It was on the Friday before the Halloween weekend that I got notification that there was to be a significant solar storm coming into play for the next few nights. In great determination to capture its beauty in some spectacular places, I packed up the van and my kids and I took off to go spend the next few nights chasing that beautiful Aurora.
Our first night we ended up at one of our absolute favourite places to be, Frances Lake. As I had packed in quite the hurry, I took the time to start organizing and setting up the van for the winter season. Winter clothes were unpacked and hung up on an improvised coat rack, heater hooked up and started for the evening, camera setup with all batteries charged. We put on a movie and cuddled up in our bed and devoured a decent amount of goodies as is the tradition on our van ventures.
The problem with a comfortable bed, and warm temperatures is that it makes it easy to fall asleep, and hard to find the motivation to go out into the cold. The good thing about being in a van, is you have the windows to keep watch and monitor without having to go out into that cold! I woke up around 11:00pm and took a look at what was happening in the sky, things were nice and clear at that point, but no aurora, so I rolled back over and slept a little longer, 12:00am there began a bit of green on the horizon, 12:30am I step outside in my winter gear, only to discover that the sky had quickly become overtaken by fog from the lake.
The next morning we woke up to the same wall of fog. In the daylight, it was incredible to witness, how beautiful it was, illuminated with golden sunlight, billowing across the calm waters, flowing gently though the trees. We spent a good few hours throwing rocks into the lake, crunching ice and playing in the snow. We packed up again and decided that there would be no opportunities there for night fall, so it was time to head to higher altitudes, away from water, and so began our journey up the Nahanni Range road.
The days journey was full of happiness, the mountain ranges were incredible to view, and even more incredible to find camp in. We had only gone a little ways up this road before, so to continue past that point and see so much more was thrilling. We settled ourselves at the Nahanni Range campground, a beautiful site nestled in between mountains with a river running through the far end. So beautiful and so calm.
We started a fire in the little open cabin there, made pancakes, ate mini apple pies and laughed the evening away before settling into the van for the night.
I woke up around 12:00am once again, expecting to see some bright lights as predicted, but alas, once again, there was little there. I went back to bed and rolled over every hour until around 3am when I decided the predictions were not going to come to be this time. I was feeling disappointed, but decided I was going to get up and make the best of it regardless, and I am glad that I did.
You see, when I started night sky photography, I found glee in any clear night sky, I was excited to capture the stars, I was excited to capture the milky way, things were new and felt limitless. After chasing aurora for the majority of my nights, I kind of forgot about the rest of what was up there and the joy it could bring spending time capturing it. I wandered about the campsite playing with tree-lines and silhouettes and ended up with the image shown in this post. Ironically it is one of my absolute favourites I have captured this season. The beauty of the milky way shining bright with a soft aurora bordering it, the varying colour widespread through the scene and the thousands of stars igniting the sky, and the imagination.
I spent a long time just sitting in the snow, watching those millions of stars move around the trees and the mountains. It is funny how you can come with the expectation of one thing, only to find beauty in something else.
The next day, it was of equal beauty, the beginning of winter here had brought with it a beautiful coating of hoar frost, every surface was coated in it, glistening and glittering in the golden sunlight.
We slowly made our way home, drinking in every beautiful thing we saw.
The hunt for the aurora may have not been successful, but sometimes it’s not meant to be. Sometimes things fail in order to bring focus to things we may have otherwise forgotten or simply would have not noticed.
May all your adventures provide you with new perspectives and remind you of old ones.
Photographic prints, canvases, and metal prints of Yukon Aurora and the night sky, including the one in this post, are available here in my Yukon Aurora Gallery.
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A Break in the night sky
The night skies this autumn, have not been very forgiving when it comes to showing her beautiful limitless self. Shrouded in clouds, with strong transitional winds, stars have been barely visible, let alone Aurora. This can make chasing our lovely lights a struggle, and greatly frustrating at times when you know the odds are very high, and you are seeing the many amazing photos from around the world pouring into the photo groups.
I think those struggles, more often than not, help us appreciate the moments we do get to have, just a little bit more than normal. It reminds us that patience is indeed, a virtue, and sometimes that makes the reward taste just that little bit sweeter.
On the eve of October 01 the skies finally cleared, and to my luck, the aurora did come out and in a way I often do not see it here.
I was doing my nightly check around 12:00am, the time when I decide I should go to bed or not, and weigh out my odds of whether setting up the camera for a timelapse is worthwhile, and low and behold, I noticed a swift movement of light. I bundled up in a warm coat, put a couple batteries in my pocket and outside I went to see what was happening.
The skies were bright, there were spires of aurora dancing about behind the tree line facing the lake, a place, I more than often, never see them. No matter what direction I pointed the camera, a green haze could be seen, some areas with shapes, others not. I believe this is caused by the slight fogginess that was present. To the eye the colour was but a tint, but the brightness was brilliant and white. The shapes moved fast in some areas, in other areas it remained fairly static. I fine tuned my settings and decided I would take a wander down to the dock to see what things looked like from down there.
