Brooks Range Spring Aurora Workshop with Carl Johnson | April 3-8, 2024
Journey into the heart of the Alaska’s Arctic mountain range, the Brooks Range, and the aurora oval. This Brooks Range Spring Aurora workshop will focus on composition and technique for landscape photography. Be prepared for late nights as we explore the night sky and the wonders of the aurora, but be ready to be out at early and late light to capture the impressive mountain landscape of the Brooks Range. At this time of year, we could have a mixture of brilliant aurora borealis and a stunning snow-covered mountain landscapes. Join us for an adventure in the Alaskan Arctic with our Brooks Range Spring Aurora workshop!
This Brooks Range Spring Aurora Workshop is dedicated to those who want to have the best chances to see and photograph the northern lights. You should arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska, by the afternoon of April 3. Plan to take a courtesy shuttle to the lodging we have secured for you in Fairbanks. We will meet for dinner at 6:00 p.m., followed by a presentation about the science of the aurora borealis and an overview of how to photograph the aurora. Conditions permitting, we will head out for our first session on aurora borealis photography. The moon will be at 32% illumination.
We will want to get an early start on the day to enjoy some good light on our drive up the Dalton Highway to Wiseman, which is approximately six hours to the north of Fairbanks. Meet me in the hotel lobby at 7:00 a.m. so we can have breakfast, load up, and head north. We will make stops along the way to capture some classic scenery and get a start on discussing our gear and technique. Lunch will be taken at the Yukon River Camp. Sunrise is at 6:57 a.m.
We will check into the Boreal Lodging in the afternoon and settle in to our rooms. We will then have an early dinner so we can head out to capture a couple of hours of evening light before sunset at 9:13 p.m. If the skies are clear, we will set up for a “Twilight Snack” and wait for darkness and the aurora. The moon will be at 20% illumination.
Day Three through Five
Each day, we will transit to various locations in the Dalton Highway corridor north and south of Wiseman, depending on the weather. Sunrise is around 8:00 a.m. and sunset is around 9:20 p.m. Between night and morning twilight, we will have about 6 hours of nighttime shooting to work on aurora and other night sky techniques. Most instruction will be in the field. We will be experiencing a waning crescent moon during the trip, but it will be down all night each night.
During daytime breaks, we will conduct an early photo review session to go over composition, exposure and focus. This review should be conducted on our first full day in Wiseman to catch anything that needs to be improved. We will have an additional classroom session later to highlight photo processing essentials in Lightroom or other possible subjects.
We will also be talking a guided, narrated historical walk of Wiseman with longtime local resident Jack Reakoff. Jack will show us around and describe the history of the town, tell stories about cabins and past residents, and then take us back to his home to talk about what it is like to live a subsistence lifestyle off the grid in the Alaskan Arctic.
Most of our field photography will occur between evening light and after sunrise. Depending on conditions, success, and the interest of the group, we may be out in the field all night for some nights, and other nights get some sleep. On some evenings, we may even take dinner out in the field to save the time necessary to return to the lodge for meals. However, plan to get most of your sleep during the day between breakfast and dinner. This sort of schedule is necessary to take advantage of the mountain landscapes and the aurora. And staying out all night is the very sort of schedule that aurora chasers have to endure!
We will depart the Boreal Lodge in Wiseman no later than 10:00 a.m. for our return drive to Fairbanks. We will take lunch again at the Yukon River crossing. We should arrive back in Fairbanks by approximately 5:00 p.m.
Whenever possible we endeavor to follow our itineraries as written. However, trips will occasionally deviate from the written itinerary due to weather conditions, group preference, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances (collectively what some have called “The Alaska Factor.”) Therefore, we suggest that you approach any Alaska trip with an open mind and an adventurous spirit.
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- Transportation between Fairbanks and Wiseman, Alaska
- Lodging in Fairbanks the first and last nights and in Wiseman
- All meals and snacks from first night to last morning
- Wine and beer in the evenings in Wiseman
- Guiding and instruction
- Aurora Bear presentation and intro evening
- Guided nighttime dog mushing and aurora tour
Recommended Photography Gear
- Camera with manual settings
- Wide angle lens, with ranges recommended between 14-70mm
- Zoom lens, recommended 70-200mm
- Charged batteries and charger
- Multiple memory cards
- Sturdy Tripod
- Remote shutter release
This winter aurora borealis workshop involves moderate activity that involves walking short distances on uneven terrain. Weather conditions may range from range from clear and sunny to cloudy and snowy. Temperatures can range from daily highs of 20F (-7C) to lows of -20F (-29C).
Clothing and Personal Gear
- Comfortable walking or hiking shoes with good traction and insulation
- Thermal long sleeve layers
- Warm, thick sweater
- Fleece jacket
- Warm hat and gloves
- Head lamp with red light mode
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