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Mountain sunset under heavy clouds

The last light of the sun setting behind rugged peaks shines below a sky of heavy clouds

Sun­set under heavy clouds

If you’ve signed up for my newslet­ter you’ll rec­og­nize these past few images that I’ve shared—this one is from a trip to Jasper Nation­al Park that I took this spring. I was lucky enough to dri­ve into the moun­tains just as the sun dipped below the clouds for a few min­utes before sink­ing behind the moun­tain peaks. I don’t recall my cam­era set­tings for this par­tic­u­lar image, but I was def­i­nite­ly think­ing of the gold­en rule for land­scape photography—“f/8 and be there”.

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Early spring dogwood colour

The last light as the sun sets catches a patch of red-osier dogwood behind several thin bare aspen saplings already in the evening shadow

Glow­ing dog­wood behind bare aspen saplings

Anoth­er sun­set pho­to­graph tak­en while doing owl sur­veys, this one was tak­en on a clear evening which made for less inter­est­ing skies as the pre­vi­ous night but allowed for more pre­dictably pro­gress­ing, steady light on the ground.

This time of year, my eyes ache for colour after the long win­ter and the red-osier dog­wood shrubs are often the first real glimpses of spring colour as they flush red in the very ear­ly spring—even before the snow has melt­ed. In this image, I like how the intense red of the wil­lows in the last, warm rays of sun­light con­trast with the cool blues of the aspen saplings that are already in the evening’s shad­ow.

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Fiery cirrus clouds at sunset

The days last sunlight illuminates high icy clouds behind a clean horizon of fresh snow

Fiery sun­set over snowy hori­zon

I’ve been out con­duct­ing noc­tur­nal owl sur­veys in south-cen­tral Alber­ta for the past few weeks, which has giv­en me the chance to take some great sun­set pho­tographs, and to try out pho­tograph­ing at night—lots of fun (but lots to learn too!)

This pho­to came after a whole day of cloud that final­ly broke at just the right time to allow the set­ting sun to peek through. If they coop­er­ate, a sky full of clouds sure makes for more inter­est­ing pho­tog­ra­phy than a “per­fect­ly” clear sky.

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Singing ice at Islet Lake

Cold early winter evening at Islet Lake

Cold ear­ly win­ter evening at Islet Lake

Last week I took my cam­era (and my daugh­ter) out to the Cook­ing Lake-Black­foot Nat­ur­al Area, about 30 min east of Edmon­ton, for an after­noon walk while the weath­er was still rel­a­tive­ly mild. There has been just a dust­ing of snow so far this year, so the ice on the lake was bare and exposed to the quick­ly cool­ing air. As the sun moved low­er in the sky and the tem­per­a­ture dropped the ice began to make ter­rif­ic heav­ing, groan­ing and boom­ing sounds. The fre­quen­cy increased until there was near­ly con­stant, resound­ing, echo­ing sound com­ing from the ice. Every­thing else was per­fect­ly still, and the singing of the ice was the per­fect back­ground music while I took this quick photograph–just as the last sun­light made the bare aspen on the far shore glow a warm orange-red, in con­trast to the cool blue of the shad­owed lake ice in the fore­ground.

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Spectacular sunset over Edmonton

Fiery altostratus sunset

Fiery alto­stra­tus sun­set

This after­noon I went out for a walk at the Cook­ing Lake-Black­foot Provin­cial Recre­ation Area. I spent sev­er­al hours hap­pi­ly walk­ing the Lost Lake/Islet Lake trails in unsea­son­ably warm weath­er, but with a flat, grey lay­er of drab alto­stra­tus cloud over­head. That is to say, there weren’t many good pho­to­graph­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties. As I was dri­ving home, how­ev­er, the sun snuck through a gap in the cloud just above the horizon–with stun­ning effect. I had to pull over to watch the–all too brief–colours spread across near­ly the whole sky, and of course, take some pho­tographs. I find this type of sky can be very hard to get a good expo­sure, where it’s not too dark but the high­lights (espe­cial­ly the yel­lows) aren’t blown out or over-sat­u­rat­ed, leav­ing detail-less areas with­in the wispy strands of cloud. I think this one turned out quite well, and I real­ly like how the pat­tern of the cloud could be eas­i­ly mis­tak­en for fire, which is just what the sky looked like for a few minutes–aflame. I hope you enjoy it too.

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