I had already crawled into bed last night about 11:30pm and took a peek out the bedroom window and noticed that it was very clear out when I remembered that the summer solstice is one of the best, or only, times that we get a chance to see a somewhat rare phenomena – noctilucent clouds. Sooooooo….. I got dressed again, put on my boots, and grabbed my cameras. Off I headed east and south of town to find a nice dark place to hopefully capture these clouds. I had been out almost an hour before a slight wisp of what looked to be the clouds I was after. I had driven on a bunch of back roads hoping for a nice view that would show the clouds off nicely and fog was forming on many low lying spots. It was a gorgeous night and I came across this large prairie lake and quickly pulled off the road and scrambled to get my gear set up, being extra careful to make all the settings how I needed them. I did not want to mess this image up! I had two cameras going and alternated between them as each was taking 20-30 second exposures. This image is actually 5 images stitched together and could be printed very large if someone was so inclined. I currently have it sized to 2.3m(90″) and it looks very nice indeed. The humidity was amazing and listening to owls hoot and the odd duck call, I honestly wish I could have just stayed out all night, only it makes it tough to get up and get things done today! I finally closed my eyes back in bed just after 3am. GREAT NIGHT!!
Night clouds or noctilucent clouds are tenuous cloud-like phenomena that are the “ragged edge” of a much brighter and pervasive polar cloud layer called polar mesospheric clouds in the upper atmosphere, visible in a deep twilight. They are made of crystals of water ice. Noctilucent roughly means night shining in Latin. They are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator. They can only be observed when the Sun is below the horizon.
They are the highest clouds in Earth’s atmosphere, located in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 76 to 85 kilometres (47 to 53 mi). They are normally too faint to be seen, and are visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow. Noctilucent clouds are not fully understood and are a recently discovered meteorological phenomenon; there is no record of their observation before 1885.
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[Olympus E-M5, Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm Macro]
Soft late day sun casting shadows as I walk along 47th street in Red Deer to meet up with my ride home.
[Panasonic GF2, Panasonic 20mm f1.7]
It was an early Saturday morning in Drumheller. I headed out before sunrise to drive around the small town of Rosedale where I spent quite a few years growing up. I also took the short drive along the Rosebud River to Wayne where you cross 11 bridges in about 7km. The sun had just cleared the valley walls and was raking across the grain elevator creating a wonderful pattern on the side. I scrambled through the ditch with my gear and set up a three image vertical stitch. I don’t think it gets used any longer as the tracks alongside are becoming grown over, unless maybe someone owns it as there own private granary I suppose. I recall the train rumbling through town every night only 30 meters from our front door. Our whole house would shake. I really enjoyed it when a train heading from Saskatoon to Calgary would sit on the siding waiting for a train travelling the other direction to pass. They would sit and idle and sometimes shuttle back and forth maybe dropping off a car or two. The sounds were fantastic! Even now I can lay on my bed listening to sound recordings of trains and I have a very distinct sensation of the building shaking as it had when I was a kid – very cool to say the least.
The trains would pass through town heading west with full loads of grain and on quiet autumn nights I could hear the low rumble for as much as half an hour as the engines pulled hard on their way up the gradual slope along the Rosebud Coulee towards the west coast.
[Sigma DP3 Merrill]
Sunrise in the Alberta Rockies is early when you travel there near the summer solstice. Having been up making images with stars until 12:30am with a group of photography students in Banff National Park, and then needing to be on the road at 3:45am in order to catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake, I was pretty tired for the rest of the day. It was a 45 minute drive up past Lake Louise and then a 10-15 minute hike up to the lookout. Surprisingly there was our group and another couple, so it was a very quite morning. I can’t believe there weren’t throngs of people to view this almost unbelievably beautiful place. One of the women from our group commented to me as the sun was just starting to graze the top of the mountain peaks, “Now this is God’s country!” I couldn’t agree more!!
I made the image using my Sigma DP2 Merrill camera to do a multiple image stitch. This involved being sure to level the camera properly and setting the exposure for the brightest part of any one image and locking it in using “manual” mode and manual focus. I also use the self timer on my camera to avoid any vibration from me pressing the shutter button. Once all is set, I Start at one end of my image and overlapping each subsequent image by about 30% (doesn’t have to be exact) I continue shooting until I reach the other end of where I want the image to end. This image required 5 images, all shot as verticals. I got to try out my new Sunwayfoto ballhead (XB-44 w/ DDH-02) The little DDH-02 allows me to level the head and then swing my panorama above the ball of the head which is so much faster and easier than adjusting three tripod legs independently to get things leveled up! Just for fun I rezzed this image up to a 120″ print in Photoshop CS – it could go bigger still!! These Merrill camera having amazing resolution and stitching five images together creates the ability to print incredibly detailed images at very large size.
[Sigma DP2 Merrill]
Along Township Road 381 east of Red Deer, a few ponds created by beaver dams have flooded trees and shrubs. Searching out reflections of these shrubs to line up with and some fast moving clouds proved challenging, but I had a lot of fun trying!
[Sigma DP3 Merrill]
A four image stitch of some beautiful farmland southeast of town in Red Deer County. This field is simply potential at this point.
Click image to embiggen
[Sigma DP3 Merrill]
Hoar frost lines the branches of a large elm? tree in downtown Red Deer. Not sure about the elm, but it’s my best guess.
[Sigma DP2 Merrill]