We managed to get another aurora through the clouds tonight so I thought I would make a short video of it using about 30 frames repeated to provide a 3 second stop motion video.
Sarah and I both stood out on the lawn for about 20 minutes to share this lovely event then, as the aurora melted away, I stayed out for a little longer shooting the milky way. It was really nice to share an aurora with Sarah as she is (more often than not) in bed sleeping when it begins. Tonight she had just gone to bed so I had time to tell her it was happening and see if she wanted to get up, I'm glad she did as it's always much better sharing this wonderful phenomena 'live' than recounting the event the next day.
Just a few shots from the usual riverwalk trail today and a cloudy sunset to serve as the main image. There are also a couple of shots of Sarahs 'pet' squirrel tackling the peanut circle I made using a wire coat hanger, he seems to like it.
The colour has really dropped out of all of the foliage now and little remains to brighten the shots. Temperatures are dropping to freezing most nights and rising to 10 or 15C during the day as we head toward winter.
The aurora returned with a vengeance last night fighting it's way through the low hazy cloud that refused to budge. Down in the bow river valley the mist was rising as air temperatures dipped to generate a hard frost across the landscape.
I stood outside in jogging pants, T-shirt and flip flops checking my settings and trying to capture the incredible light spires that reached toward the stars. At 1am I thought "I really should go get a coat and some boots on", but it's almost impossible to leave such a sight as the sprite like bursts dance across the horizon, they are fleeting and you just don't want to miss any. Ultimately the cold won out and I ran in and grabbed my jacket and winter boots before returning to the show. By 2am the cloud was ruining things altogether and I gave up and went to bed to put my cold feet on Sarah and laugh about it.
One of the best things about a Canadian winter is the more frequent aurora sightings due to longer and darker nights and no matter how many times it occurs I'll be out there watching again.
My first trip to the mountains since returning from Chicago was a 'sunrise workshop' in Kananaskis. I was hoping to show Cecil the beauty of the morning sun bouncing off Mt Kidd and reflecting in the calm water of The Wedge Pond below. Everything looked perfect as the sky began to change from blue to red and the summit of Mt Kidd was highlighted in a deep crimson. There was a bonus of a few clouds catching the light too but then, almost as fast as it began, it died away without reaching it's potential. It's a shame, but if we got the perfect shot every time we went out we would soon run out of places to go.
We satisfied ourselves by making the best of what we had and shooting some of the detail in the remnants of autumn colours along the waterside. I really enjoyed it and will be trying again when conditions predict a better outcome. We stopped at 'Humptys' diner on the way home and Cecil bought breakfast as we quickly passed an hour discussing set up, graduated ND filters and all things photography.
Regular readers will know that we have recently got back from a great road trip to Chicago Illinois. As usual I've been pouring through our memories and sorting them into a logical order for posting, that's now done and you can see the full Chicago trip by clicking here and as always, there will be a permanent link to it from our Canada page. The Chicago page has 200 images and accompanying text so you might want to grab a cuppa before you start.
The image below is of the Chicago skyline from the Willis Tower to Navy Pier, the big blue glow on the left is the aquarium, and the narrow sliver of light on the far right is the Big Wheel on Navy Pier (about 2 miles between the two) it's a fantastic colourful skyline and really great to shoot at night from the waterside at the planetarium.
I managed to dodge the rain today by heading northwest to St Cloud, Minnesota. I arrived in good time after an early start so was able to walk round a couple of local parks. I looked through a few different parks to find a sunset location and came across this weir on the mississippi river at the aptly named 'riverside park'. A neutral density filter allowed me to make a long exposure and blur the water to a smooth glide which reflected the sunset nicely. After sunset I drove into the downtown area for a few shots in the blue hour before heading back to the hotel to determine a direction for tomorrow. The main shot is the weir on the mississippi and the gallery has captions for the locations.
