Alaska Northern Lights Photo Tour

Let's shoot the lights; the Northern Lights.


  • 2 nights in Fairbanks, AK
  • 4 nights in Wiseman, AK
  • All transport provided
  • Lodging included
  • Max 4 photographers

The fall northern lights tour is a little different from our spring aurora tour.

It’s warmer. Temperatures often will dip below freezing in late October, but are rarely below zero. Our March tours often see temperatures of minus 20 and colder.

Fewer people. Spring seems to be the time of the aurora rush, or Sept and early October. By later October most of the tourists are gone, as much of Alaska winds down for the winter.

I also run this trip a little different logistically, for a number of reasons. One is the beauty of Arctic Alaska and the Brooks Range. The mountain backdrop can be a spectacular setting for northern lights photography.

Tour Schedule

We spend a couple nights in Fairbanks because I think Fairbanks offers a variety of photography opportunities that the Brooks Range simply doesn’t have. Variety being the spice of life, I think that’s a valuable asset for a tour.

We spend a day driving from Fairbanks to get to our lodging at Wiseman. A small rustic B&B run by local Alaskans. meals aren’t provided but the owners do a nice breakfast and we can run down the road to enjoy dinner in Coldfoot. The fare is simple, but well done and plenty of it.

Nights are spent searching for the northern lights. In the arctic we don’t have access to regular internet connection (or cell phone). This means we’re not siting by a phone waiting for a graph on the screen to indicate some activity. So your patience is an invaluable tool to bring along.

I’ll keep the details brief on this page. You can read more info on the spring aurora borealis tour. The primary difference with this tour (other than dates) is that we don’t stay base out of Fairbanks for the entire week.

Instruction

It’s a workshop. I’ll provide instruction and assistance with setting up your camera and finding focus to improve your photography. Different individuals all have different areas to improve so a small group where I can provide more one on one time with each participant is an asset. I’m confident when I say that by the end of the tour you’re understanding of photography and northern lights photography will have improved.

Clothing & Temps

While it’s not as cold as the spring tours, I really think you’re better off planning as if it were. Arctic weather gear is important. We’re not trying to “get by”, we’re aiming to be comfortable. And even a mild breeze at 15˚F will have you feeling the cold. Expect temperatures well below freezing.

So pack well and read the info provided in your Trip Departure Packet.

Bathroom stops

The answer is “sometimes”.  Much of remote Alaska is not well serviced when it comes to roadside bathrooms, so be prepared. You may be doing your business behind a tree.

But some of the places we go shoot do have an outhouse. They’re usually not well kept and cleaned so bring your goodwill. But they do work.

Photography

This will be determined completely by the aurora borealis and the weather. That means we’ll be effectively “on call” during the night. You’ll be heading out to shoot after sunset and then waiting to see what happens with the aurora. The aurora borealis can come on anytime, right after sunset or later at night. We’ll use every option available to best predict when the displays might occur but for the most part it’s a waiting game of cat and mouse. Be patient.

What's Provided?

Your lodging in both Fairbanks and Wiseman.

Transport to and from shooting locations in our comfortable AWD van.

I’ll bring a couple thermoses and cups for tea, coffee and hot chocolate to wile away the night when we’re not shooting.

GETTING THERE

You’ll need to travel to Fairbanks. We’ll meet there. Fairbanks has a major international airport so it’s pretty straightforward. If you like you can fly to Anchorage and drive up. Allow 6-7 hours or longer depending on road conditions. The photo tour will base out of Fairbanks, move north to Wiseman, and return to Fairbanks, so when we finish up you can fly back home right from Fairbanks as well.

ACCOMMODATIONS

You’ll be staying in a hotel in Fairbanks and a B&B in Wiseman.

No you do not need to pay a single supplement fee for your own room in Fairbanks. If you need your own room in Wiseman, please discuss that with me.

Breakfast is included at the hotel but we’re often not awake for breakfast hours.

COMMUNICATIONS

Yes you’ll have cell service and and internet available in Fairbanks.

GEAR

I don’t rent winter clothing or photography gear. Start with Prospectors in Fairbanks for your winter clothing. If you need camera gear let me know. Your Trip Info Packet will cover all your gear/equipment needs.

RECOMMENDED

Weather delays are not unusual with Alaska air travel at any time of year so you should aim to get to Fairbanks the day before the trip begins. Spend the night and we’ll meet up on Day 1 of the trip in Fairbanks.

Snowshoes are not needed.

Where Are We?

Why Move Location?

The primary reason I run this tour a little differently to our primary spring aurora tour is to offer something different for folks who’ve already taken the Fairbanks tour. Various guests have joined me on that tour 2 and even 3 weeks, and it’s nice to add some variety to that.

Variety is, after all, the spice of life, right? And northern lights photography, for all that amazingly dramatic activity in the sky, really comes down to our foregrounds. So it’s nice to have a trip with a different location for folks who are looking to add to their northern lights photo portfolios.

Some people like the more dramatic landscape of the Brooks Range, though we typically travel to similar locales on the Fairbanks tour. Some folks prefer the sweeping vistas and the comfort of a week in the city. So we spend time in each.

Which one is “better”? Honestly, whichever trip happens to get better weather and lights activity. I’ve had great nights on either trips and I’ve had long slow nights of no activity on either trip. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Which is why I think a weeklong trip is the way to go for a northern lights photo tour. It’s all about time in the field.

Perhaps the biggest difference for clients is the “downtime” options. In Fairbanks you have much more going on, you have regular cell and internet service and life is a bit easier. In Wiseman, you’re not going to walk down the street to the local museum and fill in your afternoon time.

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