Saturday, September 12, 2015

Aurora Borealis September 7, 2015

It has been well over 20 years since I last saw the Aurora Borealis. I can only recall seeing them twice in my lifetime, once in splendid colors from the tip of Door County and the other in a dancing array of brilliant white lights against the remote skies of the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

With promising forecasts for a spectacular Aurora on September 7, 2015, I ventured to the mouth of Two-hearted River in Luce County Michigan shortly after nightfall .

Mouth of the Two-Hearted River

I arrived on the southern shore of Lake Superior to find the Northern Lights staring to display. I made my first attempts to capture Aurora images with less than ideal equipment for night time photography. Although my results pale in comparison to Aurora images I've seen, I was still pleased with my first attempt.

Aurora Borealis above Lake Superior

The scene was serene and incredible all the same. Sitting on the shore of the revered Big Lake under balmy temperatures with a light breeze to my face while the lapping waves of Lake Superior lulled me into transcendence. I watched the lights swell and fade, dancing above the lake until they gradually diminished.

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As difficult as it was, I eventually left the lakeshore heading south toward my family's Pike Lake property. My intention was to check the sky one last time on the open crest of the north-south road leading away from the Two-hearted River Campground. Upon stopping I found the lights had resumed in intense splendor. I set up my camera and began photographing and studying the patterns of photon arcs and dancing lights to the northeast. Mesmerized with the backdrop behind the burnt pines of the Duck Lake fire it occurred to me I should scan the entire northern sky.

What I discovered was beyond breath-taking. I felt humbled and awestruck as the lights crescendoed and danced in beautiful fluid brilliance unlike anything I had seen before. Nothing I could orchestrate with my camera comes remotely close to capturing the experience of that night. The perfection of that solitary eve, in the remoteness of a place dearest to my heart, will be forever etched in mind's eye.

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