Night skiing, snowshoeing, and photographing on Murphy Dome

Posted by lwpetersen | March 11, 2012 | outdoors

Last night Jason (blog | flickr) and I went out shooting on Murphy Dome. The hope was (like always) to photograph the incredible aurora we were supposed to have. Like most times as of late, it was a dud of a show. Luckily, in anticipation of the seeming statistical fact that the better prepared I am the duller of a show we get, we left early to take some twilight shots. I snapped on my skis, Jason his snowshoes, we shouldered packs full of tripods and cameras (and a shovel!), and started heading in the direction of the Chatanika River where there are some fairly large rock outcroppings along the way. We both took a lot of pictures. I think they turned out nice.

That-arctic-feel
Starting down the trail, there was still a good deal of light available. This was the only handheld shot I took; I’m pretty impressed at how still my hand was (I usually shake like a paint mixer).

A-tree-a-bush-a-rock-Venus-and-Jupiter
Once we found a nice area to unload the packs we both wandered around finding our own things to look at. This was my first time really wandering around up here in the winter. It is strikingly beautiful — and frosty. The two bright dots in the sky are Venus (right and bright) and Jupiter (left and not quite as bright). They will be a recurring theme in many of the following shots so keep an eye out for them!

A-frosty-world
I’m usually not that into HDR processing, but sometimes I can’t resist the temptation. So here’s my only HDR from the evening. Also, the pleiades is starting to appear.

musubk
Jason.

Stars-and-planets
A few hours later it was dark and the stars lit up the sky. Still no aurora, but plenty to take pictures of.

Beautiful-and-starry-night
Then it got a little darker. A light band of aurora was starting to appear on the horizon behind me.

Aurora-and-cold-toes
There it is!

Aurora-on-the-horizon
I spent ten minutes digging out a three foot deep pit in the snow, made a seat (with armrests) and sat down and just took a picture every time something interesting happened. Jason took a few time-lapses and stitched them together. In the first one you can see me in the corner digging my hole. I love digging in the snow and will find about any excuse to do it. This was about as bright as the aurora got, but still nice to watch from my throne. Not long after my toes were really cold and Jason’s fingers were numb. We decided to pack it in and head out. It was a good night.

Blog Comments

I like how you captured the snow drifts across the top of the mountain. The lines in the photos, defined by the snow drifts, draw the sensation of harsh wind that traveled over the area. Nice!

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