Just outside of Edmonton is an oil refinery. Like all oil refineries, it has a flaring stack. The lights of the refinery are visible from much of our city, including our downtown balcony. Depending on the size of the flame and the weather, we can usually see the flare itself, or at least a cloud.
Today is somewhat different.
I happened to be watching the news, which I normally never do, hoping to catch a friend of mine in another province being interviewed, when I caught a story about the flare being unusually large. Emergency services have been getting calls about it all day. The station's helicopter was over the area, filming the blaze and smoke, and we were assured that the refinery was doing this on purpose. Then they moved on to other things. Eventually I change the channel to another news program where I was hoping to see my friend while working on a scarf I was crocheting.
Now, picture this scene. In the living room, I've got the tv on. My husband is playing WoW with headphones. My friend's son, who is living with us right now, is on his laptop with an earbud in one ear loud enough that I can hear him playing WoW, too. There's also conversation and a very loud cat to add to the volume level.
Through all this, I'm noticing a strange, pulsing noise, just barely auditory. It was loud enough, however, that my husband took off his headphones, wondering what was making it. I had been wondering that myself and got the impression that it was coming from outside. I muted the tv and we listened for a while. Then I realized what it might be. Grabbing a pair of slippers, I headed outside and saw this.
We grabbed the tripod and tried for a few shots, but they mostly didn't turn out. Since it's -20C with a wind chill, I didn't try too hard, either. I did, however, switch from the 18-55mm lens to the 70-200mm.
It's kinda got this whole Mordor look to it, don't you think?
This is as far as I could zoom in, with the ISO at 1600. I missed a lot of potential shots, as the flames would occasionally spurt high up, but with the long exposures, it was rather difficult to catch them.
This was, indeed, the source of the noise. In fact, I could still hear it when I started this post, though it seems to have stopped for now. Though this refinery is visible from our balcony, it's not anywhere near us. It must have been quite the thing to hear in the neighbourhoods at the outskirts of the city!
I can certainly understand why so many people were phoning emergency services about this!
Oh, and while I was freezing outside, getting these shots, I think I missed seeing my friend on tv! Oops.