Aurora Borealis

All posts tagged Aurora Borealis

I’ve decided to stick in the cold for a bit.
Last year we went to Norway to shoot the Northern Lights. It almost turned out in one big expensive disappointing trip.
This year we went again, and it turned out in one big great expensive trip (3 Peppe Pizzas for 108,00€: chaCHING!!!!). But the photos we got were absolutely breath-taking. And no need to Photoshop anything into another picture. All these are genuine and -save for some color adjustments here and there (foreground mostly, not the Lights)- unedited.

I’ll not bore you with any superfluous words. Judge for yourself.

Northern Lights dancing over the hills in Norway

D800, ISO800, 15 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

Northern Lights dancing over the hills in Norway

D800, ISO800, 30 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

Northern Lights dancing over the hills in Norway

D800, ISO800, 30 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

Northern Lights dancing over the hills in Norway

D800, ISO800, 79 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm, and a little torch to illuminate the barn to the right for about 15 secs

Northern Lights dancing over the hills in Norway

D800, ISO800, 30 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

Prints are available from here:
My Norway Gallery on Photoshelter (link opens in a new window).

Our trip to Norway to shoot the Northern Lights was quickly on its way to turn into a big, expensive disaster. We had one more chance, one more night.
And it was a clear night. A beautiful night. A cold night. So nothing could go wrong, right?
Or so we thought…

We arrived at our destination, Ersfjordbotn, well in time. Just before sunset. We set up, and I shot some pictures of the setting sun.

Ersfjordbotn, Norway

D700, ISO200, 6 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Ersfjordbotn, Norway

D700, ISO200, 10 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

 

Ersfjordbotn, Norway

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/16, Nikkor 70-200mm

And then the waiting started… In the end you of course never know. 80% is a good chance, but there’s still 20% chance to nothing. Slowly, with frustration, cold and a tickling bladder (not yet tRickling) creeping up on us it looked like we hit the jackpot with 20% of zilch. The arm and leg we paid for the trip to this country where everything seems to costs nothing short of fluid gold, was going to fly by with nothing to show for. At least not that what we set out for…

We shot a few pictures in the hours that passed (and hours they were, and stubborn WE were).

Ersfjordbotn, Norway

D700, ISO200, 1/6 sec @ f/16, Nikkor 14-24mm

Ersfjordbotn, Norway

D700, ISO800, 6 sec @ f/2,8, Nikkor 14-24mm

We got company from a few other photographers and it didn’t help our mood when one of them told us that the previous night had been spectacular over Tromsø. We had been sitting out in the cold for about seven hours waiting for the Lights to come, because it was supposed to have been overcast over Tromsø and clear where we are, and we went home empty-handed only to find out that we should’ve best stayed in Tromsø and we would’ve had a great show. But no…

In the end it doesn’t matter how stubborn you are, how eager you are, how patient you are… After sitting in the cold for another six or so hours we accepted our losses and packed up our gear and headed back home. Our newly acquired photographer-friend hitched a ride with us back towards town. And I’ll be damned… we were just over the hills when he shouts “Look there! It’s starting! Pull over!”
Sure as I’m sitting here writing this… the sky turned all green on us and it was dancing like there was no tomorrow.

Sure, you see it on pictures. And it’s beautiful on pictures. But when you see it for real, when you see it with your own eyes… It’s nothing short of breath-taking. Here’s a piece of nature phenomena which struck me silent on the spot. The first five-ten minutes we just stood there gaping at with mouths open. If it would’ve lasted for only that time, we still wouldn’t have had any pictures of it. But we at least saw it in its full beauty. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures. And I have pictures coming up. But I couldn’t possibly explain how it is to look at this in real life.

The only thing… Pictures are brighter. It doesn’t happen often that the pictures are more beautiful in terms of color, saturation and vibrance (unless of course you bump the sliders in post-processing), but the actual Northern Lights aren’t all that bright. They are very clear, and very visible, that’s not it, but the colors in the pictures, even in the unedited raw files, are so much deeper and saturated than what I saw with my own eyes…
Not that it takes away any of the awe that it gave me…

I’m planning another trip. I realize we pushed it in terms of time left before the climate changed too much for the chances to see the Northern Lights. Next year it’ll be early/mid February instead of end March.

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights

D700, ISO400, 6 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights

D700, ISO800, 4 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights

D700, ISO800, 4 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights

D700, ISO800, 6 sec @ f/2,8, Nikkor 14-24mm

(So yeah, the last one’s photoshopped, but that was because I was so frustrated and I so badly wanted to have a picture with the Northern Lights coming into that point where the mountains meet… I’ll get a real one of those next year 😉 )