There are few natural phenomena that capture the imagination as much as the northern lights. For most landscape photographers, photographing the aurora is a bucket-list shot.
However, predicting (and photographing) the aurora is tricky business. There is a lot of science behind understanding the activity of the sun, and how that solar activity interacts with the earth’s geomagnetic field to produce the northern lights. Knowing when an aurora is likely to happen is only part of the equation, however. You also need to know how to find clear skies, locations where you are most likely to see it, and how to capture the ever-changing light as it dances across the night sky.
The month of March is the best time of year to see the aurora! That is not just because we have snow on the peaks, or reflections in the lakes during early spring. NASA researcher and solar physicist David Hathaway has demonstrated that March is one of the most geomagnetically active months of the year, due to the spring (vernal) equinox. During the spring equinox, cracks often form in the earth’s geomagnetic field and allow solar winds to pass through them: It is the interaction between the charged solar particles (carried by solar winds) and particles in the earth’s atmosphere that create the beautiful displays of dancing lights.
The aurora is not the only thing to photograph in the beautiful March skies! March is also the early season for Milky Way shooting! The galactic centre of the Milky Way can be seen and photographed for about an hour before sunrise in the Canadian Rockies.
The culmination of aurora and milky way shooting make this workshop a night photographer’s dream come true! Whether you are new to capturing the night sky, or a seasoned veteran, I will guide you step by step in getting to the right place at the right time, planning and composing the shot, as well as guide you through how to capture and process your images with technical precision.
What to expect
We will shoot from sunset to sunrise, and sleep during the day. Even if we do not get to see the aurora every night, there will be plenty of opportunities to hone your night shooting skills!
There will be very little moonlight which means we will get to shoot bright starry skies. And, as we wait for the aurora, we can photograph the Milky Way and Orion!
In an effort to ensure health and safety, I will be limiting this workshop to five people! I love working with small groups; not only do I get to know you better, I can also tailor our time together to suit your needs.
Accommodations & Transportation
The Great Aurora Chase photography workshop includes lodging and transportation. We will use the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge as our home base. It is a great location for shooting aurora, just steps away from your cabin!
Online Night Shooting Course
I want you to feel confident in your night shooting skills before you arrive on location. We will schedule two online classes in advance of the workshop to cover the basics for capturing the milky way and the northern lights.
March is a unique time of year in the Canadian Rockies, as the mountain region slowly transforms into spring. The weather is typically mild. Some of the shallow lakes have openings for reflections, and soft blankets of snow cling to the peaks. On colder nights we get beautiful frost flowers adorning the foreground. Snow and ice are the perfect companions for aurora as they reflect the dancing green lights.
We have six nights and seven days to fill your memory cards!
My maximum group size is 6 participants.
*Before Covid, deposits were non-refundable. However, I’m trying to be as flexible as possible. In the event that you cannot attend, deposits can be credited toward another workshop at a later date.
There is little that inspires me more than a sky full of stars! Last year I embarked on a personal project to spend 100 nights under the stars. That project really opened my eyes to the incredible beauty of the night sky, in ways that I had never anticipated. I had always thought about night shooting as getting out on the darkest nights to shoot the Milky Way or aurora. However, I soon learned that moonrise and moonset can be completely captivating, that moonlight is an ally to capturing the aurora, and that winter nights are most captivating, even in the absence of the Milky Way core.
I am a passionate educator. It is my goal to ensure you leave this workshop with the skills and confidence to shoot in any low light situation.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!