THE AURORA WERE out in spectacular form this past week. My memories of the Aurora consist of my parents dragging me out of the house to look up at a murky red blob. It wasn't awe inspiring, not at all like those pictures you see in tourist guides. But, last Tuesday night, I got really, really lucky.
I went up to Flattop with a couple of friends to shoot photos for my fledgling clothing company, “Think Tank”. I started it with a couple of friends last July as a joke, but now it actually resembles something that could be mistaken as a company. We try to send the message of introspective thought with each of our products, and while we only have one product right now (a logo hat), the intense Aurora activity gave us a perfect setting to get some stunning shots for advertising this concept. I’ll write more about Think Tank next week.
On top of Flattop it was clear and with the full moon, the mountains would be lit up to produce some pretty solid shots. When we got up there, we realized that we were the latest victims of Alaska's fickle weather. It was now mostly cloudy, obscuring the moon, but the moon was still too bright for us to use the city lights in our shots. So we tried to make do for about half an hour, but really didn't get anything decent. Then my friend glanced northward, and thought he saw something green in the sky. I thought he was just seeing things so I ignored him. But then his voice got hysterical as he cried, "Guys, look! It's the northern lights!"
They were dancing like crazy, and were an emerald green shade reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz's palace. For the next 40 minutes, I took nearly 100 pictures of the Aurora, the uninspiring red blob of my youth now a distant memory.
I tried to get more shots for the next few nights, but I just wasn't lucky enough. I saw the incredible light show on Thursday, and even tried to climb Little O'Malley on Friday in hopes of getting above the clouds, but I didn't catch a glimpse of them. Really what it came down to was dumb luck. If you're in the right place at the right time, you'll get a picture that’s worthy of a publication. If not, you froze your butt off for the night, and all you got from it is a sore neck.
This is another reason why I'll miss Alaska. There is no other place in the U.S. where you can see natural phenomena like this, save maybe Hawai'I with the sunset Green Flash. I'll miss the prospect of being able to see the lights 6 months out of the year but now I have some great photos to remember how the Aurora can really look.