A Sometimes Early Riser

It’s not often that I’m the early bird. Night owl, absolutely. But when you stay up late like we do, you don’t tend to race the sun in the morning. When I do happen to be awake early in the morning, it’s almost always because we’ve got early plans…or I woke up early and found the sights out our upstairs windows too inspirational not to grab the camera.

Last night, I knew we had a chance of northern lights, so I was watching my online feeds to see if I should venture out with my camera. Around midnight, we started the bedtime routine with our furry house companions, and decided we’d let our text messaging service alert us if the solar storm ramped up. After all, we had plans for some routine maintenance on the car in Traverse City around 10:00, so our usual 9:00am wake time wasn’t going to cut it.

Sometime shortly after 4:00 Tony’s phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number, but it woke us up enough to check on the aurora alerts. As luck would have it, the storm was expected to surge in about 50 minutes. I grabbed all my gear – including layers because it was 45-degrees! – and headed for Torch Lake.

I huddled on a bench on the south end of Torch for over an hour, capturing over 100 images of the dancing northern lights. Normally I’d be disappointed in any cloud cover, but I actually quite like the little bit of color the Alden light pollution adds (Alden is the little town on the right side of the image whose marina lights are painting the photo orange). As the storm wound down, I packed my gear, and headed back to bed.

One of the first photos I shot
aurora 8-28 beginning

A photo about halfway through the set
aurora 8-28 middle

The last photo before I called it quits
aurora 8-28 end

And while I very much enjoy these aurora photos, I can’t help but wish I had played my usual night owl; despite the storm intensity being greater around 5:00am, there was more of a light display in the hours I slept through. I’m still happy with these. These are enough :)

15-second time-lapse. Please ignore the way oversaturated image that youtube created for this. Link to the same video on Flickr follows for those who can’t view youtube. Enjoy!

Aurora Excitement

Man o man, I’m excited! I spent some time over the weekend editing the hundreds of aurora photos I took at the very beginning of October. I had good intentions – I planned to edit them quickly and then share them out. Only I got busy making and sharing other images, and hanging out with people I rarely get to see, and going places I don’t often go. Which is all a way of saying life got in the way.

But, I made time, and progressed a bit on the learning curve of time-lapse video making. I’ve still got a ways to go (not sure why the video is so grainy – the photos that went into it were not…), but I’m going to take my time and enjoy the process.

I hope you enjoy the video. I’m pretty proud of my efforts. And you know what? This isn’t a bad substitute for color and sunshine what with November being itself ;)

(If you can’t see YouTube videos for any reason, I’ve also uploaded this one to my Facebook page along with more images, and I’ll be getting it up on Flickr sometime in the not-too-distant future.)

Simply Astonishing

The kind, watchful folks at NOAA issued a minor magnetic storm watch on September 30 – to take place from late last night and through the following 48 hours. Then they upgraded the storm from minor to moderate. And they also forecasted that the storm would actually arrive late today. But I’ve (at least a little) learned my lesson about cameras and readiness. I had an empty memory card and two batteries charged for the evening. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I had just crawled between the sheets, prepared to wind down for the night – you know, like normal people do at midnight ;) – with some Harry Potter. And then someone texted Tony. Frustration didn’t even occur to me. I knew exactly who would be texting that late. I read about 10 pages of Harry’s next adventure before donning outdoor attire and hitting the road.

We have seen taller aurora, and we have seen more active aurora (though it did change character much later in the night, doing the whole strobing thing that I swear should make noise, but doesn’t), but we have never seen more colorful aurora. I have hundreds more photos, but these are some of the prettiest, and they show a fun progression. Taken from 12:46am – 12:48am. I’m including both a slideshow (for speed-clickthrough fun) and large versions, which link to even bigger versions on flickr if you want to check them out in ginormous form ;)

Hope these make your day just a teensy bit brighter (And for those who ask – feel free to share the love.) :)

Click any image for the super-size version
Torch Lake Aurora

Torch Lake Aurora-2

Torch Lake Aurora-3

Torch Lake Aurora-4

Torch Lake Aurora-5

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Aurora [Northern Lights] Slideshow

The aurora was going crazy last night/this morning. These light shows are often much more fleeting than this one. We watched in fascination for hours last night. If we hadn’t been awake most of the previous night with storms, we probably would have seen the aurora fade into the dawn. Or the clouds.

Most of these were taken from my driveway, but the rest were taken from Torch Lake. They have barely been edited; you’ll notice they haven’t been cropped even. I wanted to give you the chance to click through quickly so that you get an idea of what it’s like if you’ve never seen it in person. Sorry for moving the camera to so many different places; I just kind of never know where exactly to aim, since the northern lights move, and each photo is a 30-second exposure. Regardless, enjoy!

If you’re interested and you missed it, there are a couple of larger versions on my previous blog.

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