NORTHERN LIGHTS PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
Churchill Northern Studies Center, Canada
March 6 – 12, 2013Few places exist where the northern lights dance and shine as clearly as they do on the edge of the Arctic circle. This March 2013, photographers who make the journey north should be rewarded with incredible light shows since it is forecast to be the peak time for sun spot activity in this decade. More sun spots means more solar flares and, as it turns out, more auroral activity for us to photograph down here on earth!
This is one of the few workshops that I teach where timing is so critical. To get the best images during the peak of this 11 year solar cycle, we need clear, dark skies. Moonlight and urban light pollution diminish aurora visibility. Thus, our trip will take us to a dark, remote place during a week when there is almost no moonlight to diminish the brilliance of the night sky.Early March is a time when the sun sets slowly in the Arctic. Up at 59* 45′ north, the sun does not drop vertically below the horizon, instead making a long, graceful arc shallowly angling below the horizon each day. This long arc creates extended periods of twilight in the Arctic / subarctic ecosystem. With hours and hours of twilight and eventual darkness, we will have plenty of time to experiment with a variety of night photography techniques. In addition, our stay at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) in Manitoba, Canada places us directly under the Auroral Oval. The Auroral Oval is a statistical construct that measures the probability of observing an aurora if it occurs. If you live in Florida, the probability of witnessing an incredible northern lights display this spring is less than 0.005%, but up at the Northern Studies Centre that probability is nearly 100%.
In between the light shows, we may also be lucky enough to photograph some of the wildlife that tough out the long winter. Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, snowy owls, gyre falcons, and rock and willow ptarmigans are all residents in this part of the world. We will be able to enjoy the northern culture and spend some time visiting the Eskimo Museum, the Parks Canada Visitor Center, and learn how to build a traditional igloo. There will be daily lectures on photography, the science of auroras, sea ice, polar bears, polar regions, and the effects of climate change. Expect to come away from our expedition as an aficionado of all things Arctic!I have teamed up with my good friend, Dr. Jim Halfpenny, to put this unique photography workshop together. Jim is a true polar explorer as well as a scientist, author, and fantastic educator. He has worked in both polar regions and this fall he completed his 23rd year of teaching classes up at the CNSC. Jim is a former Director of the Mountain Research Station, he was a Research Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (University of Colorado), and is currently a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club and recipient of the Antarctic Service Medal from the U.S. Navy. You can check out Dr. Halfpenny’s work at www.tracknature.com and www.halfpenny.me.
The Churchill Northern Studies Centre where we will be staying is located about 20 miles east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba. The Centre is an active research station for scientific experiments and it provides dormitory living including bunk rooms and cafeteria-style food. The CNSC was originally a rocket pad where Nike rockets were launched into the atmosphere to study the aurora. The CNSC even has a heated dome and platforms specifically designed for night photography. Accommodations are spartan, but warm and comfortable. It is truly one of the best places in the world for this kind of photography workshop.
Although Churchill is know for its polar bears, their presence is a fall phenomena. Polar bears congregate in Churchill in late fall while they are waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they may go out onto the pack ice and hunt for seals all winter. In March, the bears are out on the frozen Hudson Bay and we will not see them. Again, timing is critical for this workshop. When the Hudson Bay is open, it is a source of warm, moist air that can produce dense fog. In March, however, when the Bay is frozen, there are no moist fog banks and a much higher probability for clear, crisp skies. Of course, we cannot make guarantees about the weather and storms can roll in at any time, but all the signs point to March 2013 as the best time to be out shooting on the edge of the Arctic!
Cost: $3400 (US) includes roundtrip airfare from Winnipeg to Churchill
Minimum of 7 participants and a maximum group size of 12
For additional information or to reserve your space, visit www.tracknature.com.
Filed Under: Lightroom Classes and Photography Workshops