The Chena River Aurora

Ice-up will be happening any day now in Fairbanks. The small ponds and marshes have been locked with ice thick enough to walk on since the end of September, but the rivers have resisted a solid state owing to a not-too-cold October to date. However, in the Interior it seems that 40 below could only be the next day away!

I took the opportunity to find a new aurora watching spot. My goal was to shoot over an open river. I headed to the Chena Lakes Recreation area and found my view at the Granite Tors campground. The North Fork of the Chena was running, snow-covered and beautiful! As I walked up it’s banks I was a bit on edge however. On a moonless night at 12:00 AM in Alaska, moose look the same as the inky blackness. Although they shouldn’t pose any real danger this time of year – they just want to get away – I was not looking to be scared tonight! However, in dramatic fashion a cannoning KAPLOOSH echoed up the river, and the source came from the river only ten feet away from me. A beaver, out for a midnight swim announced its presence and effectively scare me into nearly dropping a load! Lol, nights in Alaska.

The rev of the aurora engine was a bit slow right away, but a broad overhead band suggested that sometime during the night the show could be spectacular! At 12:45 AM the broad, undefined band erupted into curtains of pink and green (another example of Why The Aurora Flares Up). A hint of blue shimmer lit up far edges of the aurora in space. Overhead they danced and danced. The timelapse here captures the night. I have continued to  develop new video editing techniques, and I think some of the motion introduced in this particular timelapse is pretty effective, but I would love to know what you think!

Just as a little fore-shadowing I spent yesterday putting up a friend’s Yurt. It was great, and I shot a fun timelapse of that. More on that soon! 🙂

Here’s a gallery of some images from the night. Be sure to click on them to expand. Thanks for checking in!

9 thoughts on “The Chena River Aurora”

  1. Ian, I do not know enough about timelapse technology to give you any useful feedback regarding that, but I can tell you that these are the most striking and beautiful images that you have produced. The effect over the river is stunning. Is that the moon appearing? Wow! The music seems to enhance the visuals perfectly.

    1. Yup! That’s the moon rise. I actually didn’t mention it in the post, but the constellation Orion came up. It’s my favorite constellation, since it only comes up once the weather changes from summer,
      nothing says ‘fall’ like when Orion appears!

      1. Yeah !! A lot ! We saw some in late August but the more powerful ones are starting right now until April (you can check http://theauroraphotoguide.com/ a local guide who’s updating aurora pictures all the time). Apparently, Höfn is very nice to shoot aurora and according to the guesthouses we’ve visited, a lot of photographers are going there during autumn/winter only to shoot aurora !

  2. As one who has been near water most of my life, I love the river setting. It adds another dimension to amazing colors and dance of the aurora. The halo around the moon was a nice effect, too:) As for the technique of time lapsing, I wish I were more knowledgeable…no critique, just happy I can come along for your adventures!

    1. The halo around the moon was cool! It did that on it’s own. It was interesting because the moon was just a wee sliver. Did you notice the small lens flare it gave off too? A green and red one.

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