2017 Great American Eclipse
The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse was truly one of the most spectacular events I have ever witnessed. There is no way to adequately describe the view of the sun during totality, it is something that must be personally witnessed. My advice, if you have ever have a chance to see a total solar eclipse, don't miss it.

My goal for the eclipse was to keep my photography as simple as possible, primarily because I wanted to witness the event, not miss it due to to being totally engrossed with operating my camera the entire time. So rather than fiddle with long zoom lenses and solar filters, I stuck with simply exposure bracketing a wide angle lens shot that captured the sun during totality with as a good of environmental composition as possible. I scouted locations long in advance, and initially picked one high in the Oregon Cascades where I could photograph the sun in totality above Mount Jefferson. Unfortunately, more than a month before the event the area was closed due to wildfires. After considering other options I finally decided on Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge, just a short distance north of Dallas, Oregon. After scouting the area ahead of time, I choose the composition that you see in the first two pictures below. For me at least, the sun in totality above the massive oak tree and the eclipse induced false dawn on the far eastern horizon really captured the essence of this spectacular event.

I do need to give credit to Dan Stockwell, my co-worker and photographer friend, for giving me the pre and post sun shots that you see in the second two pictures. Although the base photos are mine, I merged in his individual sun shots to create composite images showing the progression of the sun before and after the eclipse. Check out Dan's excellent web page at danielstockwell.com.

Final image after merging a set of six exposure bracketed images. 


Same image as previous, but with Dan's individual sun shots merged into to show the progression of the sun prior to and after totality.


Zoomed in version of the previous image. Thanks again to Dan for providing me with the pre and post eclipse sun photos.

Northern Lights
I'll tell the tale of a Northern trail, and so help me God, it's true.
I'll tell of the howling wilderness and the haggard Arctic heights.
Of  a reckless vow that I made, and how I staked the Northern Lights.
Robert W. Service 
"The Ballad of the Northern Lights"
All of these Northern Lights pictures were taken during a trip to Fairbanks Alaska in late January of 2016. It was a fantastic trip with exceptional conditions for viewing Aurora activity. The pictures were taken over four consecutive nights, the first being near Cleary Summit on the Steese Highway north of a Fairbanks, the last three at several locations near the Chena Hot Springs Resort. 
Cleary Highway
The first nights Aurora viewing was pretty much unexpected. After enjoying a late evening dinner at a remote diner north of Fairbanks we stopped at Cleary Summit to take a few star pictures. Much to our surprise a short time later the Auroras appeared, initially being so subtle we mistook them for clouds.
The Auroras at Cleary Summit slowly increased in intensity, like this shot that shows multiple bands of different colors

This and the shot below were taken a short distance from Cleary Summit, with the leafless Birch trees providing a great foreground

Charlie Dome, near Chena Hot Springs
For our first night at Chena Hot Springs we took an Aurora viewing excursion via snow-cat to a nearby hilltop location known as Charlie Dome. This was our best Aurora viewing night, starting around 8PM and still go strong when we finally turned in around 2AM. Auroras on this evening primarily resembled slow moving curtains, often extending entirely across the northern horizon. I took pictures for nearly 90 minutes before finally warming up inside Charlie Dome's heated Yurt, only quitting because my camera and fingers were suffering the effects of that evenings  -18F conditions. 
The view that presented itself to us upon first stepping out of the snow-cat at Charlie Dome

A nice double-curtain Aurora

Long slow-moving Aurora curtains were the norm for this evening. The shot below was taken just a few minutes after the shot above.

Aurora curtains with red and even a little blue fringes

At other times the Aurora curtains seemed to come from the north, winding there way directly toward us


Chena Hot Springs Highway
For the last two nights we ventured a few miles west of the resort to a scenic  (and dark) location along side the Chena Hot Springs highway. The Aurora activity on both nights only lasted a few hours, starting off slowly but soon intensifying and becoming very active, often exhibiting swirling and almost tornado-like movements. 
Aurora curtain over the Chena Hot Springs Highway

Very active Aurora, with an almost tornado vortex like swirling action

Aurora resembling fingers appearing to reach down and touch the ridge line

Examples of rapidly changing Aurora activity, this shot taken at 11:45PM

Taken at 12:01AM

Taken at 12:09AM

Taken at 12:12AM

As the Aurora's begin to fade I captured this last shot that showed some orange and almost yellow colors, something we did not see until this last night

A little more than an hour of Aurora activity captured in a 50 second time-lapse

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