The first night we caught a glimpse of the aurora. A weak Kp index coupled with a scum of late-arriving clouds hammered our efforts, but it did give us a chance to hone in on the skills needed for shooting nice photos of the aurora. Night two found us south of Fairbanks at a remote cabin. The conversation was lively and lessons in three-point lighting and light painting helped balance the night while we armed ourselves by the fire, snacked on s’mores, and waited…
On the third night, the skies exploded with color and movement. Overlooking a frozen lakebed north of Fairbanks, we watched as the skies came alive right at dusk. For the next five hours, the skies were alive with the aurora caused by the sun’s coronal burst a few days beforehand. To say the night was remarkable seems like an understatement.
Waking up the next day, it’s hard to leave such a fantastic spot with the night’s memories still fresh on everyone’s minds. Undaunted, we head south across the state for our next destination – the quirky burgh of Talkeetna and the Denali Overlook Lodge. It’s a long drive there, but we stop and photograph roadside landscapes along the way, see a lynx and ptarmigans, and discuss both the history and contemporary lore of the state’s midsection.
Once at our edge, we don’t have to travel far. We have dinner and photograph the Denali Range from the deck of our lodge. From here, a creek is slowly coming back to life from a frozen winter’s slumber and trickles past us. Across the broad valley, the entire Alaska Mountain range is before us. Near the center, Denali stands sentinel. While most of the mountain is visible, the summit is shrouded in clouds – a predicament that continues for the next two days we’re here.