Archive For The “sky” Category
This week is a stargazer’s delight. Mars is at its closest approach to Earth, and that means the Red Planet is the brightest it will be from July 27 to July 31 (the latter date is when Mars is actually the closest). Although North America missed the solar eclipse earlier this week, the moon is actually at its smallest, sometimes called a Buck Moon. The giant planets Saturn and Jupiter are high in the southern sky this week. Earlier in the month, Venus was visible as the Evening Star and for those with the proper gear it was possible to get a glance of Mercury.
Kitimat is in the midst of the summer heat wave that is gripping most of North America. Nights are mostly clear although there is some high haze from smoke in the atmosphere stemming from the forest fires in both Siberia and North America.
With all that I drove out to the Kitimat Viewpoint late Saturday July 28, to capture it all.
Apps (for Android)
The Photographer’s Emphemeris
– told me when the moon will rise and the angle of location. Note: TPE gives moonrise at sea level. That means moonrise in Kitimat is usually between 50 and 70 minutes later depending on where it comes up over the mountains.
A compass app. To check the compass direction of the moonrise as predicted by TPE.
Sky Map. Android app originally developed by Google. Hold up you phone and see location of stars, planets, nebulae, satellite etc.
Heavy duty Manfrotto tripod
Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 17 to 35mm wide angle lens
Mounted with Cokin P121L Neutral density filter (to reduce the glare from the moon)
Jupiter and Saturn over Douglas Channel
The late summer dusk lingers for more than hour after sunset, so even the distant mountains of Douglas Channel can be seen. Jupiter is bright over the Rio Tinto plant at 10:50:33
Sony Alpha 77 ISO 4000 F2.8 1/2.5 of a second
The first arc of the moon peeked over the mountaintop at about 10:57:40.
The first image in the photoblog was taken at 11:00:23 and the second at 11::02:27
Sony RX10iii, handheld, ISO 4000 f4 1/1000 of a second
The RX1oiii is a high-end carry everywhere point and shoot. Moon was shot at 600mm on manual focus.
Same settings on the RX10iii at 11:06:50.
Mars rose to the west of the moon at 11:17:08 This image showing the moon, Mars and Minette Bay Lodge was taken 11:18:35.
Sony Alpha 77, manual focus, ISO 2500, f5 at 2.5 seconds
At 11:23:31 same settings
I was bracketing shots, working with different shutter speeds and other settings, still on manual focus. The meteor streak is in just two frames. This was taken at 11:37:05. (The other at 11:36:58 by 11:37:00 the next frame it was gone. I did not notice the meteor streak until I got home.
Alpha 77 ISO 1600, f3.2 at 2.5 seconds
A last look at Jupiter
At 11:34:02 Jupiter is setting over the mountains behind the Rio Tinto aluminum plant.
Sony Alpha 77 ISO 1600 f2.8 2.5 seconds
A winter full moon rises over Kitimat BC’s iconic Mt. Elizabeth, November 25, 2015.
The moon rises over Mt. Elizabeth, shot for the sky. Sony A7II, using old Vivitar manual Minolta mount 85 to 205 zoom, 1/100 sec, f3,5, ISO 5000, Shutter priority (Robin Rowland)
The moon over Mt. Elizabeth, shot for the moon, a bit noisy, better in black and white. Sony A7II, Vivitar 85 to 205mm, ISO 5000, 1/250 f3.5, Shuter priority (Robin Rowland)
The moonrise begins. Sony A77, Sigma 170-500 at 180mm, 1/30 f5.0, ISO 4000, Shutter priority (Robin Rowland)
Mt. Elizabeth at dusk as I was setting up. Taken at 1649. Alpha 55, Tamron 70 to 300mm at 135, ISO 6400 1/125 at f4.5, Shutter priority (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the hint of moonrise to come. The sky is dark enough at this point that you can see stars in the sky, before the bright moon floods them out. Sony A77 with Sigma 170-500mm (on tripod) at 180mm, 0.4 sec at f5, ISO 4000 program mode.
The cold November moon, over Kitimat, shot for moon exposure at 1749. Alpha 77, 170 to 500 at 200mm, shutter priority 1/2000, f5.6, ISO 4000. (Robin Rowland)
I had great plans for shooting the super moon and the eclipse blood moon on Sunday night, September 27. Unfortunately the ideal shot of the moon rising over our iconic Mt. Elizabeth (which I have captured in the past) was impossible, there was a storm blowing in, and the overcast was so heavy that dark moon wasn’t even visible.
But today, I captured the related super tide –at low tide–which is the shot, I am sure, no one was looking for. To be honest, I was trying to shoot fall colours on a gloomy day where the Skeena lives up its original in name in the language of the Tsimshian First Nation, K-shian, “water that falls from the clouds,” also translated as “river of mists” and now is colloquially called “the Misty River.”
