Witness the living skies of Alaska!

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders. If you've ever seen it first-hand, or ask anyone who has, this is almost certainly an understatement. It's no wonder these spectacular lights have inspired humans' writings (and cave paintings) throughout religion and lore over thousands of years. Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the best cities in the world to see the northern lights. Every clear night, it is possible to see aurora here, giving the area the nickname the "land of living skies."

March is one of the best months to see the aurora because of a scientific phenomenon called the "Russell-McPherron" effect which causes auroras to be stronger during the equinox months of September and March. Also, March is one of the clearest months in Alaska with very little cloud cover – it's possible to have clear skies every night in March!

Throughout this workshop, we will spend our nights chasing the aurora and clear skies (within a relatively close range of Fairbanks) and offer additional opportunities to explore the area by day. Through all of it, you will learn various night and low-light photography methods including: multiple exposure blending, multiple exposures for stacked processing, low level lighting, timelapse shooting and processing, and various other night sky photography techniques plus small group post-processing instruction.

Join Vincent Ledvina, a professional aurora chaser and Ph.D. student studying the aurora, and Marc Rassel, a professional landscape photographer and accredited Adobe instructor on a 7-day journey under the aurora.

Highlights of the workshop

  • While nothing is guaranteed in nature, we will use the best scientific tools and data available, combined with local knowledge plus a willingness to chase clear skies to give us excellent chances of photographing stunning auroral displays.
  • Flightseeing opportunities available and included.
  • Variety of landscapes (Forests, mountains, river ways, and yes...snow).
  • Wide variety of shooting locations available and scouted within a ~200 mile radius of Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Chance to learn a number of low-light and night sky shooting techniques across a variety of conditions.
  • Small group post-processing instruction is included - you'll be able to develop your images from this workshop under expert instruction and 1-on-1 learning.
  • Late season shooting means many late nights, but lower chances of cloud cover.
  • Maximum of 6 participants (3 per instructor) means individual attention and stronger camaraderie and collaboration with fellow photographers.
  • Red Cross First Aid / CPR Certified; we also travel with Long-range radios, sat phones, and GPS emergency response beacons.
  • Permitted and insured.
  • Vincent Ledvina (The Aurora Guy)

    Vincent is a professional aurora photographer and Ph.D. student studying the aurora. Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, Vincent began chasing auroras when he was 16 years old. Receiving his B.S. Physics from the University of North Dakota in 2022, he brought his passion for aurora chasing to North Dakota and colloquially earned the name "The Aurora Guy." Now, he is studying the aurora as a Ph.D. student does aurora chasing and tours professionally. His work has been featured on Good Morning America, ABC World News, FOX Weather, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more!

    Vincent specializes in aurora timelapse photography and real-time video. Combining technical and scientific expertise, Vincent has created stunning timelapse movies from his arctic adventures – he has spent months in northern locations such as Churchill, Manitoba, Iceland, and Fort Yukon, Alaska aurora chasing and perfecting his craft. Aside from photography, Vincent has extensive knowledge of how to predict the aurora, interpret space weather data, and is a Fairbanks resident, currently working on his Ph.D. in Space Physics, studying auroral beads at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

  • Marc Rassel

    Marc is an award-winning and exhibiting landscape astrophotographer and workshop leader based in Minnesota, USA with a particular interest in astronomy. He has traveled to many locations around the world both professionally and personally, and has extensive experience photographing these landscapes and the wonders of the night sky in a wide variety of conditions. Through the experiences of owning and running an advertising and design firm, and formal training in graphic design and fine arts, he has amassed an array of skills that allow him to apply both a technical and aesthetic approach to his work and that of his students. When not leading workshops, Marc spends much of his time in the outdoors exploring and photographing the deep Northwoods of the Midwest and the mountainous landscapes of Colorado.

Teaching topics

This night photography workshop concentrates on the following teaching topics:

  • Understand the the basic data and tools that help us determine the likelihood and strength of the Aurora
  • Planning and composing your shots in the field and through the use of technology
  • Getting oriented under the stars
  • Proper camera and exposure settings for night sky photography
  • Overview and usage of basic and advanced equipment
  • Calculating appropriate exposure times and settings
  • Understanding effective compositions
  • Planning and shooting composite images for clear foreground and sky
  • Focus-stacking (Shooting and processing)
  • Low-level lighting techniques for foreground elements
  • Shooting multiple exposures for image noise reduction
  • Post-processing workflows
  • Image editing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Timelapse editing in LRTimelapse

The visibility of the Northern Lights is highly dependent on weather. Light to moderate cloud cover will not prohibit us from seeing and shooting the Aurora. If we encounter dense cloud cover, we may adjust the shooting locations and/or focus on landscape shooting and education.

  • Trip includes

    • 7 Nights Lodging with private rooms in large shared cabin
    • Airport pick-up and drop-off
    • Local transportation
    • Flightseeing opportunities
    • Light snacks and refreshments (Hot beverages are a must!)
    • Professional guides
    • Field instruction
    • Post-processing instruction
    • Shared lighting equipment and stands
    • Photography guiding and instruction throughout the trip
  • Trip does NOT include

    • Airfare
    • Camera equipment
    • Laptop / post-processing software
    • Meals
    • Alcohol
    • Cold weather gear (we will provide hand warmers)

Recommended Equipment

  • Sturdy tripod with ball head
  • Digital SLR and/or mirrorless camera body with full manual control, preferably full-frame sensor (although cropped / APS-C will work)
  • Wide angle lens(es) with fast aperture (f2.8 or better). Some great lenses for night sky photography include the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (or 24mm), Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8
  • Zoom of approximately 24-105mm
  • If you have a telephoto (200mm+) and it’ll fit your travel plans, bring it along – you never know what we might find out in the field
  • Polarizing filters if you have them
  • Basic headlamp
  • Remote shutter release or basic intervalometer
  • Memory cards
  • Extra batteries (at least 3 fully-charged batteries per night)
  • Camera / lens cleaning supplies
  • Laptop / Lightroom and Photoshop software + file transfer accessories if you’d like to follow along during post-processing sessions
  • Hard drives and file backup accessories

If you don’t have everything you need, please contact me, I may be able to rent you the gear you need.

Packing List

Layered, warm clothing (We are likely to experience a very cold, wide range of temperatures, potentially from -40°F to 40°F)

Warm base layers for legs and torso, gloves, hat, jacket, shirts, snow pants, wool socks, face mask / balaclava and footwear / snow boots suitable for extremely cold weather (Avoid cotton in favor of wool fibers whenever possible).

Water bottles / hydration packs. We will provide hand / foot warmers, and hot beverages as needed throughout the workshop.

Important Logistics

When we will the workshop, we will create a Facebook group for us to meet/chat before we all make it up to Fairbanks. Marc and I will create an itinerary a couple months before the workshop and confirm flight times and airport pickups.

Workshop Cost

Workshop investment is $3,800 per person. One spot is available for a discounted rate at $3,450 that includes the loft bedroom vs. the other standard rooms.