My first night with the Northern Lights this fall


September closed out with several strong Northern Lights displays that reached down to southern Alberta.  I was happy to make it out to the Foothills to photograph in the middle of the night for two of them.  These images are from the first foray which started around 11:30pm and continued rippling when I finally headed home around 2am on the 26th.

The clouds seemed to move in slow motion and picked up the glow from Cochrane differently as the night progressed.  Above, the aurora’s color palette shifted into pastels.  A few of the later images reminded me of cotton candy and were fantastic to watch slowly ripple then fade away.  I imagined these were tie-dyed waves rolling in both over the pond but also the sky they were reflecting.


Ursa Major and its Big Dipper were constant companions in the sky behind the dancing lights.  The stars would run in and out of the clouds, hiding at times and burning brightly at other times.  There was good magic to watch throughout.


28 responses

  1. These pictures are absolutely stunning! I can’t wait for my first Northern Lights experience! 🙂

    February 3, 2017 at 7:10 am

  2. Beatiful photo and amazing, the color, but whar moticion!!!!

    October 11, 2016 at 11:18 am

  3. These are amazing! And I am ticked off at myself for not getting out to see them, especially since they will come out less frequently, or so I was told. What settings do you suugest for aurora?

    October 11, 2016 at 8:43 am

    • Hi Jane – thank you. For settings, at our latitude sometimes the aurora are not super bright so high ISOs and wide apertures can be needed. I use a Canon 5DIII and Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens for most of my Northern Lights images. With that setup, I often use an ISO of 3200 and an aperture of f/1.6 – 2.8. Depending on the look I’m after, I usually want to minimize the shutter speed (under a couple seconds; sometimes much less) so that I get sharp stars and the aurora is crisp. Longer exposures will start to blur the stars and the aurora will stretch out like clouds do. Both can look cool but I prefer that to be a choice I make rather than limitations forced on me by the gear. Both that camera and lens are expensive so I have worked around that earlier in my career by using a 50mm f/1.8 lens with a 40D, used 5DII and other SLRs. The most critical piece is putting the camera on a tripod. Without that, again at our latitude, successful images of the aurora will be hard to come by.



      October 12, 2016 at 12:47 pm

  4. Kenny

    Reblogged this on My Awesome Pics!!!! and commented:
    Check out this pics absolutely stunning

    October 10, 2016 at 6:13 am

  5. Kenny

    very cool pics — stunning

    October 10, 2016 at 6:12 am

  6. Oh wow, hope to be able to witness ourselves one day…pure magic!

    October 10, 2016 at 1:26 am

  7. heathermichellepoetry


    October 10, 2016 at 1:07 am

  8. these photographs are unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!

    October 10, 2016 at 1:05 am

  9. Arshad

    Beautiful and Spectacular!!

    October 9, 2016 at 9:17 pm

  10. Pingback: My first night with the Northern Lights this fall — Christopher Martin Photography | lakeso

  11. Frosty

    Beautiful! Wish I Could have been there. Thanks.

    October 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm

  12. acupuncturaweb

    Really beautiful, there are no words left to say standing before this marvelous event, the pictures show more than words can tell ❤ thank you for sharing your photos with us!

    Best Regards

    Raquel – Portugal

    October 9, 2016 at 11:27 am

  13. Stunning…well worth some lost sleep.

    October 9, 2016 at 8:22 am

  14. Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    October 9, 2016 at 4:28 am

  15. Wow! These are amazing!

    October 9, 2016 at 1:45 am

  16. Just dazzling, what amazing captures. Can’t wait to see them myself one day 🙂

    October 9, 2016 at 12:05 am

  17. Oh wow that is stunning! No words to describe how beautiful these pictures are. Awesome Job!

    October 8, 2016 at 11:37 pm

  18. Amazing photos. Lovely colours.

    October 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm

  19. Beautiful. Like a dream or some other planet.

    October 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

  20. Muy bonitas fotos

    October 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm

  21. geopeach0726

    Absolutely beautiful! I can only imagine!

    October 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

  22. Spectacular photographs. A treat to see!

    October 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm

  23. What a marvelous spectacle to be able to enjoy and capture in person.

    Great work Martin.



    October 8, 2016 at 4:12 pm

  24. Iris Buchaski

    Absolutely beautiful! Love your latest photos.

    Iris Buchaski

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

    October 8, 2016 at 4:07 pm

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