Northern Lights

September 15th, 2010 by

The aurora borealis (northern lights) light up the night sky above a tent. Campsite in the Mentasta Mountains, boreal forest, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

The aurora borealis (northern lights) light up the night sky above a tent. Campsite in the Mentasta Mountains, boreal forest, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

From my last summer/fall camping trip in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, for this year – well, so far, anyway. If you think sleeping in the big city is hard, with all those big city lights, try sleeping in a tent under this kind of light. 🙂

What a treat it is to see the aurora borealis (or ‘northern lights’). Nothing quite touches that experience for a little slice of magic. It’s mystical, each and every time.

Fall is a great time to see the aurora – the skies are dark, often clear, and it’s not yet 40 below zero, like it can be in the dead of winter.

For shooting the northern lights, I crank up the ISO of the camera, open the lens to its widest aperture, and shoot with as high a shutter speed as I can. Fast lenses, like a 1.8 or even a 2.8 make a big difference. They’re also heavier than smaller aperture lenses, which makes it a trade-off for a backpacking trip. Sometimes though, such as when the aurora borealis is out, that trade-off becomes moot. The extra weight is well worth the effort. A small headlamp to light up the tent, set up the tripod, and click the shutter. Good night folks.



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    7 Responses to “Northern Lights”

    1. Michel Says:

      What a great shot. I hope to see it once myself.


    2. Doug Roane Says:

      Awesome, Carl! So if you’re wide open, where are you focusing? Can you order me a light show like this the next time I’m up there? The rare times I have seen this in Montana, it has been pretty lame!

    3. Ron Niebrugge Says:

      That is awesome Carl!

    4. Carl Says:

      Hey Doug – Focus at infinity. With a wide angle lens that’s going to be close enough to make it work. It’s really the only option, regardless. Actually, I DID order a light show like this when you were here last time .. apparently it was on back order and there was a delay. 🙂

      Thanks all,



    5. Ty Says:

      Awesome shot! My friends Rob and Jan were just in Wrangell-St. Elias last month on Sprinter Tour. What a truly wonderful experience!

    6. Guy Says:

      Wow, this is nice!
      One of these days I’d like to see it for myself.


    7. Carl Says:

      Hey Guy/Ty

      Thanks folks – I appreciate it. The northern lights are indeed a treat.



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