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.
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.