nature and wildlife photography by Joseph Classen

Alaska Night Sky Gallery

The northern lights dance wildly over a photographer’s vehicle. Kodiak Island, Alaska. Joseph Classen.
Out and about chasing the light in Alaska!

There is nothing quite like being under the endless expanse of a starlit, Alaska night sky and watching the Northern Lights dance across the atmosphere. It is an experience that awakens the mind and stirs the soul in unforgettable ways. Being far away from the light pollution of the city, and pondering the incomprehensible vastness of the universe both bestows a sense of humility, as well as sparks the imagination. When we earth dwellers take the time to look up, it can open a whole new beautiful world to explore, especially with one’s camera.

Photographing the night sky, or, astrophotography, as it’s commonly referred to, is a genre I was introduced to by other Alaskan photographers. When I first saw stunning images of star trails, popular constellations, the Milky Way, the moon, and the Aurora Borealis, my mind was totally blown! Astrophotography is very popular in places like Alaska, mostly because it’s an ideal location for it. The long, dark winter nights, lack of light pollution, and breathtaking natural scenery that is all around provide the perfect environment for creating wondrous images of the universe above.

Many subjects of nature photography prove to be extremely elusive, and it can be a great challenge and gamble when seeking to photograph them. This is especially the case when photographing images of the heavens, or even urban subjects at night.  A perfectly composed, magnificently captured “nightscape,” as I like to call my nighttime images, is one that is planned out well ahead of time. One has to patiently wait for, and work with, what Mother Nature provides…as there are many organic factors to consider. Too much moonlight, a sudden, incoming wave of cloud cover, rising fog, a burst of precipitation, etc., are all things that can make-or-break a nighttime photo-shoot. It can take days, weeks, and even months of waiting for all the elements of nature to work together in such a manner that produces optimal conditions…especially with subjects like the Aurora Borealis.  

Whether it’s chasing the lights in the sky, or the beautiful, after hours illumination of man-made objects, night photography has become one of my favorite genres. I’ve spent many a long, cold night, lurking around like a vampire, while searching for what would become memorable compositions. This gallery contains my favorites thus far. As an added extra, at the bottom of the page is a video about photographing the Northern Lights which I hope you will enjoy.