This week I spent some time in one of my favourite spots in the Canadian Rockies: Kananaskis country. The weather couldn't have been more cooperative and the snow-capped mountains were a perfect subject to play with some night time photography. Somehow, my tripod was left behind, and my brand new remote wasn't cooperating, so I had to improvise a little bit to get the shots I wanted. Here are the results!
This photo was taken from the balcony at the back of William Watson Lodge. My ISO was set a bit higher than I would have liked at 2000. Shutter speed was set to 8 seconds and aperture at f/4. The trees in the foreground are lit by the yellow exterior lights on the lodge and the mountains and sky are lit by a very intense nearly-full moon. To reduce shakiness, I had my camera sitting on the balcony's edge and manually released the shutter.
This photo was taken during a short walk down the gravel road from the cabins towards the highway. This one is entirely lit by the the moon, and due to the intensity of the light, long shadows are cast on the snow. For this shot, I placed the camera on a tall pail from my dog's food that I had brought from the cabin. It was a challenge to compose the shot without being able to see through the viewfinder at that height comfortably, but after some trial-and-error and beautiful mistakes, I finally got two shots that I think turned out perfectly. (The other one is more or less the same scene, but in portrait, showing more stars). Due to the white foreground, I was able to reduce my ISO to 400 for this shot, and my shutter speed to 13 seconds.
This one was also taken from atop the dog food pail. I love the flare effect from the moon. Aperture here remained at f/4, but I increased my ISO to 1600 and reduced my shutter speed to 8 seconds.
All in all, I am pretty happy with the results I was able to achieve without a tripod or remote shutter release. It would have been a shame to miss some of these night time landscapes on such a clear, crisp night. I love that about photography....sometimes you just have to figure out a way to make it work in a pinch. :)