Fall is a very short season in Yellowknife. In addition to that, we don’t get a large range of fall colors. Nothing like if we were in the Carolinas in the southern United States with all the reds, oranges and yellows. Here, we see mostly yellows for maybe a two week period before they’re gone. In my time in Yellowknife, there were years when snow was on the ground by September 18.
So if you are a photographer in Yellowknife, you may put your camera away this time of year. Of course there are exceptions; it is the start of Aurora season, but what if Aurora is not your thing and you want to shoot more than just Mother Nature’s Light Show?
That may not be the only problem. Where do you shoot? There are lots of places where you will often find crowds of shooters out with their cameras, but there are some less-traveled places, as well. To help with these problems, here are some places and things I look for during our short autumn weeks. Some you may know and others you may not. Either way, I think they are great areas to photograph.
Let’s start with what I call Johnson’s Rock in Old Town (I am not sure if it has an actual name). Every year, a lot of tourists climb the stairs at Pilot’s Monument to photograph and view the city. Pilot’s Monument has some issues for me, there are power lines, phone lines and cable lines in every direction. If you stop a little sooner on your drive, you may find a better location. I usually stop near the old Johnson’s Building Supplies. From there, you can either photograph the artwork on the rock face or hike past it to the teepee on top of the rock outcrop. At the top you will find a view with little or no wires in your image. The view is slightly different but still great and you should find it a much bigger area to explore than Pilot’s. Plus, I love the detail in the artwork there.
Giant Mine Boat Launch and Area
My second place is the boat launch at the Giant Mine Town site just outside of town. Sure it’s sometimes busy and full of locals and tourists, but you may find it hard to get the Aurora and lights from our fair city as clear elsewhere. If you are there before the ice forms, the reflections in Back Bay can add even stronger elements to your work. I have also found there is something about the air in that location during that time of year. The images are crisp and clear, much like the cool northern air. I have even tried to find out if the air conditions affect a lens image quality. If it does, I am sure some lenses will be affected differently than others, but that may be another topic altogether. Whether it is empty or crowded, the boat launch is always interesting.
If you have taken the time to explore the Boat Launch, don’t forget three other areas nearby; one is the old equipment display right next door. There are literally thousands of photographs waiting to be made there (including the odd wildlife shot). The second is Giant Mine itself, and the third is the old start to the Ingraham Trail. To get here, stay inside city limits but head toward the Yellowknife River, just before the rock cut take a left onto the old road there. You will be amazed at the fun it will bring you. However, depending on how construction of the new Ingraham Trail goes, this location may not be reachable soon.
My fourth location is not really a location at all, but a subject. Fox activity in Yellowknife seems to be on the rise in the fall. I am not sure if it is the foxes getting some late season feeding done in preparation for winter, or if I just notice them more. Whichever it is, I am not sure I care, I just like that our furry fox friends are around in abundance for us to shoot (with cameras only, of course). So get out and find your favorite foxy location and fire away. The Range Lake and Frame Lake Trails and the area around the Museum and the Ski Club are all excellent choices.
The Sand Pits and your own backyard!
I have two final places for consideration. The Sand Pits out by the airport are great all year and fall is no exception. I love shooting random family and kids shots there. The warm fall colors and tones in the sand are amazing, and watching people interact with them makes for great images. Finally, never forget to look for images in or around your own yards. Part of being a photographer is seeing and understanding that you don’t have to travel far to capture wonderful things.
Most important of all is for you to get out with your camera in hand and capture the things around you. It is even better if you share what you see.