Okay, I’m awake. First batch of aurora photos

Okay, when I was younger I stayed out all night quite frequently. In fact, I worked overnights for seven and a half years. I’m no dummy. I know what it’s like to stay out late. But now that I’m all growed up and have a real job and family, I don’t get to do it so much. So I’m a little crushed by staying out past 4am this morning. But it was WORTH IT.

My feed, like yours, probably blew up with Northern Lights photos last night and today. Fantastic. Recently I’ve dreaded that, because my photos haven’t been among them. This time, however, I was able to get out with my best friend and get some shots of my own! So let’s go…

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Bolt to the Butte

One look at the data this evening, and I knew I had to get out with my camera for once. I’ve done the responsible grownup thing over and over again when these things happen on a weeknight, but I’d actually taken a bit of a dad nap this evening so I felt fresh. Out we went, my youngest boy joining me.

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Flame on

We were doing a family thing, but I couldn’t help but dart outside for a quick Aurora Borealis photo.  They weren’t visible from town when I drove in later, but from our place they looked quite lovely!  They came and went over the course of an hour or two, and may not be done yet – but I am.  I have a rough couple of days ahead.

Double Ditch Auroras

auroras_37499As I hinted a while back, I got to go out chasing auroras last weekend.  While I was a zombie Sunday afternoon between church services, I was glad I went.  Without a concrete advance plan I defaulted to Double Ditch, which was also because a friend of mine was already there.  We started off by hiking down to the river with the aid of abundant LED light.  In fact, I was astonished at how much light I was carrying.


auroras_37505We took some time to venture out to, and even into (in my friend’s case).  We caught a waft of skunk smell, so going back up top started to seem like a pretty decent idea.


auroras_37511We hiked out to the little stone hut, an attraction to which one used to be able to drive.  There we camped out for a while as we worked various angles of the structure and the lights came and went.  They started to settle down and we both started thinking about our responsibilities in church in a few short hours, so it was time to pack it in.  I’m pleased to say we each got some pretty decent shots for our effort.

Auroras from the road

auroras__34823I watch solar data pretty closely.  Thanks to a couple of guys at NOAA, I’ve learned which numbers are the most important to us here in North Dakota.  The way the numbers were peaking on Monday, I was going absolutely nuts.  The sky was on fire, but unfortunately we were on the daylight side of the globe.  As darkness approached, I made plans to go out to see them.


auroras__34821I had planned some dramatic foreground objects, but things didn’t time out the way I’d planned.  I found myself along the side of a rural highway with some friends, however, which was cool in itself.  I started to swing the camera around to see what I could capture.


auroras__34820Again, I’m of the opinion that any sky photo is made 10x better by having an interesting or unique foreground.  That was driving me nuts as I didn’t really have one, but the Lord put on a lightshow that was so astonishing that I began to just look upward and not focus so much on the camera.


auroras_34825I keep little LED flashlights in my camera bag, and I grabbed a blue one to illuminate the roadway with blue light so vibrant I actually had to tone it down for this photo.  I played around a little bit until the clouds began to roll in, I began to get tired, and the lights began to wane.


There’s a really good chance of more Northern Lights tonight – keep your eye on the skies!  I’m going to be on the road for a shoot all day and don’t expect to get back until after dark…but I may have the opportunity to transition from work to play just in time to catch more Northern Lights.

Late for the party

weak_auroras_33458I had my phone on vibrate Monday night, so I didn’t get the aurora alert when they began blazing.  Then I watched in agony all day as the K-index shot up to (and hovered at) a scorching 8!  Then the clouds began to roll in.

My friend Zach sent me photos later Tuesday evening with some really nice auroras, but he had to head considerably north and east of Bismarck to escape the thick clouds.  I took a gamble that I could have simliar luck and agreed to meet him at the abandoned church at Arena.

I got the last fleeting bit of aurora borealis as it faded from view.  Dang.  Better luck next time, I hope!

A couple more Aurora photos to add some color to your day

auroras_28780When I returned from my recent Aurora Borealis photo trip, it was around 4am.  On a work day.  I hastily grabbed and processed a few shots to share, grabbed a combat nap, and went on with my day.  This weekend was busy, but I had the opportunity to peruse the shots from the day and found a couple more that I really like.  The above shot is one that I used for this blog’s Facebook page.

auroras_28792While the layout looks a little jumbled, this one by far had the best colors.  The Northern Lights are a fleeting target, and you don’t often get the same light twice.  In fact, I don’t have a whole lot of different angles from the night because the peak of the lights came and left so suddenly.

I’m going to take another look to see if I have anything else that I haven’t shown already.  Hopefully the next time they come along, I’ll be ready!

Back in the saddle a bit

auroras_28783After dozing off early in my recliner tonight I woke up to a text from a friend who was out on patrol tonight.  He noticed that the Northern Lights were in full swing.  I grabbed a good friend, hopped in the truck, and took off.  We were not disappointed.


auroras_28789As I mentioned recently, I’ve had some health issues and other things that have just plain sidelined me as far as photography and blogging.  This was a great way to get back in the saddle for a bit as much as my pain would allow, and happens to have been one of the better aurora borealis nights in a long time.  Just because I’ve been in my recliner doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching what the sun and skies are up to.


We appear to have arrived along one of my favorite rural roads just in time to see some very spectacular lights.  We saw spikes, we saw ripples, and we saw a lot of them.  I worked the area the best I could within the time allowed, and we pointed the truck back toward the Bizzo once things began to taper off.

I can’t speculate on the frequency with which I ease back into my beloved photo hobby, but hopefully this is a harbinger of good things to come.  With the weather changing in our favor and another spring and summer on the way, things are looking pretty good.  I hope to be on the mend in time for mountain bike and volleyball season, too!