Minnesota Northern Lights over the Pigeon River

Minnesota northern lights

Over the past 17 days, I’ve canoed about 250 or so miles from Crane Lake to Lake Superior via the Border Route in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I joined Amy and Dave Freeman of Wilderness Classroom. They been out all summer and paddled over 2,300 miles from the Great Slave Lake to Superior. On our last night out we witnessed some of the best Minnesota Northern Lights that I’ve seen. They were as red as blood and bright bright green. The Minnesota northern lights were the best way to end of trip. What a treat. Here are a few photos of the northern lights.

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  1. Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Amazing photos!!! Thanks for sharing these with those of us who had total cloud cover that night :)

    • Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      You’re welcome. It was an amazing display!

  2. D Chick
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Bryn don’t know if you remember me and my wife Mickey, we met by the light house, you were shooting the moon and I was shooting lights circles a couple of months ago. I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the Northern lights photos, we also had cloud cover. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos.

    • Posted 27 Oct ’11 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      I remember you. I’ve tried a few of those light ball shots, but still haven’t gotten a good one. Thanks for the compliment and I’m glad that you enjoy the pics.

  3. Chris
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    These are breathtaking! Our trip to MN 2 weeks ago provided one nice day and then a full day of rain. We didn’t have any luck seeing the lights so thanks for sharing! So, I’m sure you’re always asked questions – but I’m in a photography class now and we are just touching base on aperature and shutter speed. Can I ask how you shot these pictures?
    Thanks and I look forward to future pictures :)

    • Posted 27 Oct ’11 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks. For shooting northern lights, I start with a f/4 to 5.6, Iso 400-800 and shutter speeds from 4 seconds to 30. It varies based on how bright they are and if the moon is out, etc… It’s just like shooting during the day, but you need longer exposures.

  4. Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    What awesome images Bryan-wish I’d been there-we don’t get those very often in Iowa.

    • Posted 27 Oct ’11 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Mike, these actually were so good that they made it far south.

  5. Melanie Schecker
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Quite humbling I imagine. Awesome interpretation!!!

    • Posted 27 Oct ’11 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Mellanie.

    • Melanie P-Schecker
      Posted 27 Oct ’11 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Sorry about the triple comment, phone not working correctly at time

  6. Melanie Schecker
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Awesome-love your interpretation!!!

  7. Melanie P-Schecker
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 8:06 pm | Permalink


  8. bill griffin
    Posted 26 Oct ’11 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    fantastice pics, really appreciate your postings

  9. Posted 28 Oct ’11 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos….great lights, missed my chance in Twin Cities…next time:)

    Do you absolutely need a tripod while shooting the long exposures, and did you use manual or shutter speed mode?

    • Posted 28 Oct ’11 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you need a tripod. Without one, your pictures will look blurry. I typically use manual or aperture priority modes. For the northern lights, manual mode gives you flexibility to quickly make changes and lock those changes in after you nail it. I don’t remember the last time I used shutter speed priority.

  10. Bryan Smith
    Posted 30 Oct ’11 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Bryan, You have some awsome shots here. The fire and sky shot is award winning! We had the lights down here in Lake City, MN. mostly red. Thanks for the post.

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