Tonight was like any other week night in good old Calgary town. Come home from work, listen to some tunes, cook dinner, watch TV then bed. The 1 difference though is that Ash and I caught an amazing light show between TV and bed. The Northern Lights.
It all came about from me checking a Facebook group set-up for people in Alberta called the Alberta Aurora Chasers. (You can find the group here.) I usually check it a few times a night to see if there looks to be a chance of an Aurora show. Most nights when there is activity, it usually tends to be a week night and I know it’s going to kill me the next day so I play it safe and stay home. The other nights that there is actually activity, it is usually overcast. This time I didn’t want to risk it and Ash was happy to come along too.
We headed north east of the city out of the city lights and just as we got off of the freeway we could see a faint arch. We kept driving until we found a place to stop, got out of the car and just stood there in awe as they danced before our eyes. They were the brightest I have ever seen them. It was amazing to share that moment with Ash.
I grabbed my camera, found my subject and my spot but the lights were a lot more faded and washed out than when we first arrived but you know what, I didn’t care because it was still an amazing show. I was pretty happy with what I ended up with. I hope you enjoy it too.
It has been way too long since I have been able to get out and see a decent aurora show…
It seems like every time the data is looking good for a show, a good show anyway, that the clouds always want to spoil the party. Oh and of course, the day before and after, we always seems to have beautiful cloudless nights.
Here is one from February 2014. 12 months is too long between drinks!
Another shot from this night out is up in my gallery. This is another one from that same night but playing around with my foreground a little to make it look like gigantic green flames are burning the tree on the side of the road. A great night out despite the clouds trying to ruin the party and a near full moon. Fingers crossed we get some action soon. That may even mean heading up north to Yellowknife to chase them down.
The Northern Lights proved to be elusive last night, dancing between the clouds and keeping to the horizon. I headed out with the talented Zack Splaine (Check out his work here) a fellow photographer from Calgary. Our chase took us 2 hours north east of Calgary until we eventually decided to call it a night at around 3:30am.
Here’s a photo taken at the old bridge that crosses the Red Deer River at Big Valley. Will have some more pictures coming during the week, got lots to show you all.
Will we get the magnetic storm we are all hoping for? According to Soft Serve News, yes. See below;
It seems the question now isn’t whether it will hit earth or not, the question is whether it will stick around… Data already shows that we have impact. Great, except right now in Calgary it is only 4pm. It won’t get dark until 9pm-ish so that’s a few hours we need to wait and hope that it really is strong enough to keep going into night time. The next challenge though is whether these damn clouds will part! It has beena weird week in Calgary! 27 degrees Celsius on Sunday then -1 on Monday, the whole city was covered in snow, and that continued for another 3 days. Then, yesterday the first day we were expecting the Northern Lights to begin, the sky did not have a single cloud… ALL DAY! I think this got a few of us pretty excited but the storm hit us before night fell so we missed it.
It’s all about luck in this chase unfortunately. All out of our hands. Keep your fingers, toes, arms, legs and eyes crossed for tonight… If the clouds part, this could be a great show.
Above is a shot from the last Aurora I was able to catch way back at the start of the year. I missed last weeks action, hopefully I can catch something this time. It truly is an amazing sight to see. I am so lucky to have the opportunity. It just mesmerises me every time.
I will keep you all posted.
10:30pm on a Tuesday and my phone goes off. I am already in bed, about to turn the lights off when I get an email from Aurora Watch telling me there is a 98& chnace of seeing the Northern Lights. Tempting, very tempting! After much thought, lots of checking of weather forecasts and other aurora forecasts I decided to hop out of bed and head out. I had never seen such a high probability before.
I jumped in the car with no real idea where to go as it was quite overcast but I was determined to find a spot where the clouds were broken up. Logic told me they are called the Northern Lights, drive north so I did. I drove up to Airdrie took a left at highway 567 and just headed east. The clouds were breaking up from what looked like a chinook and then I got my first glimpse of them. I was so excited! I finally get to see them again after the first time last summer.
To be truthful, I had absolutely no idea where I was going but found a cool road with plenty of little ponds and trees. It really would be a great place to shoot Auroras in the summer trying to get reflections on the water.
I wasn’t just battling the clouds, the moon was extremely bright also which was a bit of shame as it took away some of the colour of the show but I didn’t care.
I played around in a few spots, mostly capitalizing on the silhouettes of the trees. I apologise of most of these have a similiar foreground but I really loved trying to incorporate them into my shots.
It really was a beautiful night. It was around -6 but believe me, that doesn’t feel bad at all, especially with no wind. It was just me out there, just really appreciating my surroundings; the sights, the smell of fresh air and the sounds of owls in the trees and Coyotes howling.
The shot above you can see the Aurora through the trees with the orange glow of Calgary reflecting in the clouds above the city.
Unfortunately for me, I had to work the next day so wasn’t able to stay as late as I would have liked to but did stay out till 2:30am. They just seemed to be getting better and better but I knew I would regret it for the whole day if I stayed out longer. Fingers crossed the next one comes on a weekend so i can stay out longer and appreciate it that much more. It is so beautiful to see the light flickering around, dancing in the sky and pulsating above and around you. These are only tame to the shows you see up north in Alaska or North West Territories which I plan to check out at some point but they are still spectacular to see.
I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed being out there taking them.
A couple of weeks ago, I got the pleasure of seeing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as they are more commonly known as. I have been inspired to go see them after coming across some photos from a photographer here who is located just out of Calgary. You can check out his amazing photos here. His name is Christopher Martin and his photos are something I have really looked up to. Hopefully I can at some point take some photos half as amazing as those. He recommended a website called Aurora Watch based up in Edmonton that monitors solar activity and sends alerts if you sign up for it. I had received alerts before but foolishly not gone out as I thought I wouldn’t see them but after checking out Christopher’s site each time, he would post up his photos from those nights. I told myself I am going out next time I get an alert, no excuses! Ash and I had been in Bowness all day helping clean up flood affected homes and got home around midnight. We were still a little wired for god knows why, so we decided to stay up and watch some tv to get sleepy. At 1:30am, I received an alert telling me there was 95% chance of activity. I turned to Ash and said “let’s do it”. We left home at 2:00am, with no real idea where to go so I thought lets just head out of the city away from the lights up north since they are the northern lights and see what happens. We did just that and drove north till we couldn’t see the city lights and took a back road just to get away from any cards that may come. All of a sudden, BAM!, there they were! They were absolutely amazing to watch. The colours, the flickering and dancing, it truly was a beautiful thing to see. I was happy to say I had the pleasure of ticking something off my ‘to do’ list! It took a bit of playing around on my camera to get some decent shots but it was my first time shooting them so I am fairly happy with what I got. We stayed out till 4:00am when the sun started to rise. It had been an extremely long day, it was time to go. I could have stayed out there until the sun came up, I was on such a natural high but we made the right decision coming home when we did though as I already paid for the late night for the next week trying to recover. It felt like I had come home from a bender! When we did get home though, we could still see them glowing from our backyard. Truly amazing! I can’t wait to head out there again. I hope you enjoy what I got.