We had a half day left to enjoy Chicago today so we spent it walking along the river to the harbour where we had a coffee and sat watching the world go by in beautiful morning sunshine. We returned to the hotel and packed our bags and went to O'Hare airport where we sat together until Sarah could check in for her flight. Once Sarah was heading into the security checkpoint I caught the tram to the long term parking and picked up my truck (I had left it at O'Hare as it is $10 per day versus $60 per day in downtown Chicago). I made a short drive north on I 94 to Milwaukee Wisconsin just to get the journey home started then stopped at a dodgy hotel for the night. I had a quick look around the riverfront and lakeshore at Milwaukee before calling it a night...still not sure where I'll be heading tomorrow. The main image below shows the lakeshore at Milwaukee (the dark blobs are geese) the small gallery has captions.
Suddenly the week is over and it's our last night in Chicago, we have had such a great time together this week. We started by exploring the wonderful riverwalk and all the bridges, cafes and bars along it. We walked down to Navy Pier a few times and took advantage of the river taxi to get back up to the city centre for our hotel. We've shopped till we dropped on the magnificent mile and found some lovely things for Sarahs birthday before going out to a very nice restaurant for a celebration dinner in the evening. We made the ascent of both the Willis Tower and Chicago 360 for the views from either side of downtown. We walked to the planetarium and then rented bikes to ride back to the city, we rented bikes again to go to the beach and to ride miles along the lakeside trail beside lake michigan. We visited all of the parks and recreations areas we could including the millennium park and the famous 'coffee bean' sculpture. Sarah stayed in the hotel one evening when I cycled back to the planetarium to shoot the Chicago skyline but other than that one time, she walked, cycled and rode every mile with me. We've paddled in the lake on Oak Beach and walked the piers at North Avenue Beach and walked miles and miles on the lakefront and riverfront trails. We sat in shade from the constant sunshine at the pavilion at 12th street beach and ate in different venues every night. It has been a fantastic week and a great birthday for Sarah.
Tomorrow Sarah will fly back in the late afternoon and I will make the 2 hour drive to Milwaukee Wisconsin to begin my journey home, I still haven't decided which way I'll go from Milwaukee but I think I'll just make it up as I go along.
I only had a short 2 hour hop on the interstate this morning to reach Chicago in time to meet Sarah at O'hare airport. Everything went as planned and we were soon sharing a taxi to downtown Chicago. After settling into the hotel we walked the riverfront for a couple of hours and had dinner on Navy Pier in the sweltering temperatures, we then walked back along the riverfront to the hotel to escape the heat and get an early night.
I'll make another post from Chicago later in the week when we've had a good look around, in the meantime here's a short gallery of the riverwalk and Navy Pier, there are no captions but I'll put in more effort into the next post.
I left Fargo this morning with a 7.5 hour interstate drive ahead of me, it was part of the plan to make up for the dawdling across the prairies, but still not the most exciting of days. I didn't plan any shots for the day as I thought I might be too tired, but after an uneventful journey from North Dakota through Minnesota to Wisconsin I felt surprisingly good. I booked into my hotel and did some quick research online to find some local photo opportunities. I found Capital Springs State Park close to the hotel so set out to have a walk and stretch the legs.
Located at the north end of Lake Waubesa the park is a nice space with good trails but lack of preparation prevented much exploration beyond the 5km forest and lakeside circuit I took. There was an abundance of autumn colour and I managed to find a nice sunset location to end my visit there.
As I left the park I discovered a local sports bar so stopped for dinner before heading downtown to view the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Parking was an absolute nightmare but I finally found a spot and made a couple of shots before returning to the truck and circling Lake Monona to find a viewpoint. I ended up parking on a residential street and humping all my camera gear in the dark through some woodland and across a grass field but I did find a great location to make some cityscapes.
I finally made it back to the hotel by 9:30pm tired but ready to write the blog and post some images. It's been a long day and combined with humping camera gear in 32 degree temperatures I was ready for a shower and some sleep.
Tomorrow I make the final short leg of the journey to Chicago O'Hare to meet Sarah from her flight. It's been a great journey down here and the weather is looking fantastic for the week ahead in Chicago, we're both really looking forward to it.
We arrived in Calgary, Canada on 29th December 2011 to continue our journey. This blog is intended to keep our family and friends informed whilst we explore Canada.You can use the RSS feed below to stay updated.
The Shaman, West Texas