A few days ago just I did something that I never do. I went out at night to photograph the northern lights with three other people. My brother, sister and my sister’s daughter-in-law made the trip out to Elk Island Park to see the northern lights. I found it odd that both my brother and sister hadn’t really seen the northern lights before. After all, we all grew up in the same house and I remember as a pre-teen lying in the grass under a summer night sky with my best friend Russ watching stars and trying to figure out where the constellations were when every few days we would observe the aurora.
When the four of us got to the parking log by Astotin Lake in the park it was dark. There are no lights in the parking lot and in most of the park. Without a moon illuminating the landscape it was difficult to even see the ground. That’s when my sister’s daughter-in-law who is from Taiwan asked if I were ever afraid to be in the dark alone. It dawned on me, no pun intended that almost without exception I am usually all by my lonesome in the middle of nowhere.
I told her that I really never worried about that as I was always interested in what was happening in the sky above.
As it turned out the four of us got to see the milky way and I pointed out a few constellations but the aurora never showed up.
A few days earlier when the aurora were spectacular I was again by myself at night. With no moon it was almost impossible to see any buildings or trees far from the road. Because I have spent so much time driving around the area north of where I live taking photos it is like walking through my house in the dark. I know where everything is.
I was close to the twin grain bins that I had photographed many times before and thought that I would make my way to them. Again because of the darkness unless you knew where they were it would be easy to drive by them. They sit about 150 meters off the road on a hill.
Once I got to the spot on the road closest to them I pulled over, grabbed my headlamp and camera gear and in almost total darkness made my way up the hill. There was rusting in the mowed flax field all around me. Was it mice or rabbits or coyotes scurrying about in the dark? I didn’t know but wasn’t worried about any threat to my health. After all you never hear of man mauled by field mouse or ravaged by owl stories in the news.
When I took the photos of the aurora to the north the grain bins were all but invisible in the photos. By processing the image twice, once for the sky and once with the foreground and bins lightened up I was able to combine the two photos and selectively lighten the areas that I wanted to show up, the areas that were almost black before.
The result is above.
Now the sun is going into a solar minimum I have read and the chances of good auroras are diminishing.
Along with the diminishing aurora, the leaves have finally dropped from most of the trees and snow is forecast for the weekend. It is cold, for October. It was around zero Celsius today but there was a strong wind that made it seem much colder on my hour long walk with the dog.
I have to chuckle because if we get “cold” like this in February we will all be saying how nice it is outside.🙂
Here’s to winter and goodbye to autumn.