Warner Images Blog
Ross Sea, Antarctica
From Jan 15 - Feb 6, 2017 we explored the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Compared to last year's expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ross Sea region is quite different. It took a week to sail across the Southern Ocean from Hobart, Australia, we then spent a week in the Ross Sea and spent the last week returning once again across the Southern Ocean to Lyttelton, New Zealand. The landscape was much more vast and remote, and it took us over a day to sail along the Ross Ice Shelf. A highlight of the trip was setting a new world record for sailing the furthest south a ship has ever sailed, which we accomplished in the Bay of Whales. On the way back north we were treated to a spectacular aurora australis display once we reached the 50º south latitudes. Click on any of the images below to go to the Ross Sea Image Gallery.
Ross Sea, Antarctica, 2017
During the first week of December 2016, I explored and photographed the Colorado Plateau. I spent the preceding weeks researching the park features and layouts, photo opportunities and predicted sun and moon positions, and since I like to understand what I am looking at, read three books on the Plateau's geology. This was my first visit to this area, and it did not disappoint. It was an absolutely incredible experience and definitely counted as one of my bucket list items. I visited Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase, Capitol Reef, Zion, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, and Arches. The weather included a few snow showers and occasional clouds, but mostly it was clear and cold (min temp was 6ºF) making for crisp blue skies and starry nights. The moon was a waxing crescent providing some moonlighting for night photography while not washing out the stars. There were very few people in the parks or on the roads, so often I felt like I was the only person around. The silence was music to my ears. Here is the gallery of my Colorado Plateau images.
Antarctica Expedition, 12/21/2015 - 1/21/2016
My family and I got the incredible opportunity to go on a month long expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands. We were in a constant state of awe as each day brought a new scene of breathtaking beauty. I have created a separate gallery of images taken during our adventure, which you can get to by clicking on any of the images below. I also created a 25 min long video of our adventure, which is embedded from Vimeo below.
Antarctica Peninsula and South Georgia Island
Aurora Close Encounter, 6/22/2015
On the night of 6/22/2015, I experienced something amazing in northeast Wyoming. I drove up to Devils Tower earlier in the evening in anticipation of possible aurora activity from a combination of three Coronal Mass Ejection impacts in the previous 24 hours. Capturing aurora over Devils Tower was a goal of mine for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, clouds and showers were forecast to develop in the area after dark so I knew there was a chance I would not see anything. Also, the latest impact occurred hours earlier so there was no guarantee that the aurora indices would remain favorable.
I setup a time-lapse from my favorite location on the west side of Devils Tower looking east. There are two old trees that make a nice frame for the tower. As darkness set in, clouds began to develop over the area. It was clear to the south so I left the time-lapse running and drove to Warren Peak further south in the Bear Lodge Mountains. This location gives an incredible elevated 360º view whereas Devils Tower sits down in a shallow valley. When I arrived at Warren Peak it was dark enough to see diffuse green aurora to the north and northeast with some distinct green rays. Clouds partially blocked the view to the northwest. I setup another time-lapse looking northeast and started taking various pictures using a third camera. The waxing crescent moon was in and out of clouds to the west with Venus and Saturn leading the way to the western horizon.
After about 30 minutes, I tried to capture a panorama. It took about a minute or so to complete the sequence, and when I looked up from the camera I saw some spectacular magenta rays develop directly north of me. They extended overhead and were simply dazzling. I quickly tried to capture them with my 17 mm lens but had to orient the camera to portrait to get them all in. They continued to grow vertically, and it seemed like the entire sky was filling up with aurora. I quickly switched to an all sky 8 mm lens. I was able to capture a short sequence of images for about 5 minutes before the intensity of the sudden enhanced activity began to fade. In addition, the clouds that were to my northwest rapidly spread over me, cutting me off from seeing the continued activity.
The sudden and extremely intense burst of activity left me awestruck. Unable to see through the clouds in any direction, I drove back to Devils Tower and waited for another hour to see if any breaks in the clouds would develop. No luck. Showers were expanding to my north and moving south toward me. I grabbed my time-lapse camera on the west side of the tower and headed back toward Rapid City periodically checking for any breaks in the skies. Although no breaks developed, I was treated to some weak lightning activity along the way.
The time-lapse sequence that I had captured from the west side of Devils Tower had captured the burst of aurora activity through the partly cloud covered skies before the clouds filled in. It turned out to be a spectacular image sequence.
After 10 years of trying, I was rewarded with a beautiful aurora event over Devils Tower. A true close encounter with something not of this world.