Auroras 2016

trip report

Aurora storm

Aurora storm

Fall color and Cameron River above Cameron Falls, Northwest Territories, Canada

Fall color and Cameron River above Cameron Falls, Northwest Territories, Canada

Another auroras tour under our belts. And another opportunity to see the amazing aurora displays in and near Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories. It's not disappointed so far. This year we got to witness a couple of nice storms, the first one lasting a long time. For the moving image above, I just pointed the camera straight up and enjoyed watching the aurora while I kept pushing the shutter release. I then combined the images into a gif in Photoshop.

We also saw some nice fall color, three foxes, and I even got to hold an aurora in my hand.

Oh, and as usual, we ate really well.

victoria-aurora

I really like this picture that Victoria took. It's my favorite from the three years we've been going to Yellowknife (click on image to see a larger version, it's worth it). I may not make the best model, but what can you expect when someone is wearing all the cold weather gear? Can you say "Expecto Patronum?"

Aurora over Prelude Lake, Powder Point Territorial Park, Northwest Territories, Canada

Watching the auroras

Once again, I brought a tent along and lit it from within. This year one of our participants served as a model, sitting outside of the tent and gazing at auroras. From one angle, she was a silhouette. From this angle, the light from the tent illuminates her face. I really like this one too.

This was a fun night at one of our favorite locations, Powder Point. Here you can photograph the auroras reflected in the lake looking north, east, or west. And if the aurora is showing more in the south, it's up to the road to use the evergreen trees as an anchor for the auroras. And there's a calm pond as well that can be used. All in all, this has been one of our favorite and most productive sites.

Aurora crown from Aurora Village

Aurora crown from Aurora Village

We went to Aurora Village again this year. Yes it's a tourist trap, yes it's crowded. But it's also fun. Plus it has a great variety of locations and possibilities. From the lit tee-pees to lake reflections, to photographs among the trees, which is where Victoria made the picture above and where I made this image.

Already looking forward to next year. We're even contemplating a winter trip, if there are any hardy souls out there willing to brave the sub-zero (Fahrenheit!) temperatures.

Waterfall aurora

This year, Victoria and I arrived a few days early to do some scouting and to try to capture an aurora over a waterfall.

This location is one we always visit in the daytime, but doing so at night poses some safety problems, which is why we're not willing to bring a group (liability, don't you know). It's a relatively short walk from the parking lot but there's limited space, the rock near the waterfall is uneven, has little crevasses just waiting for an ankle, and one misstep can send you tumbling down rock into either some calm and deep water or directly into the base of the waterfall, where bones are likely to be broken at the very least.

We arrived in daylight and scouted the safest spot from which to photograph. I also think it might be the best spot for the waterfall. Whether it's the best spot to view auroras is still not determined because, after a day of clear skies, the clouds moved in that night. But so did the aurora, and it lit the clouds with an eerie green glow.

Luci Light

Luci Light

To light up the waterfall we tried a couple of things. First we tried Victoria's headlamp with a domed flash diffuser. This worked ok but was hard to control.
Next we tried a Luci Light that I brought along mainly to light up the tent. This works well. I had to be quick on the power button so as not to put out too much light. In fact, all I really needed was a quick flash from the Luci Light. The diffuse light lit the waterfall pretty evenly and for a surprising distance.

See the result below.

Cameron River Ramparts at night. Aurora lighting up an overcast night.

Cameron River Ramparts at night. 13s @ f/3.5. Nikon D810, ISO 6400, Rokinon 14mm f.2.8 lens

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3 responses to “Auroras 2016

  1. Wonderful! What a beautiful effect with the waterfall and sky.

  2. That is spectacular!

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