The aurora borealis; few phrases carry quite the same mystique as the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
Watch the timelapse video below, check out the photos and details on the page and give me a shout if you have any questions. A Rising Vapor column - Click on the image above to see more vertical Aurora borealis Photos.
This photo tour is a great opportunity for photographers interested in shooting the aurora borealis. The advantage of all the resources a local Alaskan may have that folks from elsewhere typically do not. Carl Donohue; an experienced and professional backcountry guide, frontcountry guide, photographer, photo tour leader and teacher.
As an artist, I'm not only a photographer, I'm also a musician, having graduated from Atlanta Institute of Music and taught and played guitar for a living for most of my adult life. This photo tour covers your accommodation and your travel from Fairbanks, as well as professional photo tour and guiding services. Though not imperative, it's probably a good idea to bring a set of snowshoes if you have some.
There has already been quite a lot of interest in the 2017 dates, so if you're thinking about a trip, please contact me directly. If these dates don't fit your itinerary, please contact me asap and ask about an alternative. A sampling of aurora borealis images from Alaska: We'll be driving wherever we need to go to seek out great foreground locations, clear skies and spectacular aurora borealis displays. All information and images on these pages are copyrighted, and remain the property of Expeditions Alaska. We only had two sunrises and two sunsets in Acadia National Park, and the original goal was to hit Cadillac Mountain for the second sunrise doing Bass Harbor Head Light for the first sunrise. Out of all of the trips we’ve taken this year, oddly enough, this is the trip booked furthest in advance. When I do HDR, this is usually the route I go, but usually the tonemapped layer is about 33% to 49% opacity. Would you have hiked to Cadillac Mountain for the “bragging rights” of being the first person in the US to see the sunrise? And few, if any, natural phenomena carry quite the same magic and power over the human spirit, over seemingly the entire natural world, than the Aurora borealis.
Check out this gallery of images from 2013 trip participant, David Campbell, from Australia. While no one can ever say with certainty exactly when and where the aurora borealis display might occur, Fairbanks is certainly one of the best locations in Alaska to view the northern lights.
Firstly, it means you aren't stuck shooting the same scenes and compositions night after night.
Given the aurora borealis' often fickle willingness to display, a compounding challenge is finding clear skies.


If the weather threatens to disrupt our planned itinerary, I'll jump on the phone in the afternoon, call my friends in Glennallen and see what the skies look like over there; or south toward Denali National Park. I'm a certified Wilderness First Responder, and have years of experience in the field with folks. I've spent years as a music instructor, and working as an instructor in the arts is something I enjoy immensely. Being local, it's often easy enough for me to accommodate requests for a custom trip, or substitute dates. Below I've posted a few other images from various aurora photo tour trips in February and also the fall. Flexible, experienced and knowledgable photo tour leader, and a a perfect centralized base to work from make this one of Alaska's premiere nature photo tours. This spot is named for its vertical sea stack of granite isolated from the cliff by coastal erosion.
Unfortunately, with the government shutdown, getting to Cadillac Mountain would have been a long hike in the dark (rather than a drive and a short hike, as it would normally be) and I was a little apprehensive about doing that since I was by myself. I usually make suspect decisions that reap big dividends, and I think this would have fit that mould. I’ve wanted to go to Acadia National Park for a few years, but airfare into Portland, Maine (or Bar Harbor) has always been cost prohibitive.
I try to never exceed 50% opacity, because that’s when I think the photo starts exhibiting the telltale signs of HDR. The same thing is, when I compared this photo to the original shot that came out of Adobe Camera Raw with a basic preset applied, the differences were minimal. So far, this fall has already provided photographers with some spectacular opportunities, and the coming spring promises to be just as grand.
Just as critically, it's a great central location within Alaska to get around the state to other potential shooting locations. Clouds can roll in and cover the most wondrous spectacle you ever saw, and it's awfully frustrating to not have the option available to jump in your car and drive a hundred miles off to clearer skies. Secondary options will be the endless array of Alaska winter scenics and landscape photography opportunities in interior Alaska. You'll be heading out to shoot in the dusky afternoon for sunset options, and then waiting to see what happens with the aurora. This is not really a photo workshop, as the purpose here is not instruction, but rather shooting.
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. Deposits are generally non-refundable, unless there are some truly extenuating circumstances. Also, it was a much shorter hike from the barricades, and all along a well-maintained trail right beside Ocean Drive. Earlier in the year, I got an alert from Airfarewatchdog that it was less than $200 round trip, so we promptly booked.


What really impressed me was all of the great lobstah pounds that were seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The cycle will likely begin to decline sometime in the next few years, so for this trip, sooner is better than later.
McKinley, and the next evening you could be standing on the high open subarctic tundra, composing the snow-laden spruce trees of the boreal forest against a swirling, Rising Vapor column. You simply can't beat the benefit of local knowledge when it comes to finding locations to shoot the aurora borealis. See this comprehensive guide to shooting aurora borealis photography for an in-depth look at what works and what doesn't work (better yet, download the eBook version of that entire series of articles via this link).
I'm always more than willing to offer any assistance of course, and share what experience I have that may be of benefit to you. The photo tour will base out of Fairbanks, so when we finish up, you can fly back home right from Fairbanks as well.
Granted, it’s not as impressive as the monuments out west, but how many of those are bordered by the ocean? My impression is that this isn’t normally a popular sunrise spot even when the park is open, so I was a little surprised when a couple of Russian guys approached me in the dark as I was getting set up here! We’d drive down small country roads where virtually no one lived, only to be greeted by incredibly busy restaurants at the end of the drive. I have no idea why, but I kept reprocessing it, and it kept looking totally different when I saved it. I did all of this Photoshop CS6, layering my tonemapped image on top of my evening exposure and adjusting the opacity. A diversity of photos is available that simply is not possible when locked in a remote cabin in some inaccessible backcountry wilderness. 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. I also did several color balance adjustment layers in an attempt to get the colors of the kiss of the morning sun on the sea stack correct. There was literally only room for one tripod in a small clearing on the cliff where I was standing (part of the reason I suspect it’s not a popular spot). No filters for aurora borealis photography, but your standard polarizer and GND filters are helpful for any landscape photography we may do.
They managed to find other spots and we chatted for a while, but it did seem humorous to me that the three of us were all right there when there was probably no one else in Acadia remotely close to us. If you have any questions about camera gear or clothing options, just send me a note before the tour; but it's mostly covered in the link above.



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