I was amazed at the Skeena was so flat, and so low at a time when it had been raining for the past couple of days and should have been much higher.
A few hours later when I was driving back from Prince Rupert, in a pounding rain and wind storm, the river was actually higher than I had ever seen it before.
I didn’t realize what I had until I was watching the weather segment on the CBC National, and the Weather Network presenter mentioned there was a super tide. Google checks confirmed that a super tide accompanies a super moon.
Telegraph Point, on the Skeena, taken at 1135 hrs on September 28.
Telegraph Point is about 44 kilometres (27 miles) inland from where the Skeena reaches the Pacific Ocean, and the tides do reach even further inland than that. Low tide at Prince Rupert was at 0811 on Monday. There aren’t tide tables this far inland (not needed for sailors)
As I arrived for an appointment in Prince Rupert, it started to rain. By the time I had completed my appointment and had had lunch, I drove back in a wind driver rain storm. I stopped briefly at Telegraph Point and grabbed some quick shots.
This shot, roughly the same angle as the first low tide shot, was taken at 1457, just after high tide at Prince Rupert at 1426. You can’t see it in a still image, but in the river the water was moving rapidly upstream.
This was taken at 1512 from the same spot as the first low tide shot.
Another angle from Telegraph Point taken during the storm at 1512.
(All images above taken with Sony Alpha 55)
This was one of my first shots of the day, taken about 25 kilometres further upstream at 1101. (taken with Sony Alpha 6000)
Tide tables for two closest points on the Skeena
Current tide for Kwinitsa Creek
Current tide for Khyex Point
Supermoon 2015 to cause highest ‘super tides’ for 19 years (Independent UK)
The sun sets over the Kitimat River and the snow covered Sand Hill, in Kitimat, BC, February 20, 2014. Converted to black and white using Perfect Effects 8 to emulate Ilford FP4125, with some highlights and shadow enhancement. (Robin Rowland)
Original image. The sun sets over the Kitimat River and the snow covered Sand Hill, in Kitimat, BC, February 20, 2014. (Robin Rowland)
The falls colours along the Skeena can be fleeting. For a while the cottonwoods are changing, while the alders remain green or begin to change to yellow. A few days later, the time I drove along the Skeena in the middle of October 2013, the tall black cottonwoods have quickly lost their leaves, while the alders (and occasionally birch) along the river banks shine bright yellow in the afternoon sun.
Far from the sea, a seal (front right) swims up the Skeena, Oct. 16, 2013.
Bare black cottonwoods on a beach along the Skeena.
The sunsets on the Skeena near Terrace, BC, Oct. 16, 2013.
On Thursday, October 3, I drove to Prince Rupert for an appointment. With heavy cloud cover on the way into to Rupert I didn’t get much of a chance to shoot the fall colours which are just beginning to peak on some parts of the Skeena (but not everywhere, due to micro-climates you can drive through bright yellows and then a few kilometres further on it’s all still green).
Appointment over and after a hearty seafood lunch at Cow Bay, I headed back to Kitimat, listening on the car radio to the storm warnings and wind warnings from Environment Canada for yet another major early fall storm approaching the BC coast. It was soon apparent from the darkening skies that you didn’t need an Environment Canada weather warning that a storm system was moving in.
Prince Rupert is on the northwest corner of Kaien Island. Highway 16 skirts the the west end of the island until you come to the bridge to the mainland where the highway will either go east to Terrace or south to Port Edward. At the viewpoint just before the bridge, you could see the gathering storm. (By the way there was no rain at all during the time I was driving back and stopping at various points to shoot).
Just a few kilometres further on, despite the dark skies, the Skeena was flat calm. Those pictures in the next blog.
(First in a series of notes for photographers working in the Pacific northwest)
The standard advice for photographing stars is to find a clear sky, far away from urban light pollution, with no moon and someplace solid where you can put a tripod. That’s great, perhaps for New Mexico, Arizona, or even parts of California.
Up here in the northwest, where there is rain forest because it rains, you make the best of your opportunities.
So here’s how to photograph stars on a moonlit night from a floating lodge. There are some conditions, of course. Calm seas are the only way to go. Mountains are great. Where you’re anchored (boat wise) is also a factor.
Last weekend I was shooting some news stock, both video and stills, at Clio Bay, southeast of Kitimat, BC., site of a growing environmental controversy. (See more on Clio Bay at the end of this article)
It was a beautiful weekend on Douglas Channel, rather unusual for mid-September, with a clear sky and near tropical temperatures.
The last time I was out on Douglas Channel on the same mid-September weekend in 2011, there was, to say the least, a raging gale. The Kildala arm is somewhat sheltered, so it was just choppy. Out in Douglas Channel one to two metre waves and worse storm conditions on the actual coast.
Setting up for the star shoot
After the news shoot, I stayed overnight at the floating Tookus Inn, which is moored, for now, in Clio Bay. I had checked various weather forecasts, especially the Environment Canada marine forecast, as well as the regular Environment Canada regular forecast and the Accuweather forecast app on my iPad. All said clear skies.
