The Northern Lights, Norway 2017
The Northern Lights have been on my bucket list for a very long time, and when I got into photography a couple of years ago, seeing (and photographing them) moved quite high on my list. I could have stayed in Canada and gone North, but I wanted to explore other parts of the world and as mentioned in part 1, I narrowed things down to Lofoten Islands and Iceland and eventually picked Lofoten Islands. I will make it to Iceland soon, hopefully!
There is always a risk that you will not get to see the Northern lights when you travel, even when you head to a destination where they are visible often and at the right time of the year... They might be visible, but not very strong, or there might be too much cloud cover to see anything! How disappointing would that be?! In the 8 days I spent in Lofoten, we got to see them twice and we struck out two other times when we were out chasing them to no avail. I guess it is all part of the adventure... And part of why they are so awesome!
Our trip started out with a bang... On our first day, at around 7pm, we got a message telling us to grab our camera gear and go outside. NOW. The lights were dancing above our cabins and wow, it was spectacular to see them in action for the first time! It was an amazing experience, standing there and watching them move all around up, changing color, direction and shape. One minute they were on one side of the cabins, then they were behind the mountains, went away for a bit and came back for a bit more dancing around in the sky. I decided that Aurora Borealis had ADHD.
I was trying hard to find the balance between looking up at the sky, staring in disbelieve, soaking it all in... And focusing on creating images, documenting the moment. I definitly went to sleep with a huge grin on my face that night.
Pro tip / PSA - Dim the lights in the cabins, just a bit, before heading out... It was actually a bit challenging getting the exposure right with the bright lights shining through the cabin windows... Mine and my trip roommate Chrissy's cabin was the worst, Haha. Ooops!
On our second to last night, the KP numbers were promising, so we headed out at stupid o'clock... Aka approx 3am (if memory serves me right). We drove around and around, searching for the lights, but we never found them... Maybe they were hiding, maybe the cloud cover was a bit too much... Who knows. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at the side of the road in the middle of no where, mostly just to stretch the legs a bit and take a break, as we we all pretty tired and disappointed. We had two options: head back to the cabins for an hour of so of sleep before going out to shoot sunrise, or to hang out for a bit and wait for sunrise. We ended up picking the latter, so we just laid in the snow, making snow angels and staring at the sky. Then all of a sudden, the skies started to clear and there extremely vivid pre-dawn blue and pink colors started to appear, making the 2:30am wake up call worth it.
These awesome lights lit up the skies and then disappeared as quickly as they appeared... An hour later, we were at a different location shooting sunrise before heading back to the cabins for some food, a very long nap and packing all our stuff. I was booked on a ~6:00am flight back to Oslo and then Vancouver the next day, so I wanted to have everything packed up and ready to go, as were were going to chase the lights again on our last night in Norway - The forecast was promising!
The skies were clear, and the forecast was accurate. The lights appeared at our cabins again around 7pm, then danced their way elsewhere... And we went after them, driving through all the beaches/fjords, shooting at various locations. Of course, my go to night photography lens decided to somehow break... Luckily, I got a loaner lens that was sharp and fun to play with. Phew! We were out until around 1am, so I got about 2.5 hours of sleep before beginning my long journey home. Good thing I packed my bags in advance! Of course, it was completely worth the sleep deprivation...
Have you seen the Northern lights? If yes, where did you see them? If not, what are you waiting for?! Don't wait until you get the opportunity to do so... Go and create that opportunity for yourself. I promise you will not regret it.
Next up... The final post from Lofoten Islands - The seascapes!