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!!

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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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July 6, 2015

Giant Sparks

July 3rd, 10pm, my wife and I are enjoying the evening reading books on our deck. We noticed some “interesting” clouds moving our way. After much deliberation I decided to pack up my cameras and head out just in case it turned into something. It did! There were a lot of giant sparks emanating from the clouds and heading more or less earthward. It was very enjoyable to watch. My first stop was south of Joffre across the river looking NE as one of the storms was heading away from me. It almost seemed like the thunderstorm was dissipating as very few lightning strikes were present. I tried an exposure anyway and managed to capture this lightning strike.

 

Within minutes of this strike the storm gained some life as it started putting the odd CG(cloud to ground)strike from the back of the storm, although there were many that only lit the clouds up from inside. After setting up my camera I hit the shutter and waited, and waited, and waited. I was only seconds from stopping the exposure, to head for another location as more storms were around me, but thought I would pack up my second tripod first and then end it. As I was getting the other tripod into the car I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Quickly swinging my head to the screen on the back of my camera, I confirmed that it had indeed captured the strike pretty much exactly where I would want it!

 

My second location was north of the river now and slightly SW from Joffre looking south. A very active storm was travelling perpendicular to me about 10 km or so away. It was getting dark at this point and was very hard to focus the camera. Subsequently, I missed the focus on this second image slightly, so unfortunately no large prints can be made from it even though it looks fantastic on the internet.

 

 

I travelled a bit further to the NW and situated myself near a very tall radio antenna somewhat SE from Blackfalds and almost directly south of Lacombe. Another very large storm was approaching quite quickly with a rather high volume of CG strikes. Blackfalds and Lacombe were in the direct line of fire. I put on a zoom lens allowing me to get a tighter shot of the strikes and a lens which is weatherproof, just in case. It was far easier to focus now as I had all the streetlights to use as an aid.

 

As the storm moved east it was about to hit Lacombe. I really wanted a shot of a CG right into the city There were a few near misses like this one.

 

But, perseverance paid off and wammo! Right into the middle of the city. From what I have heard, it knocked out some power locally and was a very loud crack that was quite frightening for those near it! I was quite a distance away as I was using a telephoto zoom lens remember. I did hear the boom, but it took a bit of time, travelling at 3 seconds a kilometre, to reach me.

 

 

A completely satisfying time. I could easily have stayed out much later, but I had to work in the morning. I returned back home around 12:30am or so, but was pretty pumped after all the excitement and it took me another hour at least to finally fall asleep!

 

[ Olympus E-M5II, M.Zuiko 9-18mm, M.Zuiko 14-150mm ]

 

 

June 8, 2015

Beautiful Night

Filed under: Nature, Night, Skyscape, Stars, Storms, Travel, Water — collin orthner @ 2:11 pm

Last night was one of the best nights I’ve spent outdoors enjoying creation. It was warm, no wind, very few insects and a major league bonus included seeing the fireflies I talked about in my last post. It didn’t stop there though!! The aurora borealis showed up and put on a nice show, so I was able to capture this image showing the reflection of the auroras in Gull Lake, which was very calm. Oh, the show wasn’t over yet – noctilucent clouds started to glow brilliantly along the horizon as you can see in the image. Listening to all the grebes, geese, ducks, loons and coyotes and even the fish making noises was an experience along with the stunning views is something everyone should put an effort into experiencing! These beautiful nights don’t last long in Alberta, so I love to take advantage of them when I can. I have a few more images that are worth posting, but I have been really busy all day already and I want a nap. Apparently things could fire up again tonight!!

 

 

 

[ Canon 5DmkIII, Canon EF 11-24mm L]

 

 

May 8, 2015

Last Spring Storm

Hopefully all we’ll see now is rain. The fluffy white rain has grown old on me now and I much prefer rain that doesn’t require me to shovel it off the sidewalks! Heading south into Red Deer County with my friend Michael Chesworth on our way to the extreme parts of southern Alberta, we had to endure a day of cold winds and this white stuff. We made rather slow progress as the scenes were really quite beautiful.

