My first sight of an aurora borealis.
Two years ago at this time, I was in northern Norway hunting the Aurora Borealis.
Standing at night outside in the cold looking in the starry sky. Admiring the countless bright spots on the dark surface. Than, slowly but sometimes all of a sudden, like someone has switched it on, it appears: the Aurora.
Bright, mostly green, light dances in front of the stars. It turns the scene in a mysterious ambience. Even the white snow turns greenish. What an experience. Sometimes it lasts only for a couple of quarters of an hour, sometimes it lasts nearly the whole night.
Sometimes it feels, like a painter has painted an abstract piece of art on the dark surface, while sometimes the changing rate of the light structures is enormously hight and builds new structures every few seconds. Sometimes it looks like the painting of light stands still in one place, and sometimes it moves rashly over the sky. Sometimes it looks like curtains and the next time you can see columns. Amazing!
You know, I mentioned Luminar and Aurora by Macphun several times here in my blog and I’m using them on a regular basis for my images, as well as the older product Tonality Pro.
Macphun will now officially be known as Skylum!
In order to celebrate this, they’ve prepared special exclusive bonuses and freebies which are included to every purchase of Luminar or Aurora HDR. Both software products are available for Mac and Windows.
Both products are currently availlable with a special discount and some bonuses. So, give it a try. Free trials are available for download on the Luminar 2018 trial page and the Aurora 2018 trial page.
…. from the polar circle. During the last 2 weeks I was way up in the North: about 300 km north of the polar circle in northern Norway. You might ask, why does one goes up north during winter voluntarily. That’s easy to answer: for seeing the northern light or polar light or aurora borealis.
This special light is only visible during the dark winter nights around the polar circle. That’s during November – March in the North or June – September in Antarctica. In the polar regions it isn’t visible either.
Eruptive material from the sun flows through the outer space. This is called solar wind. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere saves us from these dangerous rays and the magnetic field directs the rays around our planet. But, in the region around the magnetic north pole and the magnetic south pole the rays are able to come down inside the atmosphere and stimulates the atoms to shine. It’s a fantastic sight and an amazing experience.
The natural cycle of the solar activity has a run time of about 14 years. The last maximum was reached in fall 2013. Thus, we are in the waning part of the last cycle and the next waxing period is expected to arrive in about 10 years.
I got the opportunity, to join a small group to see the polar lights and it was fantastic. Kind of a one-in-a-lifetime experience. Beside the fantastic winterly landscapes in northern Norway. There was less snow than I have had expected to see and it was warmer than expected: from -9 to +4°C. That’s similar to the conditions in my home region during winter. (Expect the amazing landscapes 🙂 ).
During the two weeks we have had 7 viewings in quite good conditions and 2 bad ones, where the sky wasn’t clear but covered with translucent clouds, where the aurora was able to shine through like light coming through fog. The other nights the sky was completely covered by clouds. So, summing all of this up this is a very good result in my opinion. Putting the waning cycle also in account (where we have had to expect only quite weak auroras), the results are very fantastic (especially for me as a freshman).
Photographing an Aurora is very hard. You have to have a camera, that is able to work well in high ISO (> 3200) without or at least with low noise. You need a sturdy tripod because of the long exposure times and fast wide-angle lenses (f2.8 or faster – the faster, the better). And, you have to be able to control your camera blind in complete dark. But, the most complicated thing is focussing! Especially with the modern auto-focus lenses. They don’t have a fix infinity point anymore.
In the gallery below, you can see a few impressions from both landscapes and auroras.