We no longer actively produce this photo. However, you can still special order this print by just typing in the photo title on our Custom Order Form.
It was just past midnight on the morning of March 10, 1998, and I was camped at milepost 135 on the Parks Highway. I was on a serious Auroral hunt and this was the 30th night this winter that I had spent with Denali in my sights.
My inverted schedule began like all the rest - I turned the heater back on in my truck camper when I awoke at 7:30pm, did a few stretches to get rid of the camper kinks, cooked up breakfast around 8pm, then took a nice brisk walk. I was in a good space as I focused both my tripod/ camera setups on Denali Mountain, then settled into the front seat of my nice warm truck. The conditions were optimal; crystal clear skies, only 10 degrees below zero, and a near full moon lighting up the snowscape. So far I'd spent most of the nights just stargazing, and for the previous 3 nights the sky has been completely devoid of any Auroral activity. I had decided that maybe I was wanting this shot too much, so I just let it go... "If it happens, it happens" I thought to myself. That night it happened.
I have developed a sleep-with-one-eye-open technique for Aurora hunting. After sitting in the front of my truck for a couple of hours, that's exactly where I was - Snoozin'! All of a sudden my one alert eye screamed at my other eye to"Wake Up" and when I did I gasped!!! Huge, tall curtains of green and pink light dancing right over Denali!! I flew out of my truck and in one gigantic bound I was at my cameras. I just started clicking different exposures; 2 seconds, 4 seconds, 8 seconds, bracket Todd, bracket! This is supposed to be a relaxing thing, but talk about an adrenaline rush. The curtains were climbing right out of the Alaska Range and performing a mix of tap dance and ballet - it was absolutely extraordinary!! Within 10 minutes the peak moment was over and gracefully the Aurora bowed and faded into the northern sky. I stood there whispering "don't leave....come back..." Oh, so bittersweet.
And so it was, the highest mountain on this continent and what I believe to be nature's most magical phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis, getting together for one brief interlude, an exquisite high energy dance - the "Denali Dance."
Denali Viewpoint South, Alaska
Nikon FM with Nikkor 35mm/f1.4
4 seconds, ƒ/1.4, ISO 200