Ethereal dance through the darkness
I have always wanted to see and photograph the northern lights. Originally, my plan was to see them during my trip to Iceland last November. However, while planning is essential, luck also plays a major role. To maximize my chances, I signed on for an aurora borealis photo tour with Expeditions Alaska.
Unsurprisingly, the week-long tour runs on a nocturnal schedule. I spent nights and the early morning in either anticipation or awe. I saw the aurora 4 out of the 6 nights, and captured mesmerizing photographs of it 3 out of the 4 times. I found the whole process to be quite meditative. Although I had an extremely goal-oriented mindset throughout the entire trip, I found appreciation for the process of chasing and waiting as well. For instance, during one of the nights, the sky was immeasurably clear, yet no aurora ever showed up. My silver lining was I managed to snap up some nice photos of the Milky Way!
The weather is cold! It is important to dress in ample layers. The wind is worse than the cold. Under my snow pants, I wore two additional layers consisting of a thermal base layer and fleece lined sweatpants. Under my parka, I wore thermal base layer, sweatshirt, and thick fleece pullover. Finding heavy duty snow boots are also essential, as I often found myself standing in snow up to my knees. One the coldest night, I ended up wearing two pairs of socks to ensure my toes stayed warm. Same for mitts, I layered liner gloves underneath for additional warmth. Initially, the idea was so I could remove my mitt yet still toggle with my camera without fully exposing my hand. However, I would frequently have my right hand completely exposed so I could shoot faster. My left hand, on the other hand, felt quite toasty most of the time.