4 Reasons You'll Fall in Love with Night Photography in Southern Alberta

Whatever you may want, and where ever you live, there's something engaging to be found just down the road.

Summer doesn't last anywhere near long enough.

When you think nightphotography, your mind will generally jump straight to thoughts of dancing andwispy trails of lights in the sky over Iceland, (see: @chrisburkard) or stunningand vivid nightscapes of sprawling cities. I, on the other hand, spurred by adesire to grow creativity, and a penchant for sleepless nights, have found thatthere is more to our sprawling wheat fields and rugged mountain ranges thanmeets the eye, and that's through a longer exposure.  Here are four reasons to grab a shutterrelease cable and tripod and brave the cold!

1. Northern Lights

You'dbe surprised, but there are more opportunities to see the Aurora Borealis thanyou'd think. Being decently north of the equator and coupled with diversescenery and wide open skies (which shall be touched on later) allow forstunning photos any time of year. At least once a month you'll find a burst ofcolour in the north. Twice this year, the lights have been on the whole nightlong, and no one shuts them off ;)

Don'tforget: Aurora Borealis Schedule ( can be found online at www.aurora-service.org ). This ishandy because it gives the auror-cast for the next three days.

This burst only lasted 15 minutes. Sometimes it pays to have your camera all the time!

2. Miles of Sky

There's an old joke that if you lose your dog here, you can see him running for three days. It's mostly true, and at night, it feels like you might be in the cockpit of your favourite space craft staring out into infinity, or beyond. Summers, in particular, are an amazing time to take up astrophotography, as the Milky Way is the most visible and can make for some amazing and award-worthy photos.

Pro-tip: Try to stretch yourself by taking several photos of the night sky and, using Lightroom, stitch them together to make a seriously breath-taking image of the Milky Way, like I did here.

There isn't anywhere quite like the Milk River Ridge to see the Milky way; isn't that fitting?

3. Diversity of Scenery

Asmentioned earlier, there is a little bit of everything in our little corner ofthe country. Fields? Check. Old farm buildings? Check. Gnarly old trees? Check.Whatever you may want, and where ever you live, there's something engaging tobe found just down the road. Southwest Alberta and the Canadian Badlands are like two different worlds, only a few miles apart.

Whatyou'll need: A friend with a farm, or access to a coulee with hoodoos, or aWaterton Lakes National Park pass.

The old Sugar Factory in Raymond is both ominous and inviting.

4. Waterton Lakes National Park

Thiscould be argued as part of the scenery section, but this hidden gem deserves asection of its own. Waterton is the perfect size: big enough for you to feelsmall, but small enough to find your way around in a couple days, or nights.Between Red Rock and Akamina Parkway, and along the shores of the deepest lakein the Canadian Rockies, you'll find places to light paint, spin steel wool, oruse sparklers to write a cute message to your crush. Don't forget that one ofthe best places to see the Perseid meteor shower is here in the park, visit www.mywaterton.ca/events to find outwhich weekend to book your stay next summer!

Localsecret: Right on the corner when you get into town, you'll find theBlakiston & Co. Paddleboard, kayak, and canoe shop. Take one (preferably aSUP board) over to boundary bay to have a lakeside campfire while you watch thesuper-moon rise with friends, s'mores, and hot chocolate.

A short walk on your feet will get you to a journey in your imagination.

While not an exhaustive list, this is a great way to branch out into another genre of photography you may be timid to start or try. Head over to my Instagram page @neekora for more ideas, tips, and tricks on how to capture a bit of the night sky for yourself!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nikora Smith

Maori-Canadian. LDS. Photographing my way back to the ocean, one click at a time.