Banff by Night


Milky Way Reflections at Bow Lake

Three perfect nights in July provided opportunities to capture the night sky at popular sites in Banff National Park.

When the weather forecast in mid-July looked so promising I made an impromptu trip to Banff to shoot nightscapes and time-lapses under unusually clear skies. Clouds are often the norm in the mountains or, increasingly these days, forest fire smoke in late summer.

But from July 15 to 17 the skies could not have been clearer, except for the clouds that rolled in late on my last night, when I was happy to pack up and get some sleep.

Conjunction over the Continental Divide with Train

My first priority was to shoot the marvellous close conjunction of the Moon and Venus on July 15. I did so from the Storm Mountain viewpoint on the Bow Valley Parkway, with a cooperative train also coming through the scene at the right time.

The Milky Way and Mars over Storm Mountain

This was the view later with the Milky Way and Mars over Bow Valley and Storm Mountain.

Bow Lake by Night Panorama

The next night, July 16, was one of the most perfect I had ever seen in the Rockies. Crystal clear skies, calm winds, and great lake reflections made for a picture-perfect night at Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway. Above is a 360° panorama shot toward the end of the night when the galactic centre of the Milky Way was over Bow Glacier.

Streaks of green airglow arc across the south, while to the north the sky is purple from a faint display of aurora.

Earlier that night the usual auroral arc known as Steve put in an unexpected appearance. It was just a grey band to the eye, but the camera picked up Steve’s usual pink colours. Another photographer from the U.S. who showed up had no idea there was an aurora happening until I pointed it out.

Mars and the Milky Way at Herbert Lake

My last night was at Herbert Lake, a small pond great for capturing reflections of the mountains around Lake Louise, and the Milky Way. Here, brilliant Mars, so photogenic this summer, also reflects in the still waters.

At each site I shot time-lapses, and used those frames to have some fun with star trail stacking, showing the stars turning from east to west and reflected in the lake waters, and with a single still image taken at the end of the sequence layered in to show the untrailed sky and Milky Way.

But I also turned those frames into time-lapse movies, and incorporated them into a new music video, along with some favourite older clips reprocessed for this new video.

Banff by Night (4K) from Alan Dyer on Vimeo.

Enjoy! And do enlarge to full screen. The video is also in 4K resolution.

Clear skies!

— Alan, August 2, 2018 / © 2018 Alan Dyer / AmazingSky.com

 

Super Moonrise at Bow Lake


Full Moon and Flowers at Bow Lake

The nearly Full Moon rises over Bow Lake, Banff then lights up the landscape.

Saturday night was a stunning night to shoot nightscapes in Banff. Skies were mostly clear, allowing the nearly Full Moon, a day before the much-hyped “SuperMoon,” to light the landscapes.

I began last night’s shoot at Bow Lake looking south toward the rising Moon over the mountain fireweed flowers.

Twilight at Bow Lake

Shooting the other way toward Bow Glacier reveals this moonlit scene, in a frame I shot as part of the set up for a time-lapse movie. I had three cameras going, each shooting about 350 frames. The computer is processing them as I type. Still-image “nightscapes” like these are so much easier!

When I arrived I thought I wouldn’t be surprised to find other time-lapsers present, at such a great spot on a perfect night.

Sure enough, Shane Black from Ohio was setting up for a twilight shoot with much the same gear I use – a Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly system and eMotimo 2-axis motion controller. I was able to help Shane out by supplying a battery to power the rig when his was dying. Glad to help a fellow time-lapser! Good luck on the rest of your cross-country tour

– Alan, August 10, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

 

Star Trail Reflections at Bow Lake, Banff


It’s rare to get such a clear night in the mountains, but last weekend, July 6-7, provided a couple of ideal nights.

This image combines about 180 exposures, each 45 seconds long, stacked to create a single image of long star trails setting into the west behind Bow Glacier in Banff. The result records the sky’s motion over nearly two and a half hours. Running at right angles across the descending stars are vertical streaks from a bright meteor (left) and a satellite (top, centre).

Light from the rising waning Moon provides the illumination.

— Alan, July 16, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Circling Star Trails in the Rockies


Let the camera shoot for a few hours and this is what you get: stars circling the sky, turning into concentric paths around the North Star.

For this image I stacked 230 short exposures, each 50 seconds long, taken over about 4 hours time on July 7/8. My previous blog entry is one of those individual frames. But in this composite, the stars become trails rotating about the pole of the sky, near Polaris, the North Star, here over Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake in Banff. Moonlight provides the illumination and turns the sky blue, just as in daytime, only much dimmer. But the long exposures bring out the colours and make the scene look like daylight, because the light of the Moon is daylight, just reflected first off the Moon’s neutral grey face.

The same frames used to make this still frame composite can also be used to make a time-lapse movie of the circumpolar stars turning.

— Alan, July 14, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Bow Lake by Moonlight (2012)


What a fabulous night this was — perfectly clear and the gibbous moon lighting up the mountains. It was a wonderland for nightscape photography.

I took this shot late on Friday, July 6 at Bow Lake in Banff, Alberta. The summer stars shine behind Bow Glacier, and the peaks are illuminated by the rising waning Moon. Saturn, setting behind the continental divide, is reflected in the still waters while Arcturus shines high in the sky.

This is one frame of 320 I took through the night for a time-lapse movie, and for stacking into a long star-trail composite. Those are still to come!

Compare this to the scene I took last summer under a dimmer quarter Moon and later in the season.

— Alan, July 8, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Bow Lake by Moonlight (The Movie)


Here is the time-lapse movie I took last Saturday night, August 20, on a perfect night at Bow Lake in Banff, Alberta.

The sequence starts in bright twilight then darkens to full night with the Milky Way over the  mountain silhouettes. The peaks then light up as they catch the light of the rising last quarter Moon coming up about 11:30 pm in the east. The moonlight creeps down the mountains to light up the entire valley and the lake. The sky brightens to deep blue again. The sequence ends about 3:30 am.

There was hardly a cloud in the sky all night, unusual for locations near the large icefields that straddle the continental divide.

I assembled the movie from 454 frames, each 40 seconds in exposure time, and taken 1 second apart.

— Alan, August 24, 2011 / Movie © 2011 Alan Dyer

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