Bow Lake By Moonlight


This was a truly magical scene — the Milky Way over Bow Glacier, and mountains lit by moonlight and reflected in the waters of Bow Lake.

Last Saturday night, August 20, 2011, brought some of the clearest skies I’ve seen in the Rockies. To take advantage of them, I headed to Bow Lake, in Banff, a favourite and very photogenic location for day and nighttime shooting. I hadn’t been there at night since the film days, pre-2004.

This shot is one of 450 frames taken as part of a time-lapse sequence, showing the Milky Way moving over Bow Lake. Here, at about 2 a.m. the light from the rising last quarter Moon is illuminating the peaks, and the Milky Way is perfectly placed over the end of Bow Lake and Bow Glacier, source of the waters of the Bow River and what Calgarians drink!

The sky is blue from moonlight. Last quarter moons are wonderful for nightscapes — providing enough light to illuminate the landscape but not so much as to wash out the sky and Milky Way. But making use of that phase of the Moon means very late nights of shooting. I packed it in this night at 4 a.m.

— Alan, August 22, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer