 

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February 3, 2016

Drilling for Fish

I suppose with almost no drilling for oil in these parts right now, an alternative might well be drilling for fish! Gull Lake in south central Alberta has it’s fair share of winter sportsmen who enjoy hanging out on the ice waiting for a fleeting glimpse of a fish. I for one don’t care for the sport, oh I’ve done it, but likely won’t ever again. Fly fishing – you bet, ice fishing – not so much. However, being that I enjoy photography so much, who is to say I can’t make a few photos of those that are still exploring the sport?

I have most Mondays off work(I usually work Saturdays, so please don’t get too excited thinking I get three day weekends!) and I have been waiting for a Monday that shows up with a nice cover of high clouds to enable the photo I am after for quite awhile. Sometimes my Mondays get rather full of things I need to get done, but this past week, I had a few hours available to go photographing and the conditions were ideal! I set off after driving my wife to work and enjoying a coffee with her.

It is a fairly short drive from Red Deer around a half hour or so. The day use area of Aspen Provincial Park is gated for the winter so a short half a kilometre walk got me to the beach area and just off shore were some of the fishing huts I was after.

 

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I attempted this image last year, but the one time I made it out, the windchill was hovering around -30ºC, and I only took the time to make a photograph on 35mm film, which unfortunately was very far outdated 400ISO, so the resulting image was lacking shall we say!

As I was walking down the beach I noticed the one hut on the far right of the above image looking a bit lonely at the edge of the herd and I decided to isolate it with a telephoto lens to really give it the feeling of being lonely out there.

 

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Then just before I was about to leave the beach and head back to my car one of the sportsmen decided to drill a new hole far from all the others. He had walked quite a distance with his ice auger and started drilling. I slang into action hoping to get set up in time to get at least one image before he finished the chore. I don’t know if he trouble starting the machine, but he seemed a bit delayed allowing me the few extra seconds to get my tripod set up and ready. I like this image the best from the time I spent at Gull Lake and would like to try printing it large with a white wood frame.

 

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6.7″ x 10″ – Open Edition Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/45

20″ x 30″ – Edition of 9 + 1 AP  Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/385

30″ x 45″ – Edition of 4 +1 AP  Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/825

40″x 60″ – Edition of 4 +1 AP  Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/1650

January 1, 2016

Little Mere Lake

Filed under: Black & White, Hi Res, Ice, Nature, Sony A7R, Travel, Trees, Winter — collin orthner @ 11:17 pm

Little Mere Lake is along the northern border of the Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area north of Stony Plain, Alberta. My in-laws live fairly close to the area and so I try and travel along the roads and trails whenever we are visiting. I have been doing this now for more than 25 years and it still remains one of my favourite areas to be, although Parkland County has allowed a great many acreages to be built immediately bordering the small park with a lot of wells being dug, and I think that may be partly causing a drastic drop in the lake levels. The trails are fantastic and well maintained either for hiking, biking, or horseback riding in the three seasons without snow and in winter cross country ski trails are put down. As some of the lakes are now stocked with fish as well, the park has become quite busy and it would be a rare day now to have a trail to oneself, unlike in the past. I suppose I miss the days of the area being very quiet and unpopulated, but it is great to see so many who are out to enjoy the outdoors. I just hope it is managed in a way that prevents the destruction of the park.

 

 

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December 28, 2015

One Last Thunderclap

Filed under: Lightning, Nature, Night, Olympus LS-10, Sound Recording, Storms — collin orthner @ 4:06 pm

Last summer we had a few nice thunderstorms, and one of them allowed me to mount a sound recorder near our kitchen window without getting soaked by rain. It was early in the morning and the main part of the thunderstorm had passed through leaving a nice quiet rain and a few low rumbles. But then it offered up one last thunderclap for me. A good set of headphones would be best for playback.

 

 

 

December 20, 2015

The Sound of Silence

Filed under: Agriculture, Hand of Man, Hi Res, Mammals, Olympus OM Zuiko 200mm f5, snow, Sony A7R, Travel, Winter — collin orthner @ 9:09 pm

My in-laws live in Parkland County, a short distance west of Edmonton. We visited them a week ago and I took the opportunity to head out before breakfast and well before the sun awakened. I usually head towards the Chickakoo Lakes Recreation Area which has wonderful trails and some great scenery. On my way I came across this scene which I have seen innumerable times. I have often thought it would make a great image if there was ever a horse in the right spot, but it hasn’t happened in over 20 years! That is, until last weekend, and we happened to have a nice snowfall to add some great ambience to the scene. I pulled over and got my camera all set up and then just had to wait for the horse to cooperate and stand nicely. Being early on a Sunday morning, there was nobody stirring and it was almost dead silent. I waited maybe 5 minutes enjoying the beautiful silence. The horse was also moving it’s head, and as there was still very little light it’s head would blur due to the long exposure. After a few more images however, I got one where the horse was standing just right and didn’t move perceptibly for the length of the exposure.

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Parkland County, Alberta

 

10″ x 8″ – Open Edition Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/45

30″ x 24″ – Edition of 9 + 1 AP  Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/350

40″ x 32″ – Edition of 4 +1 AP  Printed on Ilford Galerie Prestige 310gsm, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/750

 

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