Northern Lights and Winter Scenes
Photo Tour and Scouting Event

February 13-18, 2018
Limited to: 5 participants
Based in: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

This event is full. Contact me to get on waiting list.

Yellowknife bills itself as “The aurora capital of North America” for good reason. When you factor in access, photo vantage points, and the chance of seeing the lights, there may be no better place on Earth for viewing this spectacular light show. Yellowknife is situated directly under the Aurora Oval, the ring above the Earth’s Geomagnetic North Pole where the aurora borealis displays itself on a regular basis. While there are no guarantees, a visitor to Yellowknife during the winter is almost assured of seeing the northern lights.

It’s not only the aurora borealis that makes Yellowknife such a terrific location for photographers, it’s what lies under the lights as well. In winter, Yellowknife becomes a frozen fairytale land that offers exciting photo opportunities. The short days and long nights make it ideal for night photography. Your normal sleep pattern might be disrupted during this photo tour, but you will have the opportunity to photograph spectacular scenes that aren’t possible anywhere else.

I spent two weeks in Yellowknife 15 years ago, but it has been so long that I do not feel fully qualified to offer a normal photo tour in which all of the details are worked out ahead of time. So, I decided to make this trip a scouting photo tour and I will offer the normal tour in winter of 2019. During this scouting tour, I will be checking out the best lodging and restaurants for the 2019 group, and I will be gathering information on the best shooting locations. As a participant, you will be encouraged to offer suggestions and advice. The photographic opportunities during this photo tour will not be reduced as a result of the scouting. In fact, they likely will be increased. I’ll be checking out everything!

As past participants know, I do not normally photograph during photo tours. However, on this one, I will be photographing alongside you. This will not affect my ability to assist you with your photography in any way. You will take priority. With only 5 people, I will have no problem assisting everyone. Also, the small group will give us more flexibility in choosing shooting locations and setups. We will be able to cater more to the types of shots each of the participants want.

What you will photograph

The northern lights in a wide variety of settings. Foregrounds will include mountains, frozen lakes, snow-covered trees, frozen waterfalls, colorful house boats on frozen lakes, a snow castle, campsite setups (I will bring a tent), and more.
All kinds of winter landscapes and cityscapes during the day and night.
Sunrises and sunsets in and outside of town.

What you will learn

How to photograph the northern lights.
How to photograph the night sky.
Composition techniques for including the landscape with the night sky.
General night-photography techniques, including light painting.
How to photograph in cold weather.

Begin and end time

The photo tour will begin on the afternoon or early evening of Tuesday, February 13 and end sometime early Sunday morning on Sunday, February 18.

General itinerary

As I do with most photo tours, there is not a set itinerary for this trip. We will visit locations based on the weather and other conditions. We will photograph sunset each day and then spend the evening and night photographing the northern lights and other night scenes. We could stay out very late some nights. If we get back to the room in time for a little sleep before sunrise, we will photograph sunrise. We will be shooting during the day, but the emphasis of this trip will be night photography. As such, we will be using some of our daytime hours to catch up on much needed sleep.

What is included

Guiding and instruction.
Group transportation during the photo tour.

What is not included

Transportation to and from Yellowknife.

What you must bring

A detailed packing list will be provided when you register.

Physical requirements

Most of our shooting will take place very close to the vehicle or on packed snow. However, in some locations we may be walking short distances in deep snow and one optional hike will be about 0.75 mile. With the weight of winter clothing and camera gear, walking in the snow can be very tiring. We will pace ourselves accordingly. If you are in decent physical shape you should have no trouble, but I wanted to make you aware of the situation.  

Special considerations

There’s no way to sugar coat it. It’s going be cold! When I was there in February many years ago, they were having a heat wave. The temperature was -5°F during the day. It hit -25°F at night. We’ll be standing still for long periods of time photographing. And we may be walking short distances in deep snow. It’s imperative that you dress in layers or else you’ll sweat while walking and freeze standing still. Proper gloves and footwear are critical. I will be sending separate info about proper gear and clothing to all participants. Many of our shooting locations are far enough away from town that if you get too cold to shoot, you’ll end stuck in the vehicle with the engine running while everyone else is photographing. We won’t be able to take you back to the hotel.

Now for the good news. It’s not really as bad as it sounds. The air is so dry that it doesn’t seem as cold as it really is. And you’ll be so mesmerized by the light show overhead, you won’t be thinking as much about the cold. If you dress properly, you should be fine. I’ll be sending detailed info about how to prepare for this trip. Also, several companies in Yellowknife rent winter clothing, so you don’t have to bring heavy and bulky clothes on the plane. I’ll provide their information.

Another special consideration is your sleep cycle. It’s going to be blown to smithereens on this trip. We’ll be shooting mostly at night, so we’ll have to catch up on some sleep during the day. You need to accept this temporary disruption of your normal sleep pattern. Actually, you should embrace it, as it’s going to enable you to make some incredible images.  


Lodging is not included and you are free to stay where you like. I’ll be staying at the Days Inn. It would make things much easier if everyone else stays there as well. However, if that doesn’t work out for you, there are several other options nearby. Yellowknife is pretty small, even though it’s the major city in the Northwest Territories. Once I get confirmation from 5 people, I would be happy to share email address (with your approval, of course) so you can coordinate amongst yourselves regarding shared lodging. 

Cancellation policy

I do not have a cushion built in to this trip that allows for fewer than 5 people. So, if you cancel and I can’t fill your space, I could end up losing money. And because a trip like this requires a lot of advanced planning, it will be very hard to fill your space at the last minute. With that in mind, any cancellations made after October 13 cannot be refunded unless I can fill your space. If you must cancel before October 13, I will give a full refund, minus a $100 registration fee. 

More information:

Please read the general information regarding all events. There’s some stuff in there that you need to know. When you register for an event, I will send you detailed information, including a packing list and specific info about the location and time at which the event starts. If you need more information before you register, please contact me through email or call 336-870-4283.