The Crown Jewel
It took 4 years of trying and planning and as many failed trips to Denali National Park and Preserve to make this image happen but the day after Thanksgiving I have much to be grateful for as all the elements finally came together to make this photo possible. Despite temps that dipped down colder than -40ºF causing the frost to win the battle with our car's defrost for the windshield, the conditions were nearly perfect! The wind was nonexistent (very rare for this usually windy location) which helped to keep the trees sharp over the 10 second exposure, the moon was nearly full and coming from the southwest (perfect angle and amount of light for this location), and after working the scene to get the right composition and waiting for nearly an hour, the lights danced magically for about 10 minutes. They then faded out and never really returned. This results from part skill, part planning, part stubbornness and part just dumb luck.