To my great pleasure, the aurora was over the lake, far further than it normally was, usually it is more over the trees, but this time it was quite aways out past them, reflections bright and the lake like a mirror. I sat and watched for quite sometime, until it hit a certain point of brightness, then I wandered into the lake, and setup the camera and began to capture some images. Later when I began to grow quite weary, I set it up for a timelapse (you can watch it on my instagram or YouTube).
It had been quite awhile since I had just sat down under the stars to watch the aurora, to simply enjoy it, and the shot that I came out with from that time, makes me very happy. It felt good to finally capture one of the classic reflection shots over Watson Lake with so many different tones and beautiful variations of light.
The chase continues on, with just a little more patience
Photographic prints, canvases, and metal prints of Yukon Aurora, including the one above, are available here in my Aurora gallery
Sunset Aurora at Frances Lake
Sometimes, our luck does not turn in the way we hope, or expect, that is something one must grow used to when it comes to the chase of the Aurora Borealis. She can be surprising, and there is never a guarantee whether you will see them or not, no matter what the odds are said to be.
Frances Lake is a yearly venture for us, we spend anywhere from a couple weeks to a month time there in Autumn. It is a very important time of bonding between myself and my children and the land. There are many constants that we have grown comfortable with returning to, Aurora had become one of them.
This year, no such luck was to be had, and a stark reminder of how one should never place the term “constant” on something that comes and goes on its own time. It is however, not the aurora that did not stay consistent, oh she was there, often I would wake at night to see the familiar lights behind the clouds, no it was not the aurora, this year it was the lack of clear nights.
Weather was not very forgiving, there were glimpses of sun in the day, scattered throughout dark and stormy clouds. There were rainbows now and then, and beautiful foggy mornings, but clear skies were sparing at night, and the few nights it did clear, it was as dark as well, night. A billion stars that would soon be shrouded by fog.
I did manage to have one moment, one glimpse I was able to capture. The sun was giving its final bit of glow, and low and behold, a very vibrant band came to be, green flashed through the sky from one side to the other through the incoming cloud cover. It was a very challenging capture as there were so many forms of light to attempt to capture, from the bright sky on the right, to the dark on the right, it was either under, or overexposed, it took a lot of time tweaking settings to be able to capture the majority, and come up with this representation of a transition from dusk, to night. The orange of the last light of the sun, the blues of dusk, a mauve as the sky gradients towards the darkening sky where many stars can be seen, is an unusual scene accompanying the aurora.
In the end, while I was humbled in my confidence of returning with the many captures I normally do, I came back happy with a single shot and small time-lapse of what I did manage to capture and felt just as happy.
Nature is full of so many lessons, and in those lessons humbleness and appreciation are in abundance.
Photographic prints, canvases, and metal prints of Yukon Aurora are available here in my Aurora gallery
The beauty in the last moments of light
As the sun disappears, the last of its glow creates a searing edge of light on the brim of the clouds it adorns in colour. The vibrancy is bold, but the light is dim, creating a beautiful play of light and shadow of all sorts. The beauty of the sun is unlimited, and ever awe inspiring in her many forms.
At this time of year, we lose our daylight quite quickly, with that comes earlier, and longer sunsets. Colours become more vibrant, and variant in the transition of autumn to winter. This year our winter seems to be arriving much earlier, and the skies do seem to be hinting at that conclusion. My favourite part of these transitioning sunsets are the fleeting minutes when the sun has drifted below the horizon, and the light has dimmed down close to dark, all that remains are deep vibrant hues that saturate heavily around the area of the setting sun. It is only at that moment I can capture images like these.
For these shots I like to use a zoom lens on a tripod to get in tight to where the sun is dropping. I sit and watch, and wait as it slowly goes down. I monitor the settings every few minutes to ensure I expose the image correctly, as I want it neither too light, or dark as that would take away from the actual tone experienced in the moment. White balance is always a little tricky with these, sometimes I use a grey card to make sure I have set it correctly, but mostly I just compare the camera to the eye, and get it as close as I can, then fine tune in post production.
Here is to many more beautiful autumn sunsets, the ever warming light that guides us through the coming dark days of winter.
Photographic prints, canvases, and metal prints of this image are available here in my sunset gallery, as well as many other beautiful captures of the Yukon sun
A bit about me
Just a girl obsessed with nature, creative ventures, and a lust for adventure
For those that are new here, my name is Charun Stone. I am a photographer, artist, and northern nature enthusiast living in the Yukon, the place I call my home, my souls place of belonging. I have a strong belief in our connection with nature being the key to what makes us human, the lessons she offers us can guide us to our best version of ourselves.
I have started this blog to help me better refine and focus on what drives me, and inspires me in my adventures. To be able to share my experiences and thoughts about our place in nature, and how I have learned from it.
I use many different forms of expression to share what I see and feel, photography is one of the expressions that I love most to share, as it leaves a lot to interpretation and allows everyone to take something personal from each image.
I hope you enjoy my writings, my thoughts, and my visual expressions. My gallery and website will be updated as time goes on, for those that are interested in my work, prints, canvases, and metal prints are available for purchase through the gallery pages. Any and all support is greatly appreciated, as it enables me to do more, and share more.
Never stop exploring, never stop listening to what the winds have to say, never stop dreaming of the tops of mountains.
Naturally Charun Photography