From all the entries submitted to a recent photo competition on Cloud News, an emerging News and Picture Agency specialising in elemental photography, my submission – titled Northern Skies – pulled a ‘special mention’.


Obviously it would have been very nice thank-you to have won but competitions are notoriously fickle – more often than not, it’s really a question of what takes the judge’s eye! In this instance, I was also playing ‘off-subject’ in that the competition related, as per Clouds News, to elemental photography which ain’t my specialism. Under the circumstances I was chuffed to bits with the ‘special mention’ result. Phenomenon


So what is elemental photography and what does Northern Skies look like?


Elemental photography is related to the environment and the natural world which therefore includes all manner of things like sky, earth and water as well as animals and the weather and all combinations thereof. In short, just about anything and everything related to the mother earth.


I captured Northern Skies whilst in the Canadian Rockies in 2004. We’d been travelling all day down the Icefield Parkway (a.k.a. The T-Can or Trans Canadian Highway to give it its Sunday name) before pulling over late evening into one of the over-spill RV parks. It had been dark for a few hours but it was a clear night and the stars were out. We were miles from anywhere – roughly mid-way between Jasper and Banff – and there was an eerie feel to the night. A chance look outside our RV was greeted with an amazing sight; a glittering and truly spectacular Northern Light display. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, the camera was onto the tripod as quick as you could say aurora borealis!


Night-time photography is a subject which I’ve only dabbled at. Nevertheless, I recovered my composure sufficiently to capture a dozen or so frames before turning in for the night. Weeks later, whilst cataloguing and scanning the shots – yes, we’re talking back in the glorious days of film - I realised that a few of the images I’d captured not only featured the Northern Lights but The Plough and the North Star as well! At that point I labelled the image, Northern Skies.