When the early winter ice first forms across the lakes of Kananaskis, it has to fight against Chinook winds that raise the temperature and break open larger areas repeatedly. During these first few weeks of change calm pools form in the space between ice sheets and provide perfect mirror surfaces.
Whilst instructing yesterday I came across two beautiful examples of these pools close to the isthmus dam on Upper Kananaskis Lake. The first (shown below) had a strong leading line sweeping across the frame and pulling us out toward Mt Indefatigable. The 14 mm lens ensured I was able to capture the foreground and still leave enough open space above the mountain to make the image you see below. I also shot a portrait image of the same scene which came out very well.
After making this image we moved on around the lakeshore until reaching another pool where a change of lens to the 16 - 35 mm allowed me to reach out over the cluttered foreground to capture a much cleaner, symmetrical shot of the same mountain which I have added to my portfolio.
It's always nice to find a portfolio addition, I've also deleted a couple of shots just to keep things fresh and to force myself to maintain a good standard of image in the portfolio.
As a photographer I love an opportunity to test myself, to capture something rarely seen or rarely occurring. After all isn't that what we all started out to do, to capture and keep those wonderful moments that life provides as we stumble along our own pathway through it. So it will be no surprise to see I made an effort at capturing the transit of Mercury today.
Our sun doesn't rise early enough at this time of year to capture a 'start - middle - end' sequence, so the transit was already well underway when we got our view of it. I'm not sure it really matters so much as the images are not something to pour over, but it is a great memory to capture.
I already had a solar filter from my 2017 eclipse shoot so why not put it to use. I set up my 100 - 400 mm lens with a 2x extender on it giving me 800 mm, then I set aside the 5d and used the 7d mkII to take advantage of the crop sensor providing an additional 0.6 multiplier which gave me an overall lens equivalent of 1280 mm. I struggled with thin cloud and haze between me and the target but still managed to capture a few reasonable shots of the event.
So, my image today is not the usual fare, it's another planet speeding past, approximately 75 million km away from earth. The background is a spectacular star made of hot plasma 150 million km away. It shows the scale of the sun when you realise that Mercury is 5000 km in diameter and the sun is twice as far away, what a spectacular place we live in, and what wonders it provides.
I have always been one to plan a shoot when possible, sunrise in particular requires some additional effort to ensure you don't crawl out of bed at the crack of dawn for nothing. Having said that we all have some planned locations in our heads just waiting for the right conditions. That is what happened to me last week when I awoke very early and decided to take advantage of the situation by capturing the sunrise.
For some time I have envisioned a sunrise shot of a lake about 90 minutes from home, it has a long wooden jetty and a bird hide at the end which would make a nice foreground and leading line. It's in the middle of the prairie with no obstructions to the glorious red/orange light of dawn and would provide the obvious reflection that completes the image.
So, bags packed and away I go, picking my way through ice covered roads in absolute darkness. I'm already imagining a shot of the stars and potentially the milky way as the clear skies twinkle overhead. When I reach the gated entrance to the dirt road that leads to my chosen location, it's locked, I had made absolutely no plans for this.
I failed to check if the lake had seasonal opening, I failed to check for a secondary shoot location 'just in case' and I failed to allow enough time to find a second location. As I stood in the darkness looking around I wasn't hopeful and seriously considered driving home empty handed, but that's a long way for nothing.
I opted to continue driving east in the hope of finding something to shoot. I know little of the area and as I drove along searching I saw the colour appearing on the horizon, I had to find something. Suddenly I came across a dirt road off the main highway with a long view of a tree lined driveway, it's not much but it's something. So, as the sun rose and the morning light filled the prairie skies I set up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with the 70 -200 mm and fired off a few frames.
I knew it wasn't a great image, and I knew the framing was 'off' but I had resigned myself to the task rather than miss the light entirely. It was, as it always is, fantastic to be out watching the sunrise and though I didn't make much of an image I did make something so decided to share it.
Lesson learned you might think, but we all know I'll be making this mistake again at some point in the future.
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