Midnight Sun, Brooks Range, Alaska

On this, the longest day of the northern year, the sun never sets at the Arctic Circle. It loops around, kissing the northern horizon and casting an otherworldly orange glow before rising again.

In 1996, I drove north on Alaska’s Dalton Highway, past the Arctic Circle roadside pullout, beyond Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range and down onto the broad open plains that lead to the Arctic Ocean. I parked in an old pipeline gravel pit and set up my tripod.

At 175 miles north of the circle, my compass wasn’t much use. I took my best guess at true north, put the sun on the left side of the viewfinder and started clicking. Using an old panoramic film camera, I only had one shot at this. In the days before digital intervalometers, I used my watch to time the intervals. Every 15 minutes I brushed off the bugs, cocked and clicked the shutter, and sat back down.

At five in the morning with the sun climbing back into the sky and the mosquitos gathering strength, I packed it all up and went looking for somewhere to catch a bit of sleep.




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