Posts from the ‘Canadian Rockies’ category

10 Favourite Places to Shoot the Northern Lights Featured

I’ll admit it: the northern lights are intoxicating. For many years I’ve been drawn to cold, northerly destinations, both as a photographer and an adventurer. And beyond the desolate beauty and landscapes of these locations, whether it’s Greenland or Canada’s northern territories, it’s icing on the cake that they also provide us with the best opportunities to shoot the aurora borealis.

Here are my top 10 favourite locations around the globe to shoot the northern lights, in no particular order of preference:

1. Alaska

In a nutshell: Perfect latitude, fantastic scenery to pair up with lights. Cloud cover can be an issue.

When to go: October to March.

Denali National Park, Alaska, USA. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

2. Canadian Prairies

In a nutshell: Nice low horizon, easy access. You need a decent show.

When to go: Year-round.

Canadian Prairies. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

3. Canadian Rockies

In a nutshell: Some of the most incredible skylines to pair with lights. Great displays are rare. High horizons make it more challenging to shoot.

When to go: Year-round.

Banff National Park. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

→ Check out these Resources for Shooting the Canadian Rockies.

4. Greenland

In a nutshell: Zero light pollution, mind-blowing scenery. More difficult/expensive to access. Strong displays frequent.

When to go: September to April.

Greenland. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

→ You’ll also find my Aurora Watching Web Resources here.

5. Iceland

In a nutshell: Easier, cheaper access. Weather can be an issue. Good latitude, great landscapes. More people.

When to go: September to April.

Iceland. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

6. Labrador

In a nutshell: Super dark skies, very wild. Access can be difficult. Some incredible skylines.

When to go: September to April.

Torngat Mountains National Park. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

7. Norway

In a nutshell: Good latitude. Stunning landscapes. Weather can be an issue.

When to go: September to April.

Norway. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

8. Nunavut

In a nutshell: Very little light pollution, incredible scenery. Lower temperatures to deal with. More difficult/expensive to access. Strong displays frequent.

When to go: September to April.

Nunavut. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

9. Northwest Territories

In a nutshell: Very little light pollution, low horizons, surprisingly great access. Strong displays very frequent.

When to go: September to April.

Join OFFBEAT in Yellowknife, September 2018, for our next Nights of Wonder workshop!

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

10. Yukon

In a nutshell: Very little light pollution, fairly easy/inexpensive access. Great latitude for aurora.

When to go: September to April.

Yukon. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

→ Check out my Aurora Watching Web Resources

10 Favourite Spots for Shooting the Northern Lights, by Paul Zizka Photography

Trailer Release: In the Starlight Featured

A few years ago, French filmmaker Mathieu Le Lay reached out to me with the idea for a film. Little did we know that the journey to capture footage would take us to the top of Mt. Whitehorn here in the Canadian Rockies, twice to the remote glaciers and fjords of Greenland and to the desert dunes of Namibia. I’m thrilled to finally be able to share the trailer of the film, which premieres on Ushuaïa TV this month. Follow In the Starlight on Facebook for updates on more screenings!

 

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Behind the Image: Emergence Featured

“Emergence.”

I took this black-and-white on a shooting marathon at Mount Assiniboine a few years ago. I only had two nights in the area and the conditions were so good I went without sleep to make the most of the opportunity. I went everything over those 48 hours: in thunderstorms, fresh snow, aurora borealis, inversions, fogbows, you name it. And it was late September, that time of year when the larches are glowing gold – arguably the best time of year for photography in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.

After a night shooting the northern lights and running around to try to find breaks in the cloud cover, I finally decided to return to the Naiset Huts to catch a nap since I could no longer escape the clouds. Just as I was about the enter the cabin (which was already nearly full of fast-asleep people), I spotted a few stars glowing above the mountains. No rest for the wicked! I realized the clouds were an inversion and that a sunrise at the Nub (a nearby spot which is the most photographed backcountry location in the Canadian Rockies) could offer great potential.

As I made my way past Assiniboine Lodge, I did a double-take when I caught a glimpse of the pyramid of Mount Assiniboine floating in the dawn sky, all lit up in alpenglow. It was an absolutely incredible sight. I was pretty determined to get up to the Nub, but felt the scene that was immediately available guaranteed an image more unique than anything I could hope for at the popular vantage point higher up.

I set up the tripod, pulled out the long lens, and took a few frames of this scene, as the clouds were constantly swirling. This was my favourite one. The fog below kept the base of the mountain quite dark, while the alpenglow lit up its higher sections. The dark blue sky above bookended the composition, and made it look like the “Matterhorn of the Rockies” was doing a levitation act.

Shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens, at ISO 400, 30 seconds, f/11. I often use this image in workshops as an example of the power of compressions and isolation of the long lens in landscape photography. I hope you like the image and the story!

This image is available as a custom, limited edition print.

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