Stripy sunset

Nature is pretty good at coming up with abstract scenes – last night’s stripy sunset is a good example.

Who doesn’t love patterns? I really liked the way these clouds formed parallel lines, and in particular the way they receded into the distance. It’s a bit like a colourful barcode in the sky.

I do have one confession surrounding the processing of this image: I rotated it by a few degrees to make the clouds horizontal, which I think makes it a much more effective photograph. Thankfully, there’s no distant horizon for which that matters!

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Cloudscapes

Cloudscapes – last night’s sunset lit up some great cloud formations and it got me sifting through some recent cloud photos which made me realize 1) how much I enjoy looking at clouds, and 2) just how many photos I take of clouds 🙂

  1. Light pillar in the sky – I started with this photo as it’s the most striking, a column of pale pink topped by a wedge of extra pink. I’ve often seen a vertical line (of course that’s just a projection) after sunset but it was a novelty to see the embellishment at the “top”. My first thought was that it looked a bit like a pink peacock feather.
  2. Coloured lines – parallel(-ish) lines always catch my eye. I like how the lines in the clouds seem to run parallel to the top of Black Mountain.
  3. Sweep – a wider view of the above two shots showing the clouds sweeping across the western sky and the transition from pink to grey as the sun sets.
  4. Before sunset – it’s not just sunset that produces great clouds; about an hour before we were treated to this lovely display of more sweeping clouds and interesting patterns, bright white against the deep blue sky. I’d have been happy enough if this was the best cloud display of the day!
  5. Where grey meets greyer – on Sunday blue sky gave way to white then grey clouds, then very grey clouds as a strong frontal system moved in from the west. I love the contrast between the two, and the texture in the paler clouds above.
  6. Night shiners – our first noctilucent cloud sightings in over a decade! It was a treat to see them again, their silvery waves in an indigo sky. I suppose it makes sense: noctilucent clouds tend to show up around solar minimum, which has an 11-year cycle and it was indeed 11 years ago that we first (and last) saw them.
  7. Afloat – taken from Eagle Bluffs a few months ago, I really like the different layers of clouds and the way they appear from this higher vantage point which seems to create more depth than usual in cloud photos.

For more cloud photos, check out our set on Flickr.

Conjunction

I didn’t think we’d see this tonight – the most slender of crescent moons, a hint of Earthshine, and Venus with some lovely clouds for extra decoration. Swipe to go back in time 🙂

The email from spaceweather.com appeared in my inbox this morning. I scanned it and, after a quick consultation with the weather outside my window, deleted it immediately. There was no way the clouds would part to allow us to see tonight’s conjunction of the Moon and Venus. And so it looked throughout most of the day.

But as luck would have it, those clouds drifted away towards sunset leaving us with a pure blue sky, albeit one that was still dotted with clouds thick enough to hide any celestial body. I stepped out onto our balcony and took the third photo in the series while the Moon was barely visible in the pale evening sky. The big cloud below it looked like it would prevent me from getting any photos as the blue hour progressed until it, too, began to dissipate.

The clouds continued to disperse until they were but decorative framing to the stars of the show (ironic pun intended). As night fell I took some longer exposures to pick up the Earthshine, which worked surprisingly well given that the Moon moves during the 5-8 seconds of the photograph. I even like the glow of the bloom around the brightest parts of the image; it lends a dreamy, ethereal quality to the scene.

Given that I used the little RX100II, I couldn’t be happier with these photos. The combination of just enough zoom and plenty of pixels gave me the flexibility to reframe and crop, though the position of Venus meant that I couldn’t be tempted to crop in too far, which is a good thing and results in more balanced photos in the end. A bonus set of photographs for sure!

Ominous

Ominous clouds to the west

Today was one of those spring days where the weather gives us all four seasons in a day. We had sun while other parts of the area had hail and/or snow. Towards sunset, the clouds gathered and threatened a downpour. It never came – at least for us – but the clouds looks dark and foreboding as the weather system tracked north along the Salish Sea and up towards Howe Sound.

