Photographing the Northern Lights and a Winter Dawn

I never thought that I’d get 2 great Northern Lights photography nights in a row, but it just happened. This morning’s aurora didn’t last as long as it did yesterday, but for a few minutes the display was even more spectacular.

The aurora forecast was good, so I went to bed at 8:30 with the alarm set for 12:30, figuring on pretty much an all-nighter aurora shoot. I looked out at 10:30 and the sky was still clear but there was no aurora. By 12:30, the sky was completely covered by clouds, so I gave up. At 04:00, I was up again, and had both requirements to hit the road – a clear sky and a very good auroral display.

I took some test shots of the house at 04:15, as the aurora was not the bands and rays that are the most photogenic, it was rapidly-moving, vaporous clouds of colour. But when these images turned out, I loaded the car and headed out.

Northern Lights over my home in Whitehorse, Yukon
By 04:45 the vaporous auroral clouds had begun to turn into the more usual forms. This was shot looking towards Whitehorse from near the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway.

Aurora borealis near the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway
From the rest area at the bridge a few minutes later, I went for a walk down the river on a rough track, to get some shots with the Lewes Dam. By now the vertical rays were very good.

Aurora borealis over the Lewes Dam on the Yukon River
The Yukon River Bridge lit up by a car passing by.

Northern Lights over the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway
Directly overhead there were some fast-moving patterns swirling around and joining the rays to form a complete arc.

Northern Lights overhead near Whitehorse, Yukon
I decided to go on a lengthy road trip loop via Carcross, and by 05:45 was stopped shooting at the M’Clintock River Bridge at Marsh Lake. This and the next photo show a fairly rare colour. These are not manipulated in any way – that’s what the camera recorded. While I was parked here, one car stopped and backed up to be sure that I didn’t need help. I try to be obvious when I’m stopped in the middle of nowhere that I don’t, but wasn’t successfully in this case.

Northern Lights over the Alaska Highway at Marsh Lake, Yukon
A few miles further along, a very powerful ray appeared, but was gone in less than 5 minutes. A power line along the highway to the left ruined most of the shots I took here.

Northern Lights over the Alaska Highway at Marsh Lake, Yukon
At 6:10 I knew that I was running out of night, but the aurora was fading anyway. I decided to continue on my loop to capture some dawn images, though.

Northern Lights over the Alaska Highway at Marsh Lake, Yukon
The Tagish River Bridge is a great place to shoot the aurora, but it’s a long way from home and I’ve only been lucky a couple of times. Dawn light is wonderful there, too, though 🙂

Winter dawn at the Tagish River Bridge, Yukon
The view down the Tagish (a.k.a. Six Mile) River from the bridge at 06:45.

Winter dawn at the Tagish River Bridge, Yukon
Choutla Peak (I think) from the Tagish Road, which goes from the Alaska Highway through Tagish to Carcross.

Caribou Mountain from the Tagish Road, Yukon
Montana Mountain, which looms over Carcross, is in the centre. The peaks to the right are half-way down Lake Bennett, almost at the Yukon/BC border.

Mountain dawn along the Tagish Road
Looking back at Choutla Peak.

Caribou Mountain from the Tagish Road, Yukon, at dawn
The next 2 photos were shot from the bridge over the Nares River on the South Klondike Highway at Carcross. It looked like the sunrise might be very pretty so I hung around there for a while, but the light went flat before that happened. The first photo is of Caribou Mountain.

 Whitehorse, Yukon

Winter dawn at Carcross, Yukon
Carcross has one of Canada’s cutest historic post offices 🙂

Carcross post office
Looking up Lake Bennett to the peaks bordering the West Arm.

Looking up Lake Bennett to the peaks bordering the West Arm
Heading home, the sunrise started to light up the peaks as I reached Emerald Lake.

Dawn at Emerald Lake, Yukon
One final shot looking back to Montana Mountain. I got home at about 08:30, very pleased with the results of the past 4 hours 🙂

Montana Mountain in the winter


Comments

Photographing the Northern Lights and a Winter Dawn — 6 Comments

  1. Beauty shots Murray!! I’m thinking you bring a tripod along for the long exposures! I love the swirl shot the most, but they are all spectacular!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Ellen

  2. Thank you! I do think these are some of your very best aurora shots. The pictures with the bridge are outstanding.