Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Perfect ending to the day

Crescent Moon and Venus

Tonight, shortly after sunset, the thin crescent moon and Venus shone brightly through the twilight of the western sky.  Thankfully, for us here in Pelly, the clouds lifted in time to reveal tonights celestial show.  Now, let's hope the northern lights make an appearance as well.
Enjoy your evening!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The end of the deep freeze

Pelly Crossing in -45 degree temps - full moon light

My God it chilly!!!  Yesterday morning, my students reported that their thermometers had dipped to -50 ºC, a record low for this season.  Didn't know that our thermometers could read such low temperatures!  Thankfully, the end of our cold snap is in sight.
What a week it was as the temperature barely made it over the -40 ºC threshold.  Throughout the week school bus pick ups were cancelled, the day care was closed, our travelling doctor could not make it into Pelly and many folks postponed road trips to Whitehorse because it was far too dangerous to drive the 4hr journey in minus forty degree temps.  Many here went to bed for the night forgetting to stoke their wood stoves with enough fuel.  Sadly, they awoke the next morning to frozen pipes.  Zippers were frozen shut, fingers and toes numbed far too quickly and I was shocked at how little time it took for frost bite to grab hold of the tip of my nose.  Boy, it was cold - so cold that even the our ravens were spotted bundled up together with feathers ruffled trying to conserve as much body heat as possible.  Not a bird song was heard throughout the week.
For much of the cold snap a thick blanket of wood smoke descended upon much of Pelly Crossing.  The haze certainly created some classic winter scenes as the sun rose behind the spruce trees with its gold rays radiating in every which way.  The evening sunsets were equally brilliant as the skies were ablaze in gold, yellow and reds.
One a positive note - the evening skies were crystal clear as billions upon billions of twinkling stars lit up the otherwise dark winter sky.  Unfortunately for us, it seemed that even the northern lights were too cold to dance for us this past week :)  Just kidding!  Solar activity was minimal the last few days, hence the lack of northern lights.  NOAA forecasters are predicting a 25% chance of spotting aurora over our area this weekend as an incoming CME (coronal mass ejection) is expected to hit the Earth in the next 36 hours.  High latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.  Unfortunately for us here in the Pelly, the weekend weather calls for cloudy conditions and snow flurries. Think positive Claus, the clouds will bring along warmer temps :)
Hope all is well in your corner of the world!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Another gorgeous winter sunset

Despite the cold, the Yukon can be an incredible place to photograph in winter. Gorgeous sunsets framed by the silhouettes of black spruce trees or the rugged mountains ..... ahh, the typical Yukon landscape.  Now, if I can only get a raven to soar by....

What to do when it's -45 ºC outside

It's simple - just go outside with a cup of boiling water and toss it into the frigid air.  Within a fraction of a second the water freezes and crackles as the tiny ice crystals create the most incredible ice cloud formation imaginable.
Hey, what else is there to when the temperatures are well below forty degrees Celsius.
This exercise did give me some thoughts about a mini photo assignment - photographing these ice clouds from various angles and under different lights.  Stay tuned!!!

Cold Weather Photography

Sunrise over the Pelly River (10:21am; -43 ºC)

At long last, the much anticipated Arctic blast of frigid air has finally swept across the Yukon.   Given the balmy weather we've been enjoying as of late one would have thought Mother Nature had forgotten about our corner of the world.  This morning, she was back with vengeance as I discovered my thermometer had dropped twenty degrees Celsius since yesterday afternoon.  I could not believe my eyes when I read minus 45 degrees Celsius!!  By the time the ice fog lifted at sunrise,  which by the way was at 10:21am, the mercury had risen ever so slightly to a balmy minus 43 ºC (that's -45.5 ºF for my American friends).  Burrr!!! So much for my wishful thinking - spring is months away.

Keeping a digital camera in working order during cold weather requires some planning, preparation and care.  The most important points to remember are to slowly introduce the camera to the cold, and then to gradually warm-up the gear as you return indoors from a day's outing.

Prior to heading outdoors it is key to ensure that your camera and lenses 'cool down' slowly.  Place your gear into an insulated, and covered, cooler (a sealed garbage bag works just as well) and set it outdoors a half-hour or so before you snap the first image of the day.  Doing so will protect your camera (and lenses) from any sudden and extreme temperature change (by as much as 60 ºC in a matter of seconds).  Remember, cameras are nothing but metal, glass, plastic and electronics - all of which need a gentle cooling down period.  Simple physics apply - metal and glass contract at different rates in the cold and, as such, any great changes may result in pressure cracks on your lens.  Trust me, it's not a good feeling when you hear the glass crack while sitting out on the floe edge in the High Arctic waiting for Bowhead Whales to surface.

The reverse also applies when you return from a day of photographing winter scenes.  Moments before you enter your warm house place the cold camera, and its lenses, back into the insulated cooler (which you left outdoors).   Bring the cooler inside and leave it unopened for a few hours - the camera will slowly warm to room temperature.  Doing so will prevent condensation from developing inside your lenses and/or onto the digital sensor.  Condensation is notorious for glueing dust onto sensors and lenses (a challenge to clean).

I always carry my battery pack along with spare batteries and a cable release in my inner coat pocket.  The warmth from my body prevents the batteries from draining too quickly.  The frigid temperatures also play havoc with the plastic coating of the cable releases (I've had to replace my cable release at least once or twice each year because of the cold).  You may wish to store your battery pack inside your coat pocket when the camera is not in use.

Try not to breathe on your camera or onto the lenses - your warm breath will freeze onto the viewing screen or onto the lens itself.

Finally, dress warmly and in layers.  You may want to wear lite weight gloves inside your mitts so that you could fiddle with the camera settings without having to expose your fingers to the frigid temperatures.  Some may wish to bring along a thermos of tea or hot chocolate (I'll let you decide if both need a bit of something extra!)

I'd be interested in hearing any more tips you may have.

Enjoy the winter!!


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Winter sunsets

It's that time of year again when the late afternoon sky is awash in varying shades of pastels.  My favourite images of this season include those where the black silhouettes of the spruce trees or the wiry branches of the alders are framed against the winter sky.  This setting certainly creates some dramatic images.

I couldn't believe my eyes today - a high of zero degrees Celsius.   One would swear spring is days away.  Wishful thinking!

Check out my images from last year's winter sunset.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Parliament Hill in its winter glory

Here's another image of Parliament Hill during last year's Winterlude Festivities (Opening night).  The photo was captured from grounds of the Museum of Civilization, located across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Parliament Hill in full colour

Parliament Hill during Winterlude Opening
Feb, 2011

Hi again,
I've decided to post one of my favourite images from last winter in Ottawa.  If you have the chance I highly recommend that you plan a trip to Ottawa during the Winterlude Festivities (this year Feb 3-20th, 2012).  The opening of Ottawa's annual winter celebration begins with a spectacular fireworks display over the Ottawa River.  Parliament Hill is also illuminated in coloured lights - well worth photographing.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Back in the Yukon

Air North - taken with iPhone camera

Welcome back to the Yukon!
I'm back after spending the holidays with family in the sunny 'south'.
I look forward to sharing more images and stories with you from my adventures here in the Yukon.
Cheers, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing you and your family all the best for 2012!
Happy New Year