Heaven and Earth

The film recorded the wonderfully deep purples, lavenders, and blues aurora borealis which fill in the entire sky.

The “Heaven and Earth” Experience

Every September I like to start off the aurora season with a bang and travel somewhere remote. This fall I pulled out the road atlas and spotted a dot that I had never been to before - Eagle, Alaska.

Veering north off of the Alcan, I took the Top-of-the-World Highway to the Taylor Highway. A hundred plus miles of gravel later I stopped where the road stopped, right on the edge of the mighty Yukon River. I stepped out, took a deep breath of cool autumn air and instantly felt refreshed. The small town of Eagle and surrounding landscape has some very positive energy. I started exploring every avenue and eventually came to the old 1901 church. I was captivated. The small one-story building glowed with turn-of-the-century history as it sat on the bank overlooking the swift and mesmerizing river. A big 'ol birch tree, probably as old as the church, had grown healthy and tall next to it and had a children's swing hanging from a branch. I knew right then and there that, come nightfall, I would search here for that spiritual experience.

Around 10pm the first green arc appeared on the northern horizon. Before long, tall colorful rays decorated the sky like a huge pane of stained glass. I began photographing the aurora from all angles while illuminating the church with every creative lighting technique I could think of. This photo turned out to my liking, and to be honest, is better than I had expected. Why? Because, after clicking the shutter open on my tripod mounted camera, I ran to the back side of the church and poofed the little steeple and church bell (look closely) with a hand-held flash unit. By the time I made it back to click off the camera it had become over a 30 second exposure, which is very long to me...but the film actually recorded some precious light that the retina in my eyes could not detect. I saw distinct and separate green auroral curtains with faint pink upper borders - the film saw and recorded the wonderfully deep purples, lavenders, and blues which fill in the entire sky. That light is there, we just can't see it all! This is where the title comes to me, "Heaven & Earth." Here on earth we have trees, churches, and rivers. Up there in the sky is heavenly beauty, some we can see, and some we cannot, but deep down inside we know it's there.

Todd Salat


Photo Info

Eagle, Alaska
Nikon FM with Nikkor 28mm/f1.4
20 seconds w/flash, ƒ/1.4, ISO 200

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