Posts Tagged “storm”
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.
On Sunday morning, Feb. 13, 2011, got up to go to the washroom around 5 a.m., looked out the bedroom window and rain was washing away the snow from the previous week’s storm.
When I woke up just after 10 and looked out again, snow was coming down, really coming down.
@cindysjyu tweeted at 1038, as I was finishing breakfast.
Kitimat reported 12 cm of snow so far. #BCstorms
So, went out and dug out the driveway.
Snow kept falling, and falling.
At 1538, I retweeted,
RT @cindysjyu: Kitimat reported 38cm of snow so far. #BCStorms
and out I went out to again to dig.
I didn’t attend to go out again, but late in the evening at 2103 another tweet sent me out again.
@cindysjyu: 83 cm in Kitimat and counting. #BCStorms
Now that point I wondered if Kitimat was going break its own record for the most snow in Canada in a 24 hour period.
Kitimat had set the record for an urban area in 2000, with 113 centimetres or 45 inches. Nearby Lakelse Lake set the all time Canadian record in 1974 of 118 centimetres or 49 inches.
So out I went again. Just in case that record was broken overnight. I wanted the driveway as clear as possible, so that if I wanted to go out and shoot, I’d be ready.
Of course, I took a camera with me, the Sony NEX-5, which can be set to ISO 12800. As I was digging, the district snowblower came out of the darkness.
So the driveway clear as it could be, I went back in the house, preparing to save these photographs, just as the power failed and the house went dark. The lights came back on after 45 minutes and so it was off to bed.
So Valentine’s Day dawned and once again, checked Twitter.
Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan, who monitors snowfall amounts for Environment Canada, told local radio station CJFW: “We had, from 6 o’clock or 6:30 yesterday morning until 7 o’clock
this morning, we had 99.5cms of snow,” said Monaghan, adding “It’s going
to start being a problem with what do we do with the snow?”
So no national story about a new snow record. Big local story and a single clip on CBC Vancouver News.
Nor was it pretty, overnight the storm changed to wet snow, not worth shooting.
So a routine day, gym, supermarket, more digging.
Tomorrow is another day.
Monday Dec. 13, 2010 was not much, just 30 centimetres, and people pretty well kept going about their business, just as people did more than 40 years ago when I was growing up here.
Monday is my administration day and a power failure in the afternoon interrupted my work, so I didn’t run the errands I was planning. I did dig out my driveway twice, and will have to do it a third time (at least) in the morning.
I know much of the eastern part of North America is socked in by the storm there. As for me, after I finished digging out the driveway, walked around the neighborhood with the camera and enjoyed the beauty of the heavy wet snow.
View the slideshow of Kitimat snow
One of the many reasons that I chose to move back to my old home town, to build my new career as independent photographer, was that Kitimat is really a place of ever changing light. The Pacific winds bring weather up the channel, creating microclimates on each peak and each beach. Thus one moment you can have heavy overcast, a few minutes later scattered cloud, followed by sun, followed by black clouds and a torrential downpour.
A couple of days ago, during that major rainstorm that pounded the west coast for days, there was one of those breaks, where the sun suddenly shone through. So I decided to walk, rather than drive, to the local gym (a photographer hiker has to be in shape) and grabbed a couple of shots from a park a few steps from my house.
Of course, as I was walking back from the gym, the ocean squall returned full force and I was soaked by the time I got home.
But that shot gave me an idea. As I have said in previous blog posts, I always carry my Lumix FZ28 in a fanny pack, so for the past few days,as I walk to or from the gym, I stopped at the viewpoint and grabbed a few shots, hand held (against recommendations) and then using Photshop CS5 merged them into large (20 to 40 inch ) panaromas. Here are the web versions.
This dark, menacing sky is somewhat misleading. As I came home from the gym, on what had been a beautiful day, the skies darkened with dark clouds. But it was the opposite of the other day, the clouds blew over and the afternoon sun was soon shining again.
The panorama in afternoon light.
The panorama in mid-morning light.
Douglas Channel about the same time as the previous photo, on the following day.
(All photos pop as larger versions)