Northern Lights – Dancing Skies in Arctic Manitoba

The knock at the door and words “Northern Lights” seemed part of a dream, but slowly, too slowly, the shroud of deep slumber slipped away. As my catatonic state gradually lifted, I suddenly woke with a start, the full realisation of those two words finally sinking in. Jumping out of bed, hurriedly throwing on some warm clothes, I grabbed the camera and rushed outside in flip-flops.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-54_northern_lights

Dancing lights in the Arctic

A long, green, luminescent arc dominated the night sky, immediately taking my breath away, this dream was coming true. I’d spent most of my adult life chasing the Northern Lights around the world, Canada, Iceland, Norway, and even northern Scotland, but until this moment the search had been fruitless. Right here, right now on the first night in Manitoba, Canada my sky was finally alive with this mysterious phenomenon.

inky blackness of the Arctic night”

I was initially speechless, until after a few moments the single word “amazing” escaped my lips. The green arc was already beginning to fade, so although the camera was already set-up on the tripod, with suitable settings for capturing the aurora dialed in the results were less than spectacular.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Arctic Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-77_the_aurora

The Plough or Big Dipper

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Arctic Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-46_aurora_borealis

The lights in the sky

There wasn’t long to wait before another chance presented itself. Within moments a faint green glow, far to the east began to creep towards the lodge. Soon the sky  filled with dancing lights, twinkling in the inky blackness of the Arctic night. Coating the surrounding buildings in a soft glow, and giving the night an eerie atmosphere.

Large clouds drifted slowly overhead, diffusing and reflecting the lights, providing different, but equally impressive skyscapes. As they cleared away some of the major star constellations were visible, the Big Dipper and Orion standing out against waves of green, washing up against the blackness of the night.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Arctic Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-43_the_aurora

Luminescent night

There were several more appearances in the next hour, each did not last long and capturing the scene required some quick work and experimentation. This was my first Northern Lights experience, so it was also my first attempt to photograph them. I needed to learn fast, and it was a steep learning curve, playing with the ISO, shutter speed and angles to capture a few pictures that would do them justice.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-56_aurora

Lightshow of the gods

“”dancing lights of the Arctic”

After awhile the show abated and we all retired to our beds, which my cold flip-flop clad feet appreciated, even if the rest of me was slightly less enthusiastic.

There was a second knock later on and another chance to witness the dancing lights of the Arctic. This time I reacted more quickly and was outside snapping away within moments; though still in flip-flops.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Arctic Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-51_northern_lights

A gateway to heavenly skies

The great thing about using longer exposures is that it also offers an opportunity to stand back and enjoy the show. This I gratefully did, standing in stunned silence, watching the light show of the gods for another thirty minutes.

There have probably been more spectacular displays of the Aurora Borealis, but it was still impressive, especially when the lights spread quickly across the sky. Seeing a far distant glow, rapidly sneak across the jet-black sky, lighting it up is impossible to forget.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-55_aurora_borealis

Colourful Arctic sky

I feel blessed to have finally seen the Northern Lights. It was the first night in Manitoba, and the show wasn’t really repeated, but I’m just grateful the gods finally shared their spectacular firework display.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on Hudson Bay, Manitoba in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-41_northern_lights

Waves of green in the Arctic

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      Iain

      I’m hoping I’ll have a little better idea next time Lynn and the results will be improved. I hope you get an Aurora experience of your own soon.

  1. Jackie Roberts

    Thanks, Mallory, for sharing this. It is awe-inspiring and seems very spiritual. I was in Alaska in October of 2012, 60+ miles north of the Arctic Circle, when I saw an incredible light show the night before I left — startling. I finally put down my camera and just gawked! Consider interior and arctic Alaska from September to March as another destination for great aurora borealis sightings.

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      Iain

      Welcome Jackie, I hope to see them in Alaska one day soon, I’ll never tire of seeing the Aurora. Maybe I should have put the camera down, and taken a little time to think about my settings 🙂

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      Iain

      Thank you Samantha, it was a stunning display, my pictures don’t quite do it justice, but hopefully next time I’ll be better prepared.

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      Iain

      Having seen them once, it won’t stop me continuing to chase them Jennifer. Their spectacular show only fueled my appetite for more, I hope to see much more of them in future.

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