Last night, after crawling into bed with Heather to watch a sitcom, my phone buzzed. It’s not often that folks call me in the late hours, so after the show was over, I hopped out of bed to find a message from my friend Shea excitedly telling me about the Aurora. He hasn’t let me down with reports of northern lights in the past, but just to be sure, I headed to Facebook to see what the crowdsourced space-weather report looked like: tons of people were chatting up the lights.
Not wanting to miss out on epic action, we bundled up and walked to the end of the street, seeing the sky aglow with the wisps of light. While the lights were certainly present, they were a bit bland to the naked eye – the truly amazing show had been earlier when the message was left. Not wanting to miss out on a return event, we went back home, tucked Heather into bed, and I headed out to make some photos.
Shea and others had been texting through the night encouraging and tipping each other off to aurora awesomeness in the case that we were not keeping eyes peeled to the sky… (Sometimes driving to a new location means that you miss the most amazing display ever.) It was nice to know that someone else was out in the cold and enjoying the sights. In a strange way, it’s kind of like that song in Fievel Goes West. Anyhow, back to last night.
After standing in the Mendenhall River for around an hour and thirty minutes, I was able to capture a variety of shots, and eventually headed back to the road where Shea had showed up. We stood and talked for the next hour or so making a few frames, and also gathering images for a time lapse video. Eventually I made it home, offloaded images, and was able to slip under the covers at just shy of 4am. Today has been a day of caffeine!
Take a look at what I came back with – shown in chronological order:
And lastly, the time lapse video. This was at ~2am for an hour. 400 frames, each at ~8sec/ea. Playing at 15fps.
Take a look at the larger versions by clicking on an image or heading to my 2012 Fine Art gallery.
I thought I’d throw up another one from my outing last weekend – I would venture to say that I like this one better for the additional ‘interesting’ things in the frame, though it’s not strictly a photo of the aurora.
What do you think? Do you have a preference?
Most people accuse me of not needing much sleep. I’m not so sure I agree, but I am certainly aware that I have strange sleep patterns. Take tonight for instance: I went to bed at a ‘reasonable’ hour (I think it was around 9:30 or 10pm), and then I awoke at 12:15am without much explanation. I even tried to go back to bed, and after laying there for 45 minutes waiting to fall asleep, I decided it was time to just get up and go read or otherwise keep myself entertained.
I’m glad I did.
Facebook did me well tonight. A fellow photographer who has a knack for aurora images had posted an image showing proof that the aurora’s were out, albeit faintly. That was enough. I went out and spent almost 2 hours collecting images. The one below which “made the cut” is one that was approximately a 33minute exposure (f6.3, ISO 400, @14mm).
I finally decided it was time to go home when I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers. I’d blame it on the lack of gloves, but mostly I think it was my half-hearted efforts to create a time lapse that had my hands out of my pockets every 10 seconds.
Also, I’ve put this up on my Fine Art page where prints and other artwork are available for purchase.
Saturday morning I snapped awake at 4am and suddenly realized that the northern lights might be out. I had noticed a stronger than usual chance of the aurora, so was enthusiastic to get up early to explore. I checked Facebook for the requisite comments about the lights and found several folks who had commented enthusiastically. So I set out… And found nothing but a sunrise. 🙁
Last night I opted to stay up late in order to look for the lights. A friend came along so we headed out to the Mendenhall Glacier in hopes of escaping the light pollution of streetlights. After checking out the horizon and not seeing anything of note, we continued to the shore of the Mendenhall Lake. Night photography is always something I enjoy and I had hoped that I might be able to capture some of that cool blue coloration of the evening sky and maybe even the Big Dipper over the glacier itself.
I thought the evening worked out well, photographically speaking. The Auroras came out for around 1-2 minutes at nearly 2:50am, and Joel can tell you how excited I was. I seem to have a knack for getting shots of the aurora the night after a great display. It works, but one of these times I’m hoping the timing will be in my favor.
Enjoy the photos…
See these and more in my 2011 Fine Art Gallery.