Aurora Borealis

I don’t think these Northern Lights will ever get old. I’ll always enjoy watching them, but I know as the temperatures drop here in Interior Alaska, the desire to sit outside for an hour shooting them will fade. Last week was the perfect climate for catching the Lights show.

Snow from a week ago had mostly melted off, leaving our grass once again exposed. Warmer nights (only dropping to the low 30s) meant down parkas and snow pants stayed in the closet, while we reached instead for vests, light hats, and fleece jackets and gloves. Any colder out, and my fingers would have turned to numb useless nubs, my camera battery would have drained, and my damp hair would have frozen. I don’t know how more disciplined aurora chasers tolerate the freezing temperatures closer to the winter solstice.

So here I present to you the Northern Lights, from October 6, 2015. Hopefully more to come, since this is our last season in Alaska, for now.

And in case you missed it, Isaac and I changed our residency to Alaska. We are coming back to settle down here after his military service ends (not for a few more duty stations, unfortunately). Sorry California and Oklahoma family, but something about this wild, Libertarian place has really appealed to our frontier sensibilities. It must be a mix of the bold folks who live here, the pristine tundra, and the bountiful wildlife and the lack of fashion rules that have really got us dreading the adjustment back to the lower 48 next year.

I’ll miss this one day.


Yukon Quest

I can tell you definitively that if I were to embark on the Yukon Quest, it wouldn’t take long for me to want to turn around and race back towards the cozy home and happy family I would have left behind. Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AK

Brian Wilmshurst - Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AKFirst of all, I’d probably want to Instagram or Tweet everything I see on my 1,000 mile journey through the wilderness, and a lack of reception would probably not allow that. Second, winter camping is not my forte. I just don’t have the greatest tolerance for long exposures to bitterly cold temperatures. I am definitely a summer camper.

Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AK

What a challenge: 1,000 miles through the Alaskan Wilderness from Fairbanks, AK to Whitehorse, YT. We drove that stretch on our way out here, and I thought it was a long ride by car. I can hardly imagine taking that journey by dog sled. Especially a dog sled team led by my elderly, overweight Beagle, Yango. I probably would elect to have a different lead dog, or we’d likely get nowhere. There are a great many reasons why I’m not cut out for the Yukon Quest — and a great many reasons why I highly respect the competitors. 

Allen Moore - Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AK Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AK

Each night I can easily track the progress of the racers from the comfort of my cozy living room, glad that I can enjoy the sport from afar. I’m rooting for Curt Perano, because I spoke briefly with his wife Fleur by chance when her toddler Wyatt wandered over to Margot in her stroller at the Co-Op Plaza. The New Zealand natives have been mushing for a very long time, with Curt Perano competing in the Iditarod last year and taking 27th place. What a fun legacy for baby Wyatt to inherit.

I also spotted former Iditarod champ Lance Mackey behind the starting gate. Alaskan Celebrities are much different than the Southern Californian celebrities I’m used to spotting (David Hasselhof, Tobey Maguire). But it’s still exciting to see a famous face!

Lance Mackey - Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AK Normand Casavant - Yukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AKYukon Quest 2014 - Fairbanks, AKThis journey is likely to last 8 days or so for the mushers; an exciting week for the mushers, and an uneventful (but cozy!) week here at home, I can confidently predict.

After the Winter Solstice

The holidays and the winter solstice are behind us now, which means we’re gaining approximately seven minutes of precious daylight every day. Our Anniversary, Christmas, and the New Year were nice distractions from the cold, dark winter, but in our normal routine, our happy light has become our surrogate sun and we are often lost in nostalgia for warm summer days, or brisk hikes in the mountains.

When the happy light clicks off, it’s back to reality.

Fairbanks SkylineI’ve never been stuck indoors for such an extended period of time. Winter sports with an infant in tote hasn’t been an option for us, so while Margot works on walking with the support of the furniture, we’ve spent a lot of time working on other projects.

Pioneer Church at Pioneer Park - Fairbanks, AK

Fairbanks, AK Isaac, my wonderful law school drop-out, has been working diligently on the legalities of starting a small photography business — a dream of mine for quite some time now. With all this time indoors, he was able to write my contracts, model releases, expense forms, print waivers and price lists. Then, when were finally ready to make the investment in better camera equipment, we did.

Yea Yea Photography Logo


Now, here we are, launching my own photography business, Yea Yea Photography! I completed my first lifestyle photo session at the end of December when a friend had her baby. I can’t wait to see the prints when they arrive from the lab in few days. I’m proud of this new venture, and excited to see where it takes us this summer when additional daylight translates into photo ops.

Pioneer Park - Fairbanks, AKMargot 9 months - Fairbanks, AK

As the remaining winter days tick by (I think we’re only halfway through), I’ll be working on marketing for my studio, developing a few more recipes, and hopefully touring one or two places outside of Fairbanks to celebrate all of our upcoming birthdays. I’ll be sure to share all of that, and at least one session with my own blue-eyed baby (who is nearly ten months old) soon.

And many thanks to all the wonderful family and friends who frequent this blog and follow along while I practice my photography technique and share my life! Your encouraging comments always make my day.