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Friday night lights (you really had to be there)

July 9, 2017

An “impressionistic” photo of the moon rising over a condo (and the CIBC at 13th Avenue).

Here is a trio of terribly attractive (and terribly photographed) light sights from the evening of Friday, July 7th.

The first sight was at the corner of South Granville Street and 13th Avenue, where I stopped to buy something and ended up marveling at the waxing moon in the southern sky.

The time was about 10:16 p.m. and the moon was just straddling the top of a condo. The white of the lunar disk was edged with prismatic highlights and projecting around it was a rainbow-like halo, only made visible where it intersected a clotty sheet of clouds.

The moon in July, without rhythm or reason

Wow! Why do I even bother taking photos at night with a point and shoot camera?

I have seen and photographed similar moon halos on winter nights. And on one autumn afternoon in October 2015 I photographed cloud iridescence—what the Mail Online refers to as a “fire rainbow”. Personally I have never before noticed such a halo around the moon during the summer.

In all instances I understand the optical effect to be the result of light interacting with either ice crystals or water vapour. Although I see that there is now an obligatory “chem trail” explanation to be found on the Internet, involving artificial fibres, sprayed high overhead to induce the formation of clouds.

My little adventure camera is almost always at a loss in the dark and could not do any justice to the meteorological effect that I saw Friday evening.

The best that can be said for my attempts to photograph the moon are that they caused several passers-by to stop as they tried to navigate around me and look up from their smartphones to see what the fuss was about.

The Brite Lites of the big city

The Granville Street Bridge at night—a bit of order in the confusion.

The second awfully attractive sight that I saw on Friday night was photographed at 10:37 p.m. from the intersection of Alder Street and 8th Avenue, looking north towards False Creek and downtown Vancouver.

What caught my eye—beyond the overall, glittering, Lite-Brite-quality of the skyline—was the span over False Creek of the Granville Street Bridge.

The bridge was only visible as a bright horizontal line, or necklace, of unmoving red automobile brake lights, as if there was some sort of blockage at the northern end of the bridge that was stopping traffic.

I confess that many’s the time I have whiled away the minutes at this same spot, watching and thinking about the distant winking lights of emergency response vehicles as they zip to and fro across the bridge, accompanied by the thin, wailing sound of their sirens.

The Aurora Bore-ialis, to coin a phrase

One hundred and fifty years of Canadian history and all I got was this stupid coin!

Last but not least, I have a truly woeful photograph of one the rarest of sights to be seen in the Fairview neighbourhood, namely the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borialis, or just the Aurora, if you want to sound especially Canadian.

According to Vancouver Media, the last honest-to-goodness local sighting of the Northern Lights was less than two months ago, on May 28.

Unfortunately I missed that one. My sighting on Friday night was pale and flat by comparison.

In fact, my photo was of the Canadian Mint’s new $2 coin, one side of which depicts the Northern Lights in glow-in-the-dark colours—a world’s first apparently.

This special toonie is part of the Mint’s Canada 150 coin collection, in case you are a collector.

Being a none-too-choosy Canadian, I have to say that it does my heart good to see my country leading in a field again—any field—even something as cheesy as glow-in-the dark coins.

To photograph this “lumismatic” marvel, I exposed the glow-in-the-dark side to bright light for 15 minutes and then photographed it in my sleeping bag, which allowed me fairly fine control over the light level.

Unfortunately my Pentax point-and-shoot WG-3 simply cannot focus in the dark, or in anything approaching darkness—or even at dusk for that matter—as the three photos illustrating this post show, or do not show, as the case may be. Click the images to enlarge them.

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