Monday (11-