Five years ago, I took my first night photo in the Canadian Rockies and I fell in love instantly. Nights in the Canadian Rockies are spectacular, especially when the sky puts on a show that goes a bit further than starlight and moonlight. When I first started into night photography, I had little knowledge of the subject, but I quickly immersed myself in everything about it. I was lucky enough to already have the ideal camera gear that could handle the requirements for shooting under starlight. As a concert photographer, I was used to shooting in the dark and at high ISO settings.

Milky Way rising over Mount Rundle and Banff Town
My first Milky Way photo in the Canadian Rockies, 2015.

My nights in the Canadian Rockies have ranged from easy roadside locations to the summits of mountains and areas far in the backcountry. The image of the Milky Way at Vermillion Lakes (above) was a lucky shot for me. It was a backup plan for a location in Kananaskis that didn’t work out due to light pollution (I couldn’t see that during the day when I scouted). I had never been to Vermillion Lakes, but looking at a map, I knew I could at least point a camera in a south-facing direction. My timing worked out as the core was just above Mount Rundle and not yet hidden by Sulphur Mountain.

Since that night, I have taught myself so much about night photography. I learned how to plan for the direction of the Milky Way, and how to predict Aurora (as well as one can with current data). I’ve also learned how to accept the frustrating weather forecasts, that the snowpack changes every year in the Rockies, and that you never know what kind of conditions you will actually get.

It was because of my new found interest in photographing the night sky that I started hiking, scrambling, and camping in the backcountry. I have a list that is continuously growing with ideas for images, compositions, and places to visit. Night photography has also become my favourite workshop subject to teach – to share some of these locations and have a client capture their first Milky Way photo is always exciting for me too.

Here is a selection of some of my favourite moments from five years of nights in the Canadian Rockies. I am so grateful to live near these places. Often, I have been out alone capturing these images. I can’t describe what it is like to stand in absolute darkness, cut off from everyone, with your eyes completely adjusting to starlight and being totally at peace and happy. And that peace is only broken by me yelling Slayer lyrics when I think I’ve heard something in the darkness.

Images from 2015 to 2020

Milky Way and aurora over Mount Assiniboine and Lake Magog
My first time in the backcountry and out at night in the backcountry by myself. I did run into another photographer that was on her own though. We’ve become great friends. 2015.
Milky Way arc over Canmore from East End of Rundle, EEOR
My first night shooting from a summit. An extraordinary experience I have repeated many times. 2016.
Self Portrait from another summit. At the end of June the skies do not get fully dark at my latitude. 2016.
A single frame from a time-lapse that caught a massive fireball in the sky. 2016.
Self Portrait under Jupiter. 2016.
360 Degree Panorama of Aurora Borealis at Bow Lake
One of the biggest geomagnetic storms I’ve seen to date. It took over the entire sky 2017.
Moonlight on Birdwood Peak Alberta
Moonlight dancing through the mountains. 2017.
STEVE and the Picket Fence above Peyto Lake Banff National Park
Catching the full arc of STEVE and the Picket Fence intersection the Milky Way at Peyto Lake was pretty special. 2017.
Milky Way over the Canadian Rockies
The Milky Way towering over peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Air glow streaks across the sky. 2018.
A wedding shoot that ended under starry skies and moonlight. 2018.
Woman standing on a ridge under the Milky Way in Kananaskis
Self portrait under the Milky Way with Mars rising over the peaks. 2018.
End of train light trailing along Morant's Curve in Banff National Park
End of train light blinking creating an interesting light trail along Morant’s Curve. 2018.
STEVE arcing over Mount Chephren in the Canadian Rockies
Catching STEVE next to Mount Chephren was a bit of lucky shot. I was on the Icefields for Milky Way when I noticed the Aurora started dancing. 2019.
Aurora over the Opal Range in Kananaskis
Aurora is generally tricky to predict, but I lucked out catching this show from a summit. 2019.
Milky Way over ice blocks and methane bubbles at Abraham Lake in David Thompson Country
Winter features can be so different ever year and it’s hard to predict what the landscape will look like in the Spring. Loved this foreground find. 2019.
Milky Way and the Conjunction of Jupiter and Mars over Two Jack Lake and Mount Rundle
Milky Way and the Conjunction of Jupiter and Mars. 2020.
Milky Way over a winter landscape at Mount Engadine Lodge
My 150th “succesfull” night of shooting. I tracked my night adventures where I did take photos. There have been many nights where the weather and conditions didn’t cooperate. 2020.