When I woke up at about 4:30 am I was amazed by the aurora outside the bedroom window. At first I was reluctant to get out of the warm bed, but once I got my camera assembled and outside, I was truly mesmerized by what I saw.
The weather forecast had been for partly-mostly cloudy skies, and the Aurora forecast wasn’t predicting something big either. Most of the time the Aurora is to the north behind Arkose Ridge, which rises 4000 feet above our house.
My first exposure was from the deck looking south towards the moonlit Chugach mountains. Living remotely in a cabin in a off-grid neighborhood, means that I have to deal with minimal light pollution. In the first exposure though, you can see the distracting city lights of Palmer, and how the cloud reflects it red glow.
Exposure for auroras can be a bit tricky at first, because the intensity of the light can change quickly. Manual exposure, wide open (f/2.8) at 6-10 seconds at ISO 4500, is often my initial guess. A quick glance at the histogram or the display will tell you how to adjust. Once I have a good base exposure, I keep watching the aurora as it fades in and out and constantly adjust my exposure accordingly.
Last night the Aurora was extremely active quickly moving across the sky, and varying in light intensity. I wanted to “freeze” the motion, so I kept pushing my exposure shorter and shorter to better capture the wonderful moving rays, with my shortest exposures as low as 0.5 second at ISO 9000. It also had very quick pulses of light that I was incapable of capturing (a future video challenge). They were so fast that I could barely discern them with my eyes.
I finally made it back inside 2 hours later, with numb fingers and quite chilled. Tonight I plan to be packed up, well-dressed and ready in case the Aurora comes back.
We started on April 8 in the very wintery and friendly native village of Shishmaref. Before we knew it, we were towed into town behind a snow machine and invited to dinner of Caribou stew at Clifford Weyiouanna’s house. A quick look around town confirmed that spring and boating season hadn’t arrived yet.
The next morning we headed out of town with a perfect tail wind across Shishmaref inlet.
Although travel wasn’t always that easy, we also experienced a spectacular “train-wreck” when we towed both of us, backpacks and two sleds behind the smaller of our kites in some strong and gusty winds. The trail was mostly well marked although the white-out conditions were at times challenging.
Serpentine Hot Springs were as magical and spiritual as everyone had told us.
The wildlife around Serpentine was amazing with 100’s of Caribou, huge flocks of Ptarmigan and this resident Fox.
Then it was time to return, and lack of wind combined with warm temps (rain) turned it into a long walk dragging our sleds. At one point we still had 44 miles to go and only 2-day left before our flight back. Nancy practicing the art of kite-napping while waiting for wind.
But the wind came and once again as a nice tail wind, so our speed increased from 6-miles a day to 6-miles an hour.
Conditions were so perfect that I could pull out my camera and take pictures while flying along.
Is the words that went through my head as I woke up to fresh snow outside the window. It also put an abrupt halt to house repair projects (luckily I got the last concrete poured the day before).
The wet sloppy snow was a good reason to stay inside and to get caught up on projects such as editing images from this summer and to start posting to this blog again. Stay tuned to a recap of adventures and travel from this past summer.
Had a few days of great skiing by the Snowbird Hut in Hatcher Pass, Alaska.
With beautiful auroras dancing in the night sky over the hut.