 

 

[ Olympus E-M5II, Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm ]

March 3, 2015

Winter in Bower Woods (Trees, Trees, Trees)

Today I am posting few more images from yesterdays snow squall. I showed them to my wife, Laura Lee, last evening and she was quite honest when she said “You’ve shot these before.” in a bored sort of tone. It’s not that she doesn’t think they are competent images, it’s just that it’s more tree images. t certainly have made many images of Bower Woods and also just of trees as a subject. I thoroughly enjoy searching out character trees or dramatic lighting in the woods to make images, but then I do have a lot of them!

 

 

It’s pretty difficult for me to not do it, as I have always had a strong love of nature and here in Red Deer, I don’t find much else worthy of photographing. We don’t have much interesting architecture and our river is frozen solid for almost 6 months of the year. If I only have a few hours to make images, I can’t drive out to the mountains(2.5-3 hours one way) or the badlands(one hour – one way), so I am often either walking through Bower Woods looking at trees or I am wandering around the backroads of Red Deer County, which is mostly a lot of farming. I can’t say I don’t have quite a few interesting and nice images from around the county, but I find the area photographically lacking.

 

 

I know many an established pro will say there are pictures to be made wherever you are, and they aren’t lying. I’ve been known to say the same thing. It’s just that you can only do the same thing for so long before you start to become extremely bored with the idea. Trees, so far at least, are still working for me as a subject, but having been making images in Bower Woods for 17 years, I sincerely hope they have something left for me!

 

 

Even my oldest son, Thomas, said “You should do more abstract series. I like your nature stuff, but you have lots.”  I do love looking for abstracts and maybe that’s what I’ll go after for awhile for a change. Sorry for sounding negative! I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a large city, out at the coast, or in the state of Oregon. The variety of subjects at your, virtually, instant access, must be very freeing and enjoyable!

 

 

Hopefully this hasn’t been too much of a downer for a post. I’m just voicing my thoughts on my own photography and it is my blog after all. If anyone wants to add their thoughts, good or bad, I’m open to hear them. Just leave me a comment.

 

[ Pentax 645Z, Pentax-D FA 55mm AL SDM, Pentax-FA 120mm Macro ]

 

 

 

 

March 2, 2015

Snow Squall

Here in Red Deer today we have had some very strong winds and along with the wind came some very heavy snow squalls. They wouldn’t last more than five minutes each, but did it ever come down! I was out again today with my borrowed Pentax 645Z as I only get it until Wednesday morning, so it didn’t matter to me if it was cold and snowy out, I wanted to play with this machine. The camera is completely weatherproof, so there was no worries about it getting wet either, which makes working in these conditions so much easier. Just so long as no moisture gets on the front element you are good to go. Clicking on the image will make it a bit larger.

 

 

[ Pentax 645Z, Pentax-D FA 55mm f/2.8 AL SDM ]

 

 

June 9, 2014

Disintegrating Storm

Filed under: Black & White, Hi Res, Nature, Panorama, Panoramic, Sigma DP3 Merrill, Sigma DP3M, Skyscape, Storms — collin orthner @ 11:13 pm

Red Deer County, Alberta (click the image to embiggen it)

 

 

[ Sigma DP3 Merrill]

 

 

June 3, 2014

First Storm of ’14

Filed under: Agriculture, E-M5, Hand of Man, m4/3, Nature, Olympus Fisheye Body Cap Lens 9mm, Skyscape, Storms — collin orthner @ 10:11 pm

The storm was breaking up as the sun was setting last night, but it left a lot of rain and some hail in it’s wake. This image was made just S.E. of Red Deer at around 9:35pm. I had my first good chance to try the new Olympus Body Cap Fisheye 9mm f/8 lens. I must say it works rather nicely for this sort of image. I bent the horizon slightly in post to compensate for the barrel distortion the fisheye lens gives as I didn’t keep the horizon dead centre, but aimed the camera up slightly. The distortion is not as severe as I would get from the Rokinon 7.5mm. This tiny Olympus lens sees a mere 140° compared to the Rokinon’s 180° which may be why the distortion doesn’t seem so severe. Of course the Rokinon is easily the better lens, especially in the corners and it’s far faster, but being able to pop the Olympus lens in my shirt pocket for a “just in case” image makes it worth having in the arsenal. If I were shooting aurora or starlit nightscapes, it will be the 7.5mm Rokinon every time.

 

 

[ Olympus E-M5, Olympus Body Cap Fisheye 9mm f/8 ]

 

 

 

 

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