Northern Life

Greetings from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, on the southern bank of the La Grande River in northern Quebec. Was it worth the 1500-mile drive…?

Excerpt from our group conversation:

“Hurry! The orange moon is rising above the river.”
“Ooooh! The northern lights are starting!”
“Ack! Which should we shoot first?”
“Can I squeeze them both into one frame…maybe…?”

I’ve been lucky enough to see and shoot the northern lights in 2013, 2016 and 2019. Guess I know when to schedule my next northern adventure.

Below, Mireille watches the lights. I was especially happy to have enjoyed this event with a group of people who, despite living in northern Quebec, have not become jaded by these displays and were just as fascinated with the show as I was.

Looking up at the stars through the mikiwahp poles. The shot below was Isabelle’s idea. (Thank you!) The poles in the upper part of the frame are illuminated by moonlight, the others by house lights. A shooting star can be seen in the upper right.

All 25 photos from this night can be viewed in this gallery, where you can also purchase prints.

Come for the Food, Stay for the Show

My first night in the high country did not disappoint. Drove out to the edge of town around 0100 and found the creatures I came here to see; the first I’ve seen of them since Iceland in 2013. On that trip, I was so intent on getting photos that I didn’t take any time to just sit and enjoy the show. This morning, after I put the camera gear back in the trunk, I watched the sky just as the coyotes started up. It sounded like there were ten or more of them, scattered in all directions. They kept howling for a good two minutes, then stopped abruptly. What an amazing soundtrack to the light show above.

Here’s the Big Dipper getting in on the action…

And as I’ve said before, I don’t like photos of this car with the top “up,” but I did want it in the shot and I didn’t feel like trying to put the top down in the cold and the dark…

Plenty of sites online will warn you against trying to capture an aurora using the camera on your phone. But those cameras have gotten much better recently. With the right manual settings (ISO 700 at 8 seconds) and a little tripod for phones, I was able to get the shot below. Grainy, but not half bad…