Saturday, February 22, 2014

Aurora Drive

Seeing the northern lights is always a special treat and the anticipation of seeing them is a feeling I never tire of.  On the evening of Tuesday, February 18th I was looking at my Facebook news feed before going to bed and noticed that a few people were saying they could see the northern lights.  So, I checked the forecast websites and sure enough, they indicated that it might be a good night to see some aurora activity.  This always leads me to walking out on our back deck and checking the north sky.  As soon as I got out on the deck and looked up, I could see the lights.  They were pretty faint, however, and I was pretty tired from an early morning photography outing followed by an afternoon of skiing.  Jessica, my lovely and ever-supportive wife, suggested I go to bed for a little while and set my alarm to wake me just after midnight to check the sky again.  So, that's what I did.  My alarm woke me at midnight, I checked the sky and the lights were really starting to flare up!  Next thing you know, I'm packing my gear and dressing for a night out in the winter woods.  I really need to thank my wife Jessica.  She not only tolerates my penchant for late-night aurora hunting but is also a strong supporter of it and always encourages me to go out and get some good photos.  

So, just after midnight, I found myself driving down Highway 61 trying to figure out where to go to photograph the lights when I realized "Oh yeah… I need to go back to that logging road where I went last time when the lights were faint."  The last time I went out looking for the lights I drove down a road that is normally NOT plowed in the winter, but it is this year because there is a logging operation down this road.  Along the road to the logging area, there are lots of really nice trees for photographing against the night sky.  Even the logging cut is a nice place to shoot from, as it provides a broad view of the sky.  I ended up spending the next four and a half hours photographing a wonderful aurora display. The lights were ever-changing and even at times had some nice red color accenting the greens and purples that I was seeing.  The moon, which was about 3/4 full, waning and low in the sky, provided some nice light to the snow-covered foreground.  It also provided for some nice illumination on the trees, making for some detail in what otherwise would just be silhouettes.  All in all, it was an amazing night of photography.  This is my "first favorite" shot of the night.  I thought it would be fun to include my truck in the scene with the lights on, making it look like someone was driving down this road while the lights danced overhead.  I'll be sharing a few more images from this night in the days ahead, so be prepared to see some more from this amazing night!

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