Picture perfect nights

Picture perfect nights
January 15, 2017 April McKee
April McKee photo of Northern Lights

Those who haven’t witnessed Northern Lights dancing above don’t know what they are missing. April McKee photo

Motivations for relocating to Alaska moving are to as diverse as the people, born elsewhere, who’ve found their way here.

Some are here because the military ordered them to assume duty here, or they’re accompanying spouses pursuuing military career, my own story. Some came North to study at one of University of Alaska’s  campuses. Others are here for job opportunities. Some are drawn by the chance for a fresh start at life.

One thing that seems universal among newcomers is the discovery of picture-perfect views wherever one turns, a backdrop that makes this “final frontier” worth visiting.

Of the many aesthetic wonders of the nation’s largest state, the northern lights are probably the most commonly known and photographed natural phenomenon. The visionary appeal of auroras, rarely seen outside the far north or distant southern hemispheres of the world belong on anyone’s bucket.

Yemarie Gonzalez, who is living on Fort Wainwright while her husband fulfills his military duty, had only heard about the dancing lights before moving here. She didn’t understand what awaited until she first saw them. “Now that I know, I can only say, ‘Thank you lord for giving me this opportunity to see this beauty that you had created for us.’ ”

Not everyone finds their initial experience beautiful. “When I was a kid, I was scared,” recalled Kelli Boyle, a lifelong resident of the Fairbanks area. “My mom told me they were dancing clouds so I wouldn’t be afraid anymore.”

My initial encounter came the winter of 2014, after relocating to Alaska where my husband is fulfilling his military duty. I had heard of the Northern Lights. Being an inspiring photographer, the phenomena had been on my list of things to shoot for as long as I can remember.

The many photographs and videos that I had seen prior did not do the experience even the slightest justice. Watching those lights moving through the sky, changing colors, dancing and swirling against the darkness,  I stood in awe, mesmerized by the beauty moving above.

I was fortunate enough to capture that introduction with my camera and will cherish those images for a lifetime.

If you have not stayed up late at night and ventured outside, braving frigid arctic temperatures, to experience those dancing lights in the sky,  I suggest you do so as soon as possible. Cherish the beauty only a small fraction of the world’s population will ever know.

April McKee
I'm a mom of 7, wife to a soldier for over ten years, now attending college with hopes of one day devoting myself to photographing and writing about cultures around the world. I homeschool my kids. Photography has been a hobby and passion most of my life. I travel as often as I can, usually with kids and camera in tow.

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