So given this very rare opportunity, I spent the evening shooting the stars over the mountains of Clio Bay and the west side of Douglas Channel.
Here is a shot taken just as we arrived back from the news shoot, a great blue heron nicknamed Henry on the log boom seen in the night shots.
By checking the Photographers Ephmersis app, with my local knowledge, I knew we would have an early sunset (behind the mountains) long before the official time, a long twilight and that the moon would rise behind and to the left (east) of the lodge before the sky was really dark.
Camera is a Sony A77, with a Konica-Minolta 17-35mm wide angle, manual setting and manual focus on (except where noted) a Giotto MT8260 carbon fibre tripod, using a MH 5001 pan head. (I have a solid Manfrotto tripod, but the lighter Giotto is much better suited for working in remote areas, or where travel storage is limited, as this weekend when I was travelling on a fishing boat. With the pan head it can do double duty both for my video camera and still gear). I used the usually recommended setting of ISO 800 for star photography and varied both exposure and focal length. Shot RAW+JPG.
All images were processed from RAW to Tiff and then to web friendly JPG in Photoshop CC, using minimal black level, white level, curves and contrast sharpening.
This shot was taken at 8:41, just as I was setting up the tripod, camera sitting on the balcony rail. ISO 320, F4, 1/8sec, looking northwest. FL 17mm.
From the ephemeris you can see that the sun has officially set, we’re already 20 minutes past civil twilight, but the last rays of the sunset can still be seen over the mountains of Douglas Channel to the northwest.
About fifteen minutes later, the moon has risen over the mountains, (waxing 64.9 %) behind and to the left of where I am aiming the camera to get stars over the mountains and Douglas Channel. This was a test shot, at 9:03, using my backup A55, on the balcony rail, ISO 1600, F3.5 at one second. Even with the bright moon, you can see stars in the night sky.
It’s now an hour after the first shot at 9:40.08 The A77 with the KM wide angle is on the tripod and I am using a remote trigger.
The moon is higher in the sky, shining directly on the log boom to the left and illuminating the far off mountains on the west side of Douglas Channel. The forest in the right foreground is mostly illuminated by the moon, with some light from the lodge as well. The constellations to the west are clear. ISO 800, FL 24 mm, F4, 15 sec.
A similar shot minutes later at 9:52:01, FL 24 mm F 4 15 sec.
Moon is at a slightly different and higher angle, most of the lights in the lodge are out, so the forest is no longer fully illuminated, moolight reflects off the log boom, stars appear brighter.
Last of the main shots. At 10:14:51, FL 24 F4 but shorter exposure at 10 seconds.
All the lights were turned out at the lodge at 10, so there is no longer any artificial illumination, which brings out the moonlight on the log boom but still captures the moonlight on the distant peaks. Angle is slightly different, so one constellation is behind the forest. (After that because it had been a long day and I had to get up early for the boat trip back to Kitimat, I went to bed).
Clio Bay is a considered a safe anchorage in case of storms. Saturday night was beautifully calm. But not one hundred per cent. Compare the stars in these images.
The first at 10:10:22 shows a small amount of blur in the stars and trees as the lodge moved in the water during the exposure.
but at 10:18:21 it was relatively still and the stars and treeline are sharper. Both using tripod and remote trigger.
Both 13 seconds at F4
This shot was taken at 9:26 p.m, ISO 800, FL 17, 6 seconds at F4. As I tried various angles, the camera captured a lampshade hanging from the balcony ceiling, painted with light from inside the lodge. I found I preferred the original JPG and could not duplicate the tones of the image by processing the RAW.
Clio Bay is an inlet on the east side of Douglas Channel, just south of Kitimat, BC. For years, Clio Bay has been used to sort logs so they can be sent by boom or ship to the Lower Mainland of BC or to Asia. Over the years, thousands of logs have sunk to the bottom of Clio Bay. Now there is a proposal by Chevron and Apache, partners in the KM LNG project across the Channel at Bish Cove to dump thousands of tons of clay on top of the trees. The question is what will the clay do? Will the clay kill a thriving ecosystem among the old trees or will it create an new ecosystem by making a new seabed. The debate continues and that’s why it’s an ongoing news story.
Raven Coast Workshops
Watch for Raven Coast Workshops, photo workshops and tours for all levels of experience and skill in the unique environment of BC’s pristine and historic Pacific Northwest. We aim to start full workshops in 2016, when two new luxury hotels in Kitmat are slated for completion. In the meantime for 2014 and 2015, we can organize smaller workshops or individual charters along Douglas Channel, the Kitimat River and in the historic Skeena River region. High quality accomodations are currently available for a limited number of guests. Please contact us, let us know your interests and budget so we can set up your charter or you can join a small group workshop for a photo-trip to remember.