03/24/2015 05:54 EDT | Updated 05/24/2015 05:59 EDT

Northern lights photos so beautiful you won't believe they're actually real

Justin Stevens works the nightshift at Walmart, but his true passion is capturing photos of the night sky so beautiful you might doubt they're even real.

The resident of Thunder Bay, Ont., spends hours during the day scouting locations so he'll be ready when the northern lights strike. 

"Sometimes they will last for hours, but other times it only lasts a few minutes," he said in an email. "There is definitely some luck involved, because you just never know what type of pattern you are going to get in the end."

Stevens plays with both long and short exposures and takes hundreds of photos before picking just one or two that have the characteristics he's looking for. 

His photos are clearly out of this world.

"Tthere is nothing like being surrounded by nature and watching the [lights] dance throughout the sky live," he says.

And while there may be nothing like the real thing, the camera does have some advantages. Stevens says that sometimes the lens is able to capture hues that the human eye might not see.

He has been snapping pictures for the last three years, but says this past winter, which featured some extraordinary solar activity, has been particularly special. 

His photos have lately captured the attention of local media and of users on Reddit. A recent post on one of his photos has racked up nearly 650,000 views and another more than 150,000.

And Stevens is soaking up the moment.

"I love sharing my art with others, and the support I have been receiving has been overwhelming and truly exciting." 

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