Kotzebue Aurora

Dear Wabisabi friends,

As some of you know I’ve spent most nights this last week wandering the frozen sea and the frozen tundra in order to photograph the aurora borealis.   Despite a poor forecast from the Aurora Forecast Center almost every night has offered up spectacular displays beyond any I have seen before.  Every color in the spectrum is visible–though the most dramatic of all for me is the way the curtains of red light wash over the blue sky resulting in deep violet shot through with chartreuse and tourmaline and tangerine.  It is always below zero when I am out, but this has caused little to no problem until last night when the mercury pushed close to -20 F with a 5 knot wind.  The handle on my very well made panhead snapped like a twig.  One of my cameras has simply decided it’s done.  No more photos from it until I return to a more hospitable latitude.  I’ve a lovely bit of frost nip on my right hand–this from touching my tripod sans glove! The mountain pass near the lake where we did a lot of our field work last summer recorded the lowest temperature in Alaska history the other night–a terrifying -96 F, a minus 40 something with wind is a deadly thing.  I can’t imagine enduring it in a skin tent!  This is, the cold aside, nothing less than a visual wonderland.  If you are interested, please feel free to check out a gallery of last night’s work;  I’ll leave it up for a little while until the real editing begins, at which point something resembling discernment will have to be invoked!  You can find my Kotzebue Auroras in the Projects menu of my website tamabaldwin.com or by clicking directly here:  http://tamabaldwin.com/galleries/aurora/.  You’ll just have to imagine the soundtrack for these images for now which is mostly an exquisite silence punctuated by the sound of human animals walking through the snow.  I have heard a wolf cry out two nights in a row very close to where I was working, which suggests there is a den nearby.  One of my friends has seen an arctic fox crouched in a white heap just feet from us–though I couldn’t separate it from the willow studded snow. I have seen ptarmigan and ravens and sled dogs, lots and lots of sled dogs and lots and lots of ravens who steal the dog teams’ food.  I have seen a lot of tracks on the sea too–a mile off shore the tracks of both fox and caribou.

Peace to you all.  Stay safe and warm.






2 responses

  1. Jesse Singerman


    Gorgeous pictures. How amazing to really see these lights! They look astonishing.

    We had a 24 hour thaw. Now freezing again. Nothing like you of course, but still…

    Keep your gloves on!


    February 21, 2014 at 9:14 am

    • Hey Jesse–John’s been keeping me posted on the madness! I am hoping to see snow still when I come home, but I’m weird like that!

      February 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

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