Stars over Cascade Mountain, Banff


Last Sunday night I was in Banff for a concert at the Banff Centre but ended the night with a round of nightscape shooting near the town.

I shot this from the Lake Minnewanka scenic loop road just north of the townsite. It captures the Big Dipper and Arcturus swinging down over Cascade Mountain, the iconic peak that stands as the background for so many photos of Banff. Moonlight provided ideal side-lighting.

I hope to head back to this area for next weekend’s Perseid meteor shower. The weather prospects look good!

— Alan, August 3, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

 

Circling Stars over Pyramid Mountain


The previous post showcased one image taken last Saturday night at Patricia Lake. This is a composite of 98 such frames, producing an image of stars circling the sky.

This is the motion of the northern sky over 75 minutes, as the Big Dipper and other circumpolar stars arc around the celestial pole, just off camera here. A few faint meteors streak at left. And the makings of an aurora appears at right.

Each exposure was 45 seconds long. I used a Photoshop Action to automatically select each frame in turn and stack it on top of the previous image, then change the blend mode to Lighten and flatten the layers. The end result of the computer crunching away is an image that recreates what we used to achieve with film, by stopping down the lens and exposing a slow ISO film for an hour or more onto one frame.

I last shot this same scene a decade ago with just that technique and Fuji Velvia film, a favourite of mine back then for star trails. But these days shooting multiple short exposures digitally provides the advantage of also netting a folder-full of images suitable for a time-lapse movie, something we could never do with film cameras, unless they were modified movie cameras. I like DSLRs better.

— Alan, August 1, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer