2020 Northern Lights Calendar – April Photo

The April image was photographed over Lake Superior at the mouth of the Hurricane River on the night/morning of September 3, 2016 at 12:39 AM. On this trip I was with my family and the Aurora was active 3 nights in a row, so they were able to witness the magic of the northern lights! More on that with the June photo. This image was shot the second night/early morning while everyone else was sleeping after a long day of hiking and sunset Pictured Rocks cruise on Lake Superior. I tried to get my daughter up but wasn’t going to happen this time. 🙂

Sun behind Grand Portal Point on the sunset cruise.
Another tour boat is dwarfed by Indian Head.
Sun shining through open section of Grand Portal Point.

As I’ve mentioned the Hurricane River Campground in Pictured Rocks is one of my favorite campgrounds in the state so when in the UP I and we often end up there. Always when visiting Pictured Rocks or towards the end of a trip working my way home. So I have quite a few aurora images from this location.

Our camp at mealtime.

I started photographing the aurora around 10:00 PM and continued for the next four hours moving to different locations along the beach and shoreline. The display was bright and pulsating with light pillars shooting into the sky off and on. As you can see in the calendar image and some of the others posted here I prefer to use the shore ling and/or some type of layering or framing instead of just shots of the sky. This gives the image for interest and a sense of place.

First image shot around 10:00PM
Self portrait shot along the shore a quarter mile or so from the river around 11:30 PM

There were a few other people on the beach and at first it was a challenge keeping them out of the photos especially when they would turn their headlamps on. Of course it was very dark and I was tucked up under a tree by the mouth of the river so I’m sure they had no idea I was even out there. I debated about including them in some photos, however ultimately the photojournalist in me took over and I decided to include that human element in the images to help tell a story. I think photos should tell a story, not just be pretty pictures, even though I don’t always succeed at that.

Another shot with the group of people watching the show.

I will say looking back on the images I wish I would have stayed in one place and really focused on the changing lights, and it would have been great to shoot a time lapse. I will say I often second guess myself on choosing where to shoot and what to shoot. Was it the best spot? Did I miss something? Would this have been better? Yet I’ve also learned I really need to choose and stick with it. Yes I might miss some shots. But if I keep changing while shooting I’ll miss all the shots. It also seems looking back at the images the activity was still going when I called it a night. Not really sure why I stopped shooting other than fatigue. I should have just sat in the sand and fell asleep.

Although I will say when shooting at night next to the lake or rivers/waterfalls at night I do think about bears from time to time. I have never seen a bear in Pictured Rocks, tracks on the beach yes, however I would never hear one walk up on me in the dark with the sound of the waves and water in my ears. I have to admit it would be cool though.

This is a favorite image of mine! (I wanted the shot with the people in the calendar)
One of the last shots I took on this outing around 1:00 AM.

Exposure data: ISO 3200, 20 seconds at f/4.5, Nikon D750, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm. My focus point on this lens is over the right side of the infinity symbol ∞ < on the lens at 17mm. Its closer to the center of the symbol if I shoot at 35mm. I want to mention you will notice many of my images are in the 20 second range. Looking back on the nights the aurora was very active I wish I would have shot more in the 5 second range to get a put more texture or detail in the lights. So I guess I need to keep hunting!

If you want to see the scientific data on that day go to this link – HERE

There was a G2 geomagnetic storm starting to hit earth with Kp numbers hitting between 4 and 6 through the night.

The Kp Index numbers are not the only info to look at on aurora forecast, however it’s a good place to start. You can find more info on Kp numbers here. KP Info Here.

Here is a link to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What are the northern lights?

People ask is this what lights look like with the naked eye? The short answer is no. It has to do with how human eyes see at night, basically in black and white and not very well. More info here.

You can order a calendar HERE

Have you seen the northern lights?

One more thing. I know I’m not good at writing. I plan to keep at it though even past writing about the calendar. Maybe you will find something interesting, useful or even learn something.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing!

Bryan