Night Photography

Eclipse of the super moon

September's super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0370

Last night was the lunar eclipse where the moon turned a deep red which lasted for more than an hour.  I traveled to south to get to the edge of the clouds which had rolled in over my home in Bragg Creek before sunset.  In Turner Valley I found clear skies and set up as the moon was entering the earth’s shadow.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0337

I was awestruck, as usual, with this fourth of the tetrad of lunar eclipses which have been spaced six months apart starting in April 2014.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0413

It was a beautiful transit with the moon’s surface moving through oranges and reds before returning to her brilliant white.  It has been an incredible series of events to witness and I have enjoyed photographing them immensely.  I’m excited about the new beginnings and opportunities they herald.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0468

The Milky Way over Waterton

Milky Way over Waterton - © Christopher Martin-3462

The stars in the Waterton area shine brilliantly under the dark sky.  From our campsite, my son and I could make out the Milky Way as it rose out of the mountains that line the valley from the town and down the lake.

Aurora Borealis in Waterton

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4124

My son and I camped at the Waterton Springs Campground, on the edge of the national park, a week ago.  On the second night the Northern Lights came out and danced along the northern horizon.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4127

The campground is in the rolling foothills that lead up to the mountains so it was less than a hop, skip and a jump to a rise where we could get great views of aurora.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4148

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4091

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4101

Lightning and the Northern Lights? Last night there was.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8480

I came home late last night after watching the chuckwagon finals and the final grandstand show of the 2015 Calgary Stampede.  That was a great night (thank you Larissa and Sean) and as I cleared the city driving home, it became that much better.  From the Trans-Canada Highway, I looked northward and could easily see the glow of the Aurora Borealis stretched between Cochrane and Calgary.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8231-2

Altering my course, I drove towards the Springbank airport and found a good hill to watch the sky from.  While setting up my camera gear, lightning flashed from deep within the thunder clouds that hung low in the sky.  The party was in full swing and I was excited to join in, albeit from a distance, and start photographing.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8353-4

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8208

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8344

The auroras were rippling above these clouds and it made for an incredible experience.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8457

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8474

I stayed out for two hours watching as the storms slowly wound down while the entire northern sky was painted on with ethereal beauty.  Early on, the lightning streaked to the ground several times in different parts of the sky and ripped across the clouds regularly.  In the second hour, the Aurora Borealis grew larger and brighter while the storm separated as the clouds spread out across the prairies.

Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8499


Aurora Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8459

The Northern Lights over southern Alberta

Aurora Borealis above the forest  - © Christopher Martin-5571

I live in a forest community along the Elbow River near Bragg Creek in Alberta.  I often enjoy watching the stars against the silhouette of the trees.  When I saw the Aurora Borealis begin to shade the northern sky once dusk’s afterglow darkened, I raced around to set up my gear on the deck.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5561

It turned out to be a very active aurora and I had a couple of hours to watch the colors ripple across different parts of the northern sky.  The beauty above was met in equal measure by the sounds of the crickets and birds and the relaxed touch of a warm, summer wind.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5643-2

The time drifted by without any ties to an actual clock and I felt pleasantly ensconced in my own little world.  The Northern Lights seem to have that effect on me.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5612

Aurora over the prairie

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3907

A little over a week ago, on June 13th, I spent a night out on the prairies near Nanton.  I love the vast skies and many of the interesting things that fill them – above and below.  I settled into my sleeping bag to watch the stars while I drifted off.  That idea evaporated when I received an Aurora Red Alert indicating that there was a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3745

(If any images look a little grainy, please click on the picture to open a higher resolution version in a new window)

The image directly above was one of the first taken once I was set up.  I used a long exposure of 30 seconds to stretch out the lights of a semi-trailer traveling north along Highway 2.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3923

I played around there for a while before moving further east to reduce the golden glow on the undersides of the clouds resulting from High River’s lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3900

I found a quiet field several miles away and the timing worked out as the spikes in the Aurora had just started to appear.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3910

The Northern Lights were still glowing as dawn started to push into the sky and before 4 AM I was transitioning into sunrise landscapes.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3953

A night at the Athabasca Glacier – sparkling stars, blurred clouds, glowing skies and jagged peaks

Athabasca Glacier under the stars - © Christopher Martin Photography-0666

When I ventured up to Jasper National Park in May, I spent the first night at the foot of the Athabasca Glacier. After laying my sleeping bag across the reclined passenger seat, I set up my tripod and camera along one of the trails that lead up to the edge of the ice.

Athabasca Glacier under the stars - © Christopher Martin Photography-0663

Looking up the glacier, between the clouds as they slid by, a subtle green-blue glow was visible above the ice, rock and snow. With long exposures, the glow was more pronounced. I first thought it may be the Aurora Borealis but I was facing towards the southwest so I would have expected a show behind me more than where I was looking. It was a new moon that night so I’m not sure was responsible for the glow. Could it be the starlight on a clear night, free from light pollution, reflecting off of the ice? Maybe, but I really can’t explain it. It was hauntingly beautiful and I enjoyed spending a couple of hours in that place within this immeasurably vast universe – a night with the stars will get you thinking such things!

Mount Andromeda under the stars - © Christopher Martin Photography-0660-2

It was a great auditory experience as well, the ice cracks and rock falls echoed off the mountains and down the glacier field irregularly through the night which broke up the steady cries of the racing winds.

Athabasca Glacier under the stars - © Christopher Martin Photography-0676

Sparkling stars, blurred clouds, glowing skies and jagged peaks – it was a special night.

The Northern Lights and a bank of clouds

Midnight Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5099

After owling (and here) in the evening I went into Calgary for dinner and when I was close to Redwood Meadows found the Aurora Borealis were dancing to the north.  The lights were partially hidden behind a large cloud bank which was an unusual sight for me that were impressive as they glowed above the fields.

Midnight Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5102

Northern Lights in Bragg Creek

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4180

After the Great gray owl and I parted ways it was very dark which helped me to notice a slight glow to the north.  I drove to a field where I could get a better view of the sky and found the Aurora Borealis was just starting to brighten off the horizon.  The lights rippled and stretched above valley for more than an hour.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4153

As they began to wane, I went to nearby Wild Rose Lake and was able to catch the Aurora’s reflection in the water.  As well as its glow mixing with the city light from Calgary.  This was an unexpected, but gratefully welcomed, surprise and end to an already great night photographing out in the country.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4262

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4201


Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4220


Night Flight

Night owl - © Christopher Martin-4069-4

I found an owl hunting after dusk had settled over Bragg Creek.  It was getting dark quickly and I had go back to my car  for a flash at one point.  I started to photograph this Great Gray around a stand of trees on the edge of a field.  After a while she moved out onto the yellow grass and then went to perch on a fencepost.

Night owl - © Christopher Martin-3923

Retrieving the light, I mounted it in the hotshoe and it didn’t take long to relocate her.  We then spent an hour together as she hunted on either side of the fence line while I watched from 40′ away.  She was very comfortable with me there and flew to a post closer to me on a couple of occasions.  It was challenging to shoot the owl in flight but a lot of fun.

Night owl - © Christopher Martin-4059

At one point we traveled along the fence with her stopping every 100′ until I caught up.  When we had returned to the edge of the trees, the owl flew back out towards the field.  It was a very powerful encounter for me.

Night owl - © Christopher Martin-4049



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