Wilderness Voices: Travis Novitsky

Wilderness Voices: Travis Novitsky

At the edge of Minnesota and Canada, along the shores of the big lake, Travis Novitsky finds endless inspiration in the light, the land, and the water. A photographer and citizen of the Grand Portage Anishinabe Nation, he talks with Quetico Superior Wilderness News.


“For me, Minnesota’s boreal forest is home. It is where I grew up and where I feel the most connected and comfortable. I feel a sense of peace here that I have never felt anywhere else. The beauty here is unique and the variety in the environment is staggering. Northeast Minnesota is packed with lakes, rivers, canyons, mountains (not like out West, but we do have the highest – and lowest! – elevations in Minnesota) and a fantastic network of forest roads. For a nature photographer, it is a very good place to be and I never feel like there is a shortage of photographic subjects. The beauty here may not be on the same jaw-dropping grand scale that it is in places such as the west/southwest, but it is no less impressive. The beauty of the boreal forest is more intimate. And once you get to know it, it grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go.”

QSWN: What interests you about the night sky?
“My interest in the night sky goes back to at least elementary school. As a kid in the 80’s I remember being fascinated with the stars and beautiful moonlit nights. I loved riding my bike under the light of the full moon on a summer night and camping under the shockingly bright stars during the new moon phase. As I grew older and acquired my first SLR film camera then my first digital SLR camera, I started to gain more of an interest in the northern lights. I made my first images of the Aurora Borealis in 2001. From that moment on, I was hooked on trying to improve my technique and compositions each time I would head out to try and photograph the aurora. Before long I started to become known as a night sky photographer and all of a sudden people were asking me “when do you sleep?” To this day, my favorite thing to do as a photographer is spend a night basking in the glow of the stars or gazing in awe at a sky filled with dancing auroras. Nighttime is a magic time and the quality of light after dark is sublime. And it just so happens that Northeast Minnesota is home to some of the darkest skies in the country! Some of my most unforgettable moments are sitting on the shores of a boreal forest lake on a calm night with no wind, watching the northern lights dance overhead while the haunting calls of loons echo across the water.”

Photographer Travis Novitsky

QSWN: You live in Grand Portage and the Lake Superior region is prominent in your work – what concerns you regarding these places?
“I try to stay in the moment as much as possible, a practice I’ve adhered to as often as I can throughout my life. As such, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what might be or what could happen. I feel this approach helps me not only in my interpretation of the world through my photographs but also in my enjoyment of each and every moment spent outdoors and the sense of fulfillment I get from being immersed in that moment. That being said, I am fully aware there are many challenges facing these places that I love and call my home. It is my hope that perhaps my images will help people to realize that the places that I (and others) love so much are places that need protecting for the generations yet to come.”

QSWN: Where can we see more of your work?
“I have prints of my night sky images on display through the summer of 2019 at the Cook County Higher Education building in Grand Marais, MN. I also have a collection of images that are part of the permanent exhibit space in the Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Center.”

See more at www.travisnovitsky.com


All photographs ©Travis Novitsky


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