Aurora Borealis hunt along the Tagish Loop

After hardly taking any pictures for many weeks, I’ve been trying hard to make up for lost time lately, especially when the aurora may be visible. Whoops, Cathy says that house renovations are NOT “lost time”! 🙂

Since buying a lens specifically for photographing the aurora borealis last November, I haven’t yet had a good night to use it. While there have been some good Northern Lights shows, they haven’t happened at times when I had enough energy left to get out for a few hours in the middle of the night. Last night, I was hoping that the Rokinon 10mm f2.8 lens would get the opportunity to work. It’s very wide, very fast, and very sharp – a great addition to my Canon EOS 7D.

Rokinon 10mm f2.8 lens
The aurora forecast was extremely good, but as the sun went down, the skies were mostly cloudy. Within a couple of hours, though, the clouds dissipated, and I got my gear together, planning on a long night.

Aurora forecast for March 18, 2018

As I left the house at 10:00 pm, a band of aurora could be seen low on the northern horizon. I headed for the Yukon River bridge. At a section of the Alaska Highway that overlooks the Yukon River, with a good view to the north, I parked on the shoulder about half a kilometer past another photographer who was already set up. Setting up my tripod, though, I found that the quick-release head wasn’t there! Without it, I couldn’t shoot. I remember taking it off my camera after my last outing, so I knew that it was still in my office.

As I headed home at high speed, the aurora got very good, and as it turned out, that was the best it got all night. By the time I got back right at 11:00, the show was much diminished 🙁

I took a few shots from that spot overlooking the Yukon River. The pinkish glow to the left is the lights of Whitehorse.

The Aurora Borealis over the Yukon River near Whitehorse, Yukon
I then drove to the Lewes River Dam. You may notice that the aurora is a slightly different colour here – that’s just the lights on the dam throwing the camera’s colour balance off.

The Northern Lights and the Lewes River dam
I only stayed at the dam long enough to take a couple of shots. With the aurora fading, the Yukon River Bridge was my next stop. I slogged through the snow up to the viewing deck, which wasn’t quite the view I wanted, so I moved down and set up my tripod about 100 feet away at the edge of the embankment dropping down to the highway. This photo looking over the highway and up the Yukon River was shot at 11:45 pm.

Traffic on the Alaska Highway at midnight
It can be a long wait for another vehicle to come along the Alaska in the middle of the night, but here I caught two – a car southbound (coming towards me) and a semi northbound. This is a good image to show you the quality of this lens – click on it to greatly enlarge it in a new window.

Traffic on the Yukon River Bridge at midnight
I stayed at the Yukon River Bridge for about an hour, but the aurora never returned except as a dull glow. I then moved on to the Tagish Bridge, and a few minutes before 01:00, the aurora began to brighten up. This photo was shot from the Recreation Area right at 01:00. Those two bright area turned out to be an indication of what was happening further north, from where some wonderful photos have appeared online.

The Northern Lights and the Tagish Bridge, Yukon
Twenty minutes later, I shot this self-portrait in the middle of the bridge.

Self portrait with the Aurora Borealis - on the Tagish Bridge, Yukon
I got a few more photos, then the aurora went dim again.

The Aurora Borealis from the Tagish Bridge, Yukon

And that was basically the end of the night. I had to stop for a power-nap at the Carcross Desert, but got home right at 03:00. It wasn’t the super-storm aurora that was predicted, but any aurora is a good aurora. The forecast for tonight is actually even stronger but we have a very heavy cloud cover.


Aurora Borealis hunt along the Tagish Loop — 2 Comments

  1. Very impressed with that one scalable aurora pic, very nice setup of the vehicles. When you are capturing moving light – do you manually release the shutter or set it for a few seconds? Your photo credit avatar is a nice set up.