Northern Lights in Southern Skies

Fairly insanely jealous of those who saw the aurora borealis down here in the southeastern U.S. last night. Don't suppose the Aurora Forecaster predicted it.

Click through to some pics: Here's a collection of photos from last night, and here's one said to be from just a couple of counties away from us in Georgia.

Here's NOAA's map from about noon eastern today, Tuesday, 25 October, 2011:


Ironically, just yesterday we booked travel to see the aurora in December. Instead of walking outside the studio here, we'll just have to travel 4568.44 miles to see it.

Fine Eclipse Photography Sites

Eclipse There is no experience on earth like a total eclipse. Absolutely none. I'm nowhere near eloquent enough to describe why, but just see one – once – and you'll understand. Promise. You'll want to go and see every other one from then on, ever. In Afar magazine's current issue you can read about people who do just that.

Afar first published several issues ago, aspiring to be a different kind of travel magazine. As charter subscribers, we've read them all. They're aiming upmarket, trying to feature destinations off the beaten track while attracting ads from national tourism organizations, long-haul airlines and designer handbag manufacturers.  They're pulling it off as well as anybody since the lamented Escape magazine.

So far their web site is underdeveloped and disappointing. Up to now they're unwilling to share their magazine content online, but put that down to their being new. Maybe. I point that out because I can't refer you to an article in the current issue by Jeff Greenwald, who wrote an entertaining book, The Size of the World back in 1997, about a trip around the world without leaving the ground. 

Greenwald accompanied an expedition to view the 22 July, 2009 total solar eclipse aboard a chartered ship in the Pacific, and his article has revealed a couple of fine eclipse photography sites, which is the real point of this post. Enjoy Fred Bruenjes's Moonglow and icstars, from expedition leader Jen Winter. Phil Plante wrote about the trip, too.

(Photo of our first total eclipse, on Lake Balaton, Hungary, 11 August 1999, from There are more eclipse resources here.)

Would You Sleep in a Truck with 18 Others to Get Photos of Polar Bears?

Okay, not exactly a truck truck. A tundra buggy.

The other day we were on about how spending days in close quarters with the same people – like on a cruise – can get to be just the least bit stifling. Now here are some truly close quarters: Much as I would dearly love the chance to photograph polar bears on Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, I'm not so sure about spending several days with 37 others in the Tundra Buggy Lodge

From the web site: "The lodge consists of five large, modular units on huge tires, linked
together like a train with a large-scale interior. The five units
consist of two sleeping modules (complete with shared bathrooms and
shower facilities), a lounge, kitchen and dining unit and a module which
houses supplies and the camp's power station."

Maybe. I'm just not sure.

Here's a couple of screen grabs from a video on YouTube, which you can watch here.

Grab1    Grab2

Specialty Travel Planning Forecasts & Lists

Climb an active volcano? Chase a cyclone? Photograph the northern lights? All you need to pick your destination is right here.

Night Sky Photography

The Alaska Climate Research Center (webcam here – expect dark) of the Geophysics Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a handy resource for this time of year, an aurora forecast customizable for where you live (or plan to visit).

(Photo at right from the aurora forecaster).

While we're in the sky, try Space Weather, Earth & Sky Tonight and a page of several sets of data, like eclipses and transits of Venus and Mercury, from the U.S. Navy.

Specialty Lists Back on Earth

Not a forecast, exactly, but the U.S.G.S. keeps an extensive list of the latest earthquakes in the world. The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii keeps track of tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons at Tropical Storms Worldwide. The University of Wisconsin – Madison keeps track of the world's most active volcanoes on Volcano Watch, updated every half hour, with photos.

Still deciding on a destination? World Climate will give you basic information by city name. Weatherbase claims weather records and averages from 16,439 cities worldwide. And before you take off, check the Global Incident Map, which tracks global acts of terrorism and other suspicious events.

Finally, for gorgeous satellite photography from all over the planet, see NOAA's Ocean Explorer Galleries, and it's hard to beat NASA's Earth Observatory and its photography archives.

Kim Jong: Ill?

Photo from Koryo Tours

Just this past weekend we were mulling the photo opportunities, like the picture above from Koryo Tours’ website, afforded by a these tours, available to Americans, put on by Beijing based Koryo Tours.

This morning there are a ton of stories about the health of the Dear Leader. See Reuters, the IHT, and the Sydney Morning Herald. The PRC’s National Day cited in the stories, at which Kim didn’t appear, is the centerpiece of one of the tours put on by Koryo.

Report on Gorilla Trek Photography


We went on two mountain gorilla treks in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans, on 18 & 19 August, 2008. The first day we visited the 12-strong Hirwu (“Good Luck”) group, the second the 18 member Amahoro (“Peace”) group. Here’s a little about how the treks work, and some things we learned about taking gorilla pictures.

Both days started the same way, as all the trekkers mustered at the park headquarters in the 7:00 hour. There were pots of coffee and tea, and it was one of those mildly awkward moments, when a few dozen strangers speaking different languages attempt to mingle, with nothing really to say.

Out front on the grass, a display measured off seven meters, with a pair of boots on one end and a painting of a gorilla on the other, graphically illustrating that we were to go no closer to the gorillas than that. The reality, both days, wasn’t so simple.

Continue reading

Photography in Northern Latitudes



Vivid northern light presents opportunities for the photographer that you just don’t find around the farm in Georgia, USA. We’re looking forward to photo ops in Finland, where we’ll be all next week. These photos, clockwise from top left, were taken at our cabin in Finland, in a general store in Siberia, in the harbor at Bergen, Norway  and on a midsummer midnight cruise in Greenland.

Click the links to their country galleries at