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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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.

 

 

 

November 25, 2015

Masses of Light

Filed under: Autumn, Hi Res, Nature, Night, Rokinon 24mm T1.5 Cine DS, Skyscape, Sony A7R, Stars, Storms — collin orthner @ 9:41 pm

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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, WARM – BRIGHT.

Last night, just as we were going to turn in, the Northern Lights began and the display, which lasted all night, was the most brilliant and the colour effects the most beautiful I have ever seen. At times it seemed as if the whole sky was illuminated as the streamers of light with the brilliancy and appearance of search lights played over the sky, with here and there big masses of light delicately coloured. It was fascinating to watch the continual changes going on and the weird sensation it produced. Sometimes the effect was that of a gigantic stereopticon lantern turned on the sky for it’s curtain, only instead of pictures we saw fantastic shapes and forms come and go in the zone of light.

The Forgotten Explorer – Samuel Prescott Fay’s 1914 Expedition to the Northern Rockies

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A few weeks ago we had a fabulous northern lights show. The evening was gorgeous too, No moon and without any wind with the temperature around 5°C. The lights were very active for almost an hour allowing me some time to get to more than one site. This is one of the first images I made. This was also a very unique location east or Red Deer that was completely void of farm lights, and the aurora were so bright they were lighting up the fields. Being so bright, I was also using a very short exposure allowing the image to show off the curtains better and not simply blending them together as a green mush. There was very little red aurora evident unfortunately, but any show this good was worth being out for!

 

Red Deer County, Alberta

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November 16, 2015

fôg

Filed under: Agriculture, Autumn, Hi Res, Minolta 100mm f2.5 Rokkor-X, Nature, Sony A7R, Trees — collin orthner @ 11:07 pm

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The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.

	                            Carl Sandburg 1916
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fog 1

  (fôg, fŏg)

n.

1. Condensed water vapor in cloudlike masses lying close to the ground and limiting visibility.

2.

a. An obscuring haze, as of atmospheric dust or smoke.
b. mist or film clouding a surface, as of a window, lens, or mirror.
3. cloud of vaporized liquid, especially a chemical spray used in fighting fires.

4.

a. state of mental vagueness or bewilderment.
b. Something that obscures or conceals; a haze: shrouded their actions in a fog of disinformation.
5. blur on a developed photographic image.
v.  foggedfog·gingfogs

v.tr.

1. To cover or envelop with fog.
2. To cause to be obscured; cloud.
3. To make vague, hazy, or confused: memory that had been fogged by time.
4. To obscure or dim (a photographic image).

v.intr.

1. To be covered with fog.
2. To be blurred, clouded, or obscured: My glasses fogged in the warm air.
3. To be dimmed or obscured. Used of a photographic image.

[Perhaps of Scandinavian origin.]

fog′ger n.

fog 2

(fôg, fŏg)

n.

1. new growth of grass appearing on a field that has been mowed or grazed.
2. Tall, decaying grass left standing after the cutting or grazing season.

[Middle English foggetall grasssee pū̆- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Red Deer County, Alberta

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6.7″ x 10″ – Open Edition Printed on Hahnemuhle Photorag 308g, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/45

20″ x 30″ – Edition of 9 + 1 AP  Printed on Hahnemuhle Photorag 308g, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/350

26.7″ x 40″ – Edition of 4 +1 AP  Printed on Hahnemuhle Photorag 308g, signed, numbered, and shipped  http://www.paypal.me/collinorthner/750

 

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Whether it softly comes in on little cat feet, or rolls in like a spooky movie, everyone has experienced fog. Although there are different types of fog, essentially fog is a cloud on the ground which reduces visibility to less than 1km. The basic requirements for fog to form are moisture in the air – the closer to 100% humidity the better, and the air near the ground must be cooling to within 5 F (3 C) of dew point – this is the temperature to which air must be cooled in order for water vapor in the air to condense to liquid water. When the air near the ground cools to dew point, the water vapor in the air will become visible as fog in the air or dew on the ground.

