I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have had an opportunity, both planned and spontaneous, to get up in the middle of the night and dash out for some sort of awesome photo opportunity. You might want to go back to sleep. It is hard to say set an alarm for 2:00 am and then actually get up when it goes off. The bed is so cozy, that dream I was having was so good. The will needed to ignore all of that and pack up and head out into the cold night is tremendous My advice is always get up. This week is a number of examples of why you always always always get up.
This was on a trip to Drumheller that Miranda & I took in the spring of 2005! This was post driving across Canada in our trusty Volkswagen Golf so we had, at this point, perfected the art of sleeping in our car. As such we would take weekend trips to places that we could drive in 8 hours or less (which sounds awesome but 6-8 hours from Edmonton just means you can do Drumheller, Loydminster, Banff, Jasper, Calgary and maybe Waterton National park if you have a 4 day weekend) This weekend took us to Drumheller which was a place that I hadn’t been to since I was a kid! We took in the sights and looked at dinosaur bones, cacti, mining equipment and hoodoo’s. That night we slept in the car at a lookout for Horsethief Canyon (15 years ago it was way easier to sleep in your car at tourist attractions then it is now)
It wasn’t quite a quarter moon but I had a thought that I could take a long exposure photo of the canyon at night, so I had set an alarm for midnight and went to bed. When I woke up I looked as best I could though the dark limo tint of our car and could make out some northern lights. Now growing up many hours north of Edmonton I had seen many many many northern lights in my time. But never with a camera, and never with a majestic Canyon below me. I grabbed every camera & tripod I had and set them up with various lenses and snapped as many long exposures as I could with the processing and writing time that old canon cameras had. (a 30 second photos required 30-60 seconds to write the exposure to the card)