The annual Dark Sky Festival in Jasper National Park ended with the best finale – dark skies, on a beautiful star-filled night.
On Saturday night, October 22, I left the final set of science talks in the Big Tent at the heart of the Festival and headed out down the Icefields Parkway for a night of shooting Jasper by starlight.
The lead image is of the winter stars, including the Pleiades, rising above Mt. Kerkeslin at Athabasca Falls.
I shot the image above moments later, from the usual viewpoint overlooking the Falls, reduced to a trickle in late autumn. Illumination is solely by starlight – no artificial and glaring light painting here.
Earlier in the night, I stopped at the Athabasca River Viewpoint and shot the autumn stars of Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and Perseus above Mt. Kerkeslin. The Pleiades are just appearing above the mountain ridge.
From that viewpoint I shot a scene looking south over the river and with the stars of Capricornus and Aquarius above the Divide.
At the start of the night I stopped at the viewpoint for Athabasca Pass far in the distance. The summer Milky Way was setting over the pass. This historic pass was used by David Thompson in the late 1700s and early 1800s as his route into B.C. to extend the fur trade across the Divide. Thompson writes in his Journal about one particularly clear night on the pass:
“My men were not at their ease, yet when night came they admired the brilliancy of the Stars, and as one of them said, he thought he could almost touch them with his hand.”
The night ended with a display of Northern Lights over the Athabasca River. What a superb night under the stars in Jasper!
As a finale, here’s a music video collecting together still images and time-lapse movies shot this night, and on two other nights during the Dark Sky Festival, including at the big Lake Annette “Beyond the Stars” star party I spoke at.
As usual, enlarge to full screen and go to HD for the best view.
My new 4-minute video presents time-lapse and still images shot in the Rockies this past summer.
It’s been a busy summer for shooting. Since July I’ve spent a week each in Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes National Parks shooting nightscape stills and time-lapse videos of Alberta’s famous Rocky Mountain landscapes by night.
This compilation includes some of the best footage, plus some panned still images, set to a wonderful piece of royalty-free (i.e. legal!) music by Adi Goldstein.
For many of the sequences I employed “motion control” (MoCo) devices that incrementally move the cameras during the one to three hours that they are taking the 200 to 450 frames needed for a time-lapse sequence.
I used the compact single-axis Radian, the 2-axis eMotimo, and the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly, now equipped with their new Stage R single-axis panning unit. This was the first summer with the eMotimo and Stage R, so I’m still learning their best settings for speed, angles, and ramping rates.
In recent blogs you’ve seen many still images shot as part of these sequences, or with other cameras dedicated to shooting stills. Now you get to see some of the time-lapse videos that represent many nights of shooting, and many hours sitting in the car waiting for the automated camera gear to finish its shooting task.
Time-lapse shooting is an exercise in dedication and self-denial!
I hope you enjoy the result. Do click on the Enlarge button to go full-screen. Or visit my Vimeo site to watch the video, and others, there.
The autumn stars rise in trails over Athabasca Falls and Mt. Kerkeslin in Jasper National Park.
Last night was a good one for shooting nightscapes in Jasper. Skies cleared for a beautiful moonlit night, ideal for nightscape shooting.
I went to Athabasca Falls, a popular scenic attraction in Jasper but deserted after dark. I set up cameras at the usual overlook, shooting both a time-lapse and star trail set.
The main image above is the result of stacking 100 images in the star trail set. I used the Advanced Stacker Plus actions from Star Circle Academy.
The foreground comes from one image, shot early in the sequence when the Moon lit more of the landscape. The Falls themselves remained in shadow, as I had expected from my lighting angle calculation and knowing the site.
The star trail image shows the autumn stars of Andromeda, Cassiopeia ad Perseus rising over Mt. Kerkeslin, the famous backdrop to Athabasca Falls on the Athabasca River, making its way to the Arctic Ocean
This image is a 4-segment panorama I shot earlier in the evening in the twilight, with the waxing Moon over the Athabasca River.
In the early 1800s, after explorer, astronomer, and fur trader David Thompson had to abandon his original route over the Rockies at Howse Pass, he came north, and followed the Athabasca and Whirlpool Rivers up over the Athabasca Pass, his new main route to the B.C. interior.
Athabasca Falls is one of the most popular and photographed attractions in Jasper National Park – by day. But by night, the falls on the Athabasca River are deserted.
In the distance, the stars rise behind Mount Kerkeslin. In the foreground, the river plunges into a deep gorge. These waters, with headwaters at the Columbia Glacier in the Icefields to the south, eventually make their way north to the Arctic Ocean.
I was at the Falls last Friday night, to shoot them by moonlight and under the stars. But in this case, I provided added foreground illumination from a flashlight.
As I took this and other shots, flashes of lightning from nearby thunderstorms occasionally lit the night. I had a couple of hours of clear skies before clouds moved in for the night, enough time to get frames for a time-lapse movie and some still frames like this one.