The sky presents a panoramic show from Pyramid Island in Jasper National Park.
What a wonderful place to watch the stars. Last night I walked out to Pyramid Island in Jasper, via the historic boardwalk built in the 1930s. The site provides a panorama view around the lake and sky.
To the left is the “mainland.” Just left of centre the waxing gibbous Moon is setting over Pyramid Lake.
To the right of centre, the boardwalk leads out the small island, with Pyramid Mountain behind it.
To the right of the frame, a faint aurora glows to the northeast over the still waters of the lake.
This is a 360° panorama shot with the 15mm full-frame fish-eye lens in portrait orientation, with the segments stitched with PTGui software.
After shooting some panoramas I walked to the end of the island and shot this view looking north and northwest to Pyramid Mountain. The Big Dipper is to the right of the peak, and the aurora lights up the northern horizon at right.
As I shot these images, the night was absolutely quiet. Until the wolves began to howl at the north end of the lake, in mournful howls that echoed across the waters.
It was one of the most spine-chilling moments I’ve experienced in many years of shooting landscapes at night.
– Alan, September 5, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer
The Big Dipper shines through clouds over Pyramid Mountain in Jasper National Park.
This week I am in Jasper National Park for a shoot of moonlit nightscapes, weather permitting.
It barely permitted last night, as clouds cleared briefly to the north. I visited a favourite spot on the shore of Patricia Lake, with Pyramid Mountain as a backdrop to the north.
The sky was still lit by the setting Moon, and by some faint aurora. The landscape is lit by starlight.
With luck I’ll get more images of Jasper by night this week, in one of Canada’s largest Dark Sky Preserves.
– Alan, September 2, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer
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
Pyramid Mountain is Jasper’s iconic peak dominating the skyline of the mountain town in Alberta. The mountain and its foreground lakes are ideally placed for nightscapes of the northern sky.
I took this shot Saturday night, July 28, from the shore of Patricia Lake, one of several that dot the benchlands south of Pyramid Mountain. Small lakes like Patricia have the benefit of often being calm and reflective. Here the stars of the Big Dipper and Ursa Major swing over top of Pyramid Mountain, in the blue moonlit sky. A few well-placed clouds add a welcome perspective. This is one frame of 150 or so in a time-lapse sequence, and that will eventually become a star trail composite as well. But this single frame stands well all on its own.
The last time I was here shooting this same scene I was using Ektachrome and Fujichrome film (each had its unique characteristics, though just what I can’t recall!). That was more than a decade ago. This digital shot with the Canon 7D looks far better than what I got back then.
— Alan, July 30, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer