Photographing STEVE was on my photo bucket list. Although I’ve seen the northern lights many times this was the first and only time, I’ve seen this rare astro-phenomena. It was bright at first then faded very quickly. I feel extremely fortunate to have squeezed off eight frames. This image of STEVE reflects my goal of capturing wildlife and wild lands few people see first-hand.
How I got the shot
Living in a rainforest that receives 13+ feet of rain a year and being at latitude 56 N, it’s difficult to capture images of the northern lights. I constantly monitor the local weather and the aurora forecast. If it’s a clear night and the KP index is three or higher, I venture out to see if can capture the northern lights. I’ve been going to this location to shoot the northern lights for over 15 years. This was the first and only time I’ve seen STEVE!
What I Used
I used my Nikon D610, with a tripod and remote release and my Nikkor 28-300mm lens at 28mm, 25 seconds, f/4, ISO 1600. I shot this image in RAW and used Adobe Lightroom Classic to process it. I choose a 16in x 9in crop to emphasize the height of my subject and awe of the moment.
I live in the southeastern Alaskan island town of Ketchikan, located in a temperate rainforest called the Tongass National Forest. I don’t earn a living with my photography, which I feel like is a general qualification of a professional artist, but I seek professional experiences, such as artist residencies and competitions like this one. I got my first DSLR in 2006 but began pursuing nature photography seriously in 2016 after being awarded an artist residency at Ernest Gruening State Historical park, near Juneau Alaska.
My given name is Naona, but everyone calls me Peaches, a nickname my father gave me as baby because he thought my fuzzy bald head looked like a peach! My passion for nature photography is rooted in my experience as a child growing up in the Alaska bush. My family lived completely off the grid in a cabin on a remote island only accessible by boat or sea plane. When you live in the wilderness, day-to-day living revolves around your ability to observe nature: the weather, the tides, and the seasons. While learning to read the landscape I formed a deep connection with the natural world. A connection which greatly influences my artistic practice and process today.
My photographic journey
As a child, I was fascinated by the surrounding scenery; from the cleansing smell of fresh rainfall, to an awe-inspiring sunset, to the wonder of rain splattering on calm ocean surface. My childhood admiration for beauty in the Alaskan wild developed into a nature-inspired artistic intuition. Being in nature immediately grounds me in the present. I see beautiful images everywhere and my creativity comes alive. Now, as an adult, when I witness these moments I’m inspired to create and share them as photographs.
NANPA and me
I joined NANPA in the fall of 2017. I made top 250 in the 2018 NANPA Showcase and Top 100 in the 2020 NANPA Showcase.