The sky presented a pyrotechnic display of light and colour in the sunset sky.
What a show tonight, July 18, as a thunderstorm lit the sky with bolts of lightning. As the storm retreated, the Sun broke through, ideal lighting for a rainbow. In this case I was able to capture the rainbow pierced by bolts of lightning. See below for tech details.
A little later, the sunlight got stronger and the rainbow grew to span the sky, in a beautiful display of a double rainbow lit by the red light of the setting Sun.
As the beams of sunlight lit the clouds, it looked like the rainbow was on fire.
It has been a stormy start to summer in Alberta, but at times the sky has put on a stunning show. That was certainly the case tonight.
Technical on the Lightning and Rainbow shot at top:
This is a stack of 35 consecutive video frames taken with HD (1920 x 1080) resolution at 30 frames per second with the Canon 6D, and extracted as an image sequence with Photoshop, then processed in Adobe Camera Raw, then stacked with Russell Brown’s Stack-A-Matic into a smart object with maximum stack mode, to accumulate the frames taken over about 1 second into one still frame.
So I could have got this with a single 1-second exposure with the lens stopped way down and a ND filter, but my timing would have had to have been very, very lucky!
Aurora watchers were on alert! Look up after sunset on June 22 and the sky should be alive with dancing lights.
And the predictions were right.
I headed out to a nearby lake in preparation for seeing and shooting the show. And as soon as the sky got dark enough the Lights were there, despite the bright solstice twilight.
The display reached up to the zenith, as seen in my fish-eye images, like the one below. I shot with three cameras, all shooting time-lapses, with the fish-eye camera recording the scene suitable for projection in a digital planetarium.
However, it was apparent we here in western Canada were seeing the end of the display that had been going on for hours during an intense geomagnetic storm. The aurora was most intense early in the evening, with a minor outburst about 11:30 to 11:45 pm MDT.
The aurora then subsided in structure and turned into a more chaotic pulsating display, typical of the end of a sub-storm.
However, an attraction of this display was its juxtaposition over another storm, an earthly one, flashing lightning to the northwest of me.
By 1 a.m. MDT the display, while still widespread over a large area of the northern sky, had turned into a diffuse glow.
But 60 gigabytes of images later, I headed home. The time-lapse compilation will come later!
The three brightest objects in the night sky gathered into a tidy triangle in the twilight.
On Friday night, June 19, I chased around my area of southern Alberta, seeking clear skies to capture the grouping of the waxing crescent Moon with Venus and Jupiter.
My first choice was the Crawling Valley reservoir and lake, to capture the scene over the water. I got there in time to get into position on the east side of the lake, and grab some shots.
This was the result, but note the clouds! They were moving in quickly and soon formed a dramatic storm front. By the time I got back to the car and changed lenses, I was just able to grab the panorama below before the clouds engulfed the sky, and the winds were telling me to leave!
I drove west toward home, taking a new highway and route back, and finding myself back into clear skies, as the storm headed east. I stopped by the only interesting foreground element I could find to make a composition, the fence, and grabbed the lead photo.
Both it, and the second image, are “HDR” stacks of five exposures, to preserve detail in the dark foreground and bright sky.
It was a productive evening under the big sky of the prairies.
On the eve of summer solstice the sky was filled with an amazing light show.
Living on the great plains of southern Alberta gives me access to the big sky right outside my door. On summer nights, the entertainment is often watching thunderstorms roll across the northern horizon down “hailstorm alley” to the north of me.
That was the case on Friday night, the eve of summer solstice. What a photogenic storm this was! Lightning lit up the roiling cloud from within and, as below, shot out in an escape path toward the ground.
Despite the midnight hour, the sky is blue with the glow of perpetual twilight at this time of year at 51° north.
As this storm receded, another rolled in, this time directed at my area. Lightning flashed all around (it was too rainy to shoot).
As I was processing these shots, the power flickered, then went off, as a bolt hit someplace critical to the power system. In the country it doesn’t take much to knock out the power to outlying areas. Mine was out for another 14 hours. Thank goodness for laptop batteries!
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!
A stunning storm cloud retreats across the prairies leaving clear skies in its wake.
The timing could not have been better. On Monday night, June 17, a thunderstorm retreated to the east at just the perfect time to catch the light of the setting Sun.
As these prairie storms often do, this one left behind clear skies, with a quarter Moon at right to the south and the Sun to the west, off frame but illuminating this amazingly sculpted cloud. Downdrafts in the thunderhead produced the mammatus clouds – the bulbous structures hanging from the thundercloud. The low Sun angle emphasizes their form.
We’ve had a lot of rain and storms lately, but when a storm puts on as fine a show as this one, I’ll take it!
This image is a 3-segment panorama using the Canon 5D MkII and 16-35mm lens at 16mm. I used Photoshop’s Photomerge and Adaptive Wide Angle filter to stitch and straighten the image.