I looked out of our west-facing window to see the dark rain clouds. Thinking there must be a picture in there somewhere I stepped out onto the balcony and sized up a few photos. As I looked through them on the computer I found I just hadn’t been able to capture the feel of the weather. Until I got to this photo: the full 3×2 frame was just of the cloud formations, and I took it because it looked kinda interesting. However, when I first saw it on the screen I passed over it because it looked, well, boring and dull. It was only as I went through a second time with a more critical eye – having processed a couple of others and not feeling they conveyed anything – that somehow I instantly saw a square crop, the frame neatly divided into light and dark, with some really interesting cloud shapes along the boundary. I loaded it into DxO PhotoLab, desaturated the colours (after setting the white balance to “shade” to make it nearly grey) and applied some contrast to emphasize the extremes.

I set out to capture the dark clouds over the city and instead ended up with a more abstract cloudscape that actually captured the mood far better. I’m really happy with it.

Light on Brunswick

Light on Brunswick – the view from the sunny summit of Black Mountain.

We’d spent a good while basking in the sunshine on the rocks at Eagle Bluffs and on our return opted for the quick detour up and over the south summit of Black Mountain. To our amazement, the summit was silent. I was expecting at least one group of people to be there, but it was vacant. Not even a whisky jack or raven to be seen. The view towards the Lions and other nearby peaks isn’t that great from here (the view from the north summit is better) but it was good enough and we had some superb dappled light hitting Brunswick and the East Lion. Having just posted a whole series of photos of the Lions, I figured today should be about Brunswick Mountain!

I grabbed a couple of shots, ensuring I didn’t blow out the highlights (thinking back to Sean Tucker’s excellent recent video called Protect your highlights) which is still quite easy to do on the little Sony RX100II. This meant that the shadows fell really dark, but I felt that was the point of a photo like this one. With the dramatic dark cloud behind the peaks, my idea was to produce something “moody”, maybe a little ominous, in contrast with my photo of the Lions from Hollyburn a couple of weeks ago which had a more ethereal feel to it. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded with the processing I went with – perhaps I should have increased the contrast even more, especially in the mid-tones. I may re-edit the photo for the Flickr version.

Still, I like the way the clouds rise up over the summit of Brunswick, keeping their distance as if giving it some respect, and the gleaming white snow does look good against the dark background. And every time I look at Brunswick, I’m transported to the wonderful day we had up there.

Full moon shining

The nearly-full moon shines through the clouds above Cox Bay beach on New Year’s Eve. Hoping for clear skies next week to see the full moon, and maybe the lunar eclipse too – if I can wake up early enough…

Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was saying I don’t take many photos of the moon these days? Well, technically this isn’t a moon photo; it’s a cloud photo with the moon merely providing the light. I really like the crepuscular rays from the moonlight shining through gaps in the clouds, as well as the colourful iridescence. It almost looks like a photo of a distant nebula out in the Galaxy…

The weather forecast doesn’t look good for the full moon next week, but if it’s clear then I might try and drag myself out to see the early-morning lunar eclipse. I’d love to catch the moonrise like last year but there’s this thing called “work” that prevents that from happening this year. It’s about time I tried another timelapse though…

At last, a sunset!

It takes a good sunset to entice me to take its picture these days – or maybe it was just the novelty of actually seeing a sunset? Either way, I love the patterns on the underside of the clouds highlighted in pink.

I almost didn’t bother. I’ve been a bit out of sorts with photography lately, and just haven’t felt like picking up the camera or even looking through past photos (the gloomy weather may have had something to do with that). Yesterday we had a foggy walk along the seawall in English Bay and Stanley Park and I took the camera for the first time in a while; I even got a few photos I like (the highlight was the otter sighting). Earlier today I was doing some camera shopping in the hope of finding an upgrade to the DSLR I’ve been carrying since 2009. Perhaps between the two it gave me a bit more inspiration to look for photographs again. In any case I figured I had nothing to lose by taking this photo, so why not?

As I sized it up I immediately envisaged it working as a square crop which meant only one thing: after nearly a month, I finally felt like posting something on Instagram! I like the way the view is divided into four sections – the black horizon, the sunset glow, the lit clouds, and the blue sky above – even though they’re not equal, as well as the pattern of pink on the clouds. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have another sunset photo like this one, so I’m quite happy with it.