2020 Northern Lights Calendar – June Photo

This is the June photograph in my 2020 calendar.

The June image was photographed on September 2, 2016 at 12:20 AM looking through the trees over Lake Superior at Twelve Mile Beach Campground in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This image was shot on the same family trip in the UP as the April photo, just the night/morning before. And my family watched the aurora with me in the early part of the night this time!

We had left Marquette earlier in the day to start the drive toward Pictured Rocks. Until this year all drive up campsites in Pictured Rocks were first come, first serve, so we were not sure where we would be staying. We arrived at the Hurricane River Campground to find it full, its small so I wasn’t surprised as it was late in the day. So we hurried back to Twelve Mile Beach Campground and were lucky to grab one of the last two sites available for the night. It worked out well as I had never photographed the aurora from this location.

Lake Superior seen from the sandy bluff at Twelve Mile Beach Campground.
My daughter wading in Lake Superior.
Sunset through the trees at Twelve Mile Beach Campground.

After setting up camp we drove back down to the Hurricane River to hang out for a bit, the kids ended up in the chilly water of course. Then back to camp to make dinner, a campfire and wait for it to be dark enough to see and photograph the aurora. About an hour after sunset we wandered down to the sandy bluff and beach. And yes the aurora was glowing bright. However I think my wife wanted to see more colors with her eyes the way the camera can pick them up. And I must admit it can be a bit disappointing to some and not as spectacular in person.

I made a cool photo of her standing on the bluff watching the aurora over Lake Superior. Then while shooting through the trees I noticed some aurora rays higher in the sky. These were different then I had seen before. Not like the light pillars that shoot up from the aurora arc and these rays were much higher in the sky. They didn’t last long and although I did make a few images I wish I would have been ready and made a better image of them.

My wife looking out over Lake Superior and the Northern Lights.
Aurora rays higher in the sky.
My wife and daughter watching the Northern Lights.

My son wasn’t as into watching the lights much and I think if I remember correctly my wife was getting a bit cold. So they headed back to camp and the warm fire while my daughter and I went down to the beach to sit, watch and make some more photos. Sitting with her watching the sky and listening to the waves hit the shore was awesome. Having the opportunity to experience this together was special to me as I’m usually alone. One of the most relaxing and peaceful moments I’ve had in my life, I didn’t want it to end. Yet it was late, around 11:30PM, and she was worn out. So I walked her to camp before heading back to the bluff for some more photography.

My daughter relaxes on the beach watching the Northern Lights.
My daughter and I standing on the beach.

I reached the stairway that works its way from the bluff down to the beach and the aurora activity seemed to be increasing. It was around midnight now. I made a few images and while the aurora was quite active I wasn’t sure I liked the composition. Looking back at the image now I do like it more, but still not sure. I then walked along the bluff and noticed the light shinning through the trees more brightly than earlier in the night. That’s when I made the image that is the June photo in the calendar. I mentioned in another post, I try and include other things in the compositions, especially in the foreground, to give a feeling of depth and more dimension to the photograph. Not just shooting the sky even though it’s quite spectacular on its own.

I was approaching 1:00 AM and I needed to wake up early to try and get a campsite at Hurricane River (which I did) I decided crawl into the tent for some sleep happy with what I captured.

Looking out over Lake Superior from the stairway leading to the beach,

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

Kp numbers were between 5-6 for part of this 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?

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing!

Bryan