Trails of Orion Over Fairview


I love the lighting in this shot from Saturday night. I took this by standing out on Lake Louise, from a spot you couldn’t be in summer without getting wet!

Moonlight grazes the east and north slopes of Mount Fairview, while spill from a skating rink flood lamp lights the trees. The sky is deep blue from moonlight making this look like a day scene.

But this is actually a 4-minute exposure, purposely long to allow the stars of Orion and the bright star Sirius at left to trail across the heavens over Fairview.

Unlike most nightscape shots, of necessity taken at high ISO speeds to grab lots of light in a short exposure, I took this shot at ISO 100. Even with the blog’s low resolution images, I think you can see the difference here – this slow-speed shot looks richer and smoother, lacking the fine noise that is inevitable in high ISO shots. It’s just like using slow speed film – in the old days I’d always carry two types of film for trips like this: slow Velvia 50 for long star trail shots, and fast Fuji or Ektachrome 400 for the untrailed nightscapes. I always loved the Velvia shots – they were indeed like smooth velvet.

Now with digital cameras you can switch settings as you like. And see the results instantly. How did we ever manage to get any results with film?

— Alan, February 6, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Lake Louise by Moonlight – in Winter


Moments before taking the photo featured in the previous blog I captured this scene, from the footbridge over Louise Creek flowing out of Lake Louise.

This is one of the world’s great photo spots, but here the scene is lit by moonlight and by the Chateau’s and skating rink lights. Jupiter is the bright object above Mt. St. Piran at right.

This was a magical night. Just step away from the artificial lights, let your eyes adjust and a stunning nightscape appeared. Compare this scene to the one I shot from a few steps away but in August and featured in my blog Lake Louise by Moonlight. The blue glacial waters of the summer scene are here replaced by snow and ice.

— Alan, February 5, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Orion Over the Cozy Cabin


Here’s a picture postcard winter scene, one that thousands of people walk by each day — by day.

This is the Swiss guide cabin at Lake Louise, but seen at night. Light from the Moon just off the frame at top illuminates the scene, while Orion stands in the sky over the cabin and Mount Fairview.

I took this shot Saturday night, February 4, 2012, as one of many shots that night at Lake Louise, under crystal clear skies. It was a winter wonderland and a night photographer’s paradise.

Nightscape shots like this are surprisingly easy to take — typically being 20 to 40 seconds at f/2 to f/4 and ISO 400 to 800 with a good DSLR. The exact settings depend on how bright the Moon is. I used the Canon 5D MkII and 24mm Canon lens, a fine combination for night shooting.

— Alan, February 5, 2012 / © @2012  Alan Dyer