Fogs during summer will only happen with clear skies and near 100% humidity. There must also be condensation nuclei – or something onto which the water can condense. Condensation nuclei can be dust particles, aerosols, pollutants etc. When the air is saturated, additional moisture will condense onto this nuclei. Fog so often forms after sunset because that is when the air begins to cool and condensation replaces evaporation. Air cools best with clear skies as there are no clouds to trap the heat.

Fog can form at lower humidity levels if there are a really large amount of nuclei, especially if it is something such as salt.

During the summer, if there is a storm which includes hail, a phenomenon called hail fog can form. It is usually a shallow layer of fog above the ground. It forms because of increased moisture and cold air coming in contact with the warm ground.

During fall and early winter the most common form of fog is radiation fog. This type of fog forms when the land cools after sunset by radiating the heat up into the atmosphere. The air must be calm and the skies clear, again because cloud cover will trap heat in. When the ground is cool, it will cause condensation in the air above it. The more calm the air, the lower the fog is, under ideal conditions, the fog may only be a meter deep. Air movement will produce a thicker fog. Radiation fog can occur throughout the night but rarely lasts long after sunrise.

During winter – fog forms in a different manner, almost the opposite of summer fogs. During the winter months, fog will form when humid air moves over a cold surface. Winter fog is more common around bodies of water and is sometimes called lake effect fog.

 

Freezing fog, or Steam fog tends to occur in localized areas where cool air passes over warm, moist land. The tiny droplets in the fog will then freeze to surfaces. This frozen “fog” is called rime ice or hoar frost. Don’t confuse this with freezing rain – which is a true precipitation. Freezing fog is common at high elevations may come into contact with low clouds. An example of freezing fog is the ice which forms in old style freezers that aren’t “frost-free.”

In high northern or southern latitudes, especially around urban areas Ice fog can form. Ice fog is any type of fog where the droplets freeze into very tiny crystals in midair. This type of fog forms when the air temperature is well below freezing, generally below zero, so that any vapor present almost immediately condenses. Vapor is added to the air by automobile exhaust, furnaces and industrial plant exhaust. Ice fog can be extremely dense, posing driving hazards and the fog can last all through the day and night. The minuscule ice crystals sparkle in the sunlight and are often called “diamond dust”. Diamond dust can pose a health hazard if too much is inhaled. The Shoshone tribe of Native Americans had their own name for ice fog: they called it the Pogonip, which means “white death.” again because of the hazards of breathing it in.

If it seems sometimes that fog forms really quickly you are correct. There is a condition called flash fog. Fog can dissipate just as rapidly. This condition is dependent on which side of the dew point the temperature is.

If you live near the ocean you will likely have seen sea fog. Sea fog forms when the condensation nuclei is salt. Salt is, of course, very common near the ocean where it is kicked up into the atmosphere by the breaking waves. Salt is a unique condensation nuclei in that it will allow fog to form when the humidity is as low as 70%. Typically this fog begins as a transparent mistiness which rapidly changes to thick fog. Sea fog is a common type of fog along the California cost.

Fog can sometimes be accompanied by drizzle when the humidity stays at 100%. When this happens tiny cloud droplets can coalesce into larger droplets. When the temperatures are below freezing the drizzle will freeze producing very hazardous driving conditions. Drizzle usually occurs just as the fog is lifting, and therefore cooling, or when the droplets are being compressed from the droplets above.

When wind blows moist air over a cool surface the air will cool and advection fog will form. Advection fog is very common at sea when tropical winds pass over cooler waters and on land when a warm front passes over heavy snow. It can also form in areas of upwelling, such as along the California coast. During spring or fall a cold front can propel the air layer over the land. During the summer months, a low pressure trough can be produced by intense heating inland which creates a strong pressure gradient, pulling the fog in from the water. Also during the summer, during the monsoons, a high pressure over the desert can create a southerly flow which pushes the offshore layer of air up the coastline. This type is most commonly created after a heat spell.

When winds blow up a slope they will cool as they rise, causing water vapor to condense and producing what is called upslope fog. If the slope is high enough, freezing fog will form.

Valley fog is a localized form of radiation fog and forms most often in winter when there is a temperature inversions. This is where colder, more dense air settles in the valleys with warmer air passing above. It can actually last for days if there is no wind to mix the air. In the Central Valley region of California, locals call this type of fog Tule Fog.

 

Most everyone has heard fog described to be “thick as pea soup,” but few folks know where this term originated from. Though it is liberally used to describe any thick fog it orginally was used to describe a dingy yellow smog from burning soft coal. This type of fog was common in Europe, especially London which is famous for its fog anyway. Such fogs occurred in London all the way up till the Clean Air Act of 1956.

Mist is often mistaken for fog and with good reason. The only difference between the two is in our definition of them. If the visibility is less then 1 km, the phenomenon is termed fog, otherwise it is mist. Mist tends to look a bit bluish from a distance. Mist is artificially created when you exhale warm breath on a cold day.

 

There is a fair amount of weather related folklore surrounding fog, most of it with only a marginal amount of truth.

“If fog forms on water in the autumn or spring a frost is on the way.” This one has some truth to it in that the fog indicates a lot of moisture in the air, and there are many nights cool enough for frost to form with that moisture in autumn and spring.

“A foggy morning with dew on grass indicates a clear day.” This saying is often true because fog most often forms on calm, clear nights and that naturally would lead to a clear day ahead.

Other sayings however, are purely silly and very inaccurate. “Dogs sleeping through the day indicate a coming storm or heavy fog.” Dog owners will attest that their dogs sleep through the day regardless of clouds, fog or clear. “Observe on what day the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October,” and “Three days of heavy morning fog, watch for bad weather in 90 days,” are about as illogical as groundhogs looking for their shadow to determine when spring will come!

 

Many people find fog beautiful, but no one can deny it is a visibility hazard. Before radar, fog caused many a collision. Cars and trucks however don’t have radar and must use extra caution driving through fog. Localized fog is especially dangerous to unwary drivers when it appears suddenly.

Fog can wreck real havoc with airports, often grounding flights for hours at a time. There have been some attempts to disperse the fog by spraying salt particles into the air but this has been only partially successful and only when temperatures are below freezing.

If you can’t get enough of fog, try visiting the foggiest place in the world. This honor goes to the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland, Canada. Here, one can enjoy fog over 200 days a year! Why is it so foggy here? The Grand Banks is the place where the cold Labrador Current coming in from the north, meets up with the warmer Gulf Stream coming up from the south. If you aren’t a sea farer, you can still enjoy lots of foggy weather by visiting Point Reyes, California, or Argentia, Newfoundland both sites also enjoying nearly 200 foggy days a year!

http://www.starryskies.com

November 8, 2015

Season of Perfect Works

Filed under: Abstract, Autumn, Hi Res, Minolta 100mm f2.5 Rokkor-X, Nature, Sony A7R, Trees — collin orthner @ 6:11 pm

“The landscape looked singularly clean and pure and dry, the air like a pure glass being laid over the picture, the trees so tidy and stripped of their leaves; the meadow and pastures clothed with clean, dry grass, looked as if they had been swept; ice on the water and winter in the air, but yet not a particle of snow on the ground. The woods, divested in great part of their leaves, are being ventilated. It is the season of perfect works, of hard, tough, ripe twigs, not of tender buds and leaves. The leaves have made their wood, and a myriad new withes stand up all around, pointing to the sky, and able to survive the cold. It is only the perennial that you see, the iron age of the year.”

Autumn From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau, 1892

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Bower Woods, Red Deer, Alberta

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

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

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