Old Mine shaft buidling with Northern Lights at night

And now, for something different…

When I was 12 years old, I read “The Golden Compass” and was captivated by the idea of the Northern Lights. I’ve dreamed of seeing them ever since.

That dream came true in February, thanks to Dave Brosha and Paul Zizka‘s fantastic Nights of Wonder workshop in Yellowknife. Thanks also to Elena Bazini, whose company gave me the guts to brave the -40° temperatures, and to the adventurous and supportive group of photographers.

This post is different from the usual in many ways. There are some images that I’m proud to include on their own merit, but I’ve also included a few that would never normally make the cut – a few awkward power lines, etc. However, in my mind the Northern Lights are so spectacular as to make that stuff somewhat beside the point; I want to share with you how beautiful these nights were.

This workshop was, in the best way, humbling. Landscape is about the furthest genre I can think of from wedding photography, and it takes a completely different approach (although, as you can see, I couldn’t resist bringing people into the landscapes). I certainly had to fight my years of wedding instincts. Not only that, but things that seem simple in the warmth of a hotel ballroom suddenly become a big challenge in the dark, at -40°. I’m coming away from this workshop with such respect for how hard landscape photographers have to work for that one perfect image!

I’m so grateful for this experience – it was truly a dream made real. The far north may not have Phillip Pullman’s witches or talking polar bears (that I know of), but the Northern Lights are real and every bit as wonderful as I hoped for.

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