Sunset Panorama at Reesor Ranch


Sunset at Reesor Ranch Panorama #1 (July 11, 2013)

The setting Sun lights up a classic Canadian prairie skyscape. 

This was sunset last night, July 11, from the historic Reesor Ranch in southwest Saskatchewan, on the north edge of the Cypress Hills. The clouds opened up across the sky in a Chinook arch, with clearing to the west where the waxing Moon and Venus were also setting into the twilight.

It was a stunning scene looking out over the plains from the highlands of the hills.

I’m in the area for a week of shooting, weather permitting.

This shot is a 7-section panorama, stitched with Photoshop’s Photomerge command.

– Alan, July 12, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

 

 

Low Bow over Canola


Low Rainbow over Canola Field

A horizon-hugging rainbow shines over a blooming field of canola.

You don’t often see a rainbow like this. Just the top of the bow pokes above the horizon and a field of yellow canola.

The reason is the Sun’s altitude. When I shot this in late afternoon yesterday, July 4, the Sun was 40 degrees up in the northwest. That means the point opposite the Sun was 40 degrees below the horizon in the southeast. Rainbows are centred on this anti-solar point and are always 42 degrees in radius. So doing the math shows that only the top 2 degrees of the rainbow arc could be visible above the horizon, creating a rainbow chord. 

Double Rainbow over Canola Field

Later in the evening as another storm receded, a more classic bow appeared, this time as a double rainbow. With the Sun now much lower the anti-solar point was higher and more of the semi-circular bow appeared in the sky. I wish I could have shot a time-lapse of “rainbow rise” but downpours of rain prevented me from leaving the camera out.

These are neat examples of the play of light and colour in the open air. For lots more information, check out the wonderful Atmospheric Optics website.

– Alan, July 5, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

Aurora over a Prairie Lake


Aurora over Crawling Lake (June 30, 2013)

A brief display of Northern Lights shines over a prairie lake.

Last night I went out to a nearby lake (there aren’t many in southern Alberta!) to shoot the twilight over water, and hoping to catch some aurora or noctilucent clouds as well.

There was lots of twilight but very little sign of aurora or NLCs. But at about 1 am the aurora kicked up briefly, enough to make a good photo but certainly nothing to get excited about for its visual appearance. It was just visible.

Shooting at Crawling Lake, June 30, 2013

However, it was a fine evening of shooting at a quiet prairie lake. Crawling Lake is one of several reservoirs in the area that are part of the extensive irrigation system in southern Alberta. Despite the recent floods, this area is usually dry and drought-sticken.

Capella in Twilight (June 30, 2013)

This shot, which I took early in the evening, shows the lone star of Capella, shining in the twilight of a solstice summer sky. From my latitude of 51° N, Capella, normally considered a winter star, is circumpolar. It never sets and so can be seen skimming along the northern horizon on short summer nights.

Star in Twilight over Crawling Lake (June 30, 2013)

An ultra-wide view shows the perpetual twilight of summer to the north, with the circumpolar  stars of summer above. A campfire from some late-arriving campers is on the shore at right.

Happy Canada Day!

– Alan, July 1, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

 

Thunderstorm in the Moonlight


Thunderstorm in Moonlight (June 25, 2013)

A thunderstorm rolls across the northern horizon with the stars of Cassiopeia and Andromeda rising.

This was a perfect night for storm shooting. The storm was far enough away to not engulf me in rain and wind, but close enough to show detail and reveal its bolts of lightning. A waning gibbous Moon shone in the south lighting up the storm clouds to the north and turning the sky blue.

Meanwhile the stars of Cassiopeia, Perseus and Andromeda were rising behind the storm clouds, a nice contrast of Earth and sky.

I’ve been after a confluence of circumstances like this for a few years. An aurora to the northeast would have been nice as well. But you can’t have everything!

– Alan, June 25, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

Bow River Returning to Normal


Calgary Skyline Panorama

The raging waters of the Bow are subsiding leaving a city to clean up the mess.

This was the scene Tuesday night, June 25, in a panorama I took from a favourite spot overlooking the skyline of Calgary, a place where many news reports emanated from over the weekend.

It is amazing how fast the floodwaters have retreated. The Bow River is still very high and swift, and some parts of the valley are still under water, but the river is quickly returning to its normal channels and size.

Tonight, people were walking and hiking along paths and bridges that three days ago were underwater or closed to all traffic. Indeed, much of what is below me in this photo, including Memorial Drive, was covered with water. Riverside neighbourhoods that were lakes are now streets again, though lined with houses soaked and damaged. Construction crews work to shore up badly eroded banks. The floods have certainly changed the riverbed of the Bow.

And still, in the sky storms and rain continue to threaten. It will be months, if not years, before everything returns to a new normal.

– Alan, June 25, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

 

Supermoon over Bow River Floods


Supermoon Rise over Floodwaters of Bow River (June 23, 2013)

The supermoon of solstice rises over the floodwaters of the raging Bow River.

The peace of the sky contrasts with the destruction being wrought below on Earth. The Bow River is many times wider than normal and has flooded most of the valley, ruining homes and lives.

This view overlooks the Bow River in the area of Blackfoot Crossing, where I was this afternoon shooting daytime panoramas in the previous blog. I returned this evening to catch the Full Moon as it came up in twilight over the floodwaters.

Supermoon Rise over Floodwaters of Bow River #2 (June 23, 2013)

The rosy Moon contrasts with the deep blue of twilight and Earth’s shadow rising, fringed above by the pink “belt of Venus” effect, visible in the wide-angle shot.

Nearby, people were camped on the hill, refugees from their homes in the valley below now surrounded by water. Fortunately the waters are receding.

– Alan, June 23, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

 

 

 

Floodwaters at Bow River Crossing


SIksika Nation and Bow River Flood Panorama #3

This is not a picture of the amazing sky but a document of what the sky can do when it decides to be merciless.

No one has seen anything like this in living memory, with homes under water and the river swollen to a lake engulfing the Bow River Valley.

These panoramas depict the heart of the Siksika First Nation, part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. It was in this valley, where the Blackfoot had traditionally held their summer camps, that Treaty 7 was signed in 1877 between Chief Crowfoot and James Macleod of the NWMP. The history of the area is presented at the beautiful Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park interpretive centre, shown in the image below. We’ve held several popular public stargazing sessions there. It was closed today, ironically due to a lack of safe water.

SIksika Nation and Bow River Flood Panorama #1

It was here at this spot in the Bow River Valley that nomadic hunters could easily cross the river. Up to this weekend a bridge, seen in the distance in the image below, had allowed modern travellers to make the crossing. But no more. The bridge is closed and may never reopen, until it is rebuilt. Today, water was roaring just below the bridge deck. And waters have receded in the last 24 hours.

SIksika Nation and Bow River Flood Panorama #2

There is some fear that a ferry downstream, the Crowfoot Ferry, one of the last river ferries in Alberta, might break loose and crash into the Bassano Dam.

Dozens of homes are underwater and hundreds of people displaced to evacuation shelters. The water came up so fast many people had just minutes to get out.

SIksika Nation and Bow River Flood Panorama #4

Those I spoke to today, including one 68-year-old resident, said they have never seen the Bow flood as bad as this. The high waters, having breached the Carseland Dam upstream from here, are now heading downstream to fill the Bassano Dam and flood the lower Bow and South Saskatchewan River through Medicine Hat. As those upstream clean up, those downstream prepare for the onslaught of water.

– Alan, June 23, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer