A Spectacular Aurora Borealis Morning

Usually, getting up before 04:00 isn’t a good start to my day. However, today it was, in a major way. As soon as I fired up the computer I saw some notices on the Yukon Aurora Alert page I set up last year, saying that there had been a display around midnight. When I checked, the aurora was still there, and covered much of the sky!

With the temperature at -3°C (it was +3 in town), I went out into the front yard in my pajamas and took a couple of shots. For life in general, I love living in a forest – for Northern Lights photography, it’s not so good. I normal start shooting at 30-second exposures at ISO 1600, but the aurora was much too bright for that – this was shot at 15 seconds with the ISO knocked way back to 500.

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon
I wasn’t going to go for a drive, so just took a couple of shots of the house and went back inside. When I pulled this shot up on the big screen, though, my plan changed.

Aurora borealis over my home in Whitehorse, Yukon

Within a few minutes I was on the road. My first destination was the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway as is often the case, but I had to go a few miles in the wrong direction to get gas before starting my aurora wander.

At 04:45, I starting shooting at the Yukon River Bridge. This is looking south from the rest area there.

Aurora borealis along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
Looking south along the Alaska Highway. In my photography, I often put man-made things in the picture, and roads are a particular favourite. With the aurora, perhaps it brings back some great memories of spending hour after hour driving down the highway under the Northern Lights when I was driving winter bus charters.

Northern Lights over the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
Looking towards Whitehorse. The Yukon River Bridge is straight ahead, the Lewes Dam is on the right, and the lights of the city add some colour to the sky. Clouds had started to move in with the fairly strong south wind – very disappointing but as least I got a few shots.

Aurora borealis along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
Another shot to the south as the clouds covered more of the sky. With almost no traffic on the highway, I parked in the traffic lane and set up my tripod beside the car for this shot.

Aurora borealis over the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
This was shot looking south at the bridge from a side road that goes to the dam and some homes.

Northern Lights at the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse
By 05:15 the clouds had mostly disappeared and there was getting to be some really interesting vertical rays in the aurora, so I started shooting some vertical photos.

Aurora borealis along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon

Aurora borealis along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
Then some red aurora began to appear even to the naked eye. Cameras “see” much more red than our eyes do, so when you can see the red you know a good photo is there.

Red Northern Lights along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon

Red aurora borealis over the Yukon River near Whitehorse
At 05:30, I was back at the rest area looking for some traffic shots, but with only 1 vehicle every half hour or so, that plan often doesn’t work.

Aurora borealis over the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
But trucks are particularly fun when it does work 🙂 None of the photos in this post have been “Photoshopped” – they are exactly what came out of the camera. The different colours between this photo and the one above in particular are caused by the camera reacting to the truck’s lights.

Trucking under the Aurora borealis on the Alaska Highway
Just towards Whitehorse from the bridge is this wonderful view over the Yukon River, but there’s no place to get off the road so I don’t shoot here very often.

Northern Lights over the Yukon River near Whitehorse
I’m drawn by the Lewes Dam in all seasons, and this morning was no exception.

Aurora borealis over the Lewes dam near Whitehorse, Yukon
Looking down the Yukon River from the dam.

Aurora borealis over the Yukon River at the Lewes Dam
A couple of minutes before 06:00 I was doing more vertical shooting for those spectacular rays.

Aurora borealis over the Lewes dam near Whitehorse, Yukon

Aurora borealis over the Lewes dam near Whitehorse, Yukon
Back on the side road, but shooting towards the city. A pilot car with flashing lights was going by on the Alaska Highway.

Northern Lights along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
A traffic shot that didn’t quite work but is funny because of that. The movement was caused by me getting slammed by an extremely strong wind from the wide load that had moved over towards me to get room crossing the bridge 🙂

Aurora borealis along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
By about 06:40, the light of dawn was wiping out the lights of the aurora, even though sunrise didn’t happen until 08:19 this morning. I drove around a bit looking for shots. The aurora doesn’t show well in this shot…

Dawn and aurora borealis over the Lewes Dam near Whitehorse, Yukon
… but this one looking down the river was a good one to finish off a wonderful morning of shooting with.

Northern Lights along the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon

Now, I have 2 days to get ready for my flight to Vancouver and drive back to Whitehorse.



Comments

A Spectacular Aurora Borealis Morning — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Murray

    Beautiful and many thanks! moving back to AK (this time Haines) after many years absence. Somehow once you get the north in your system, you just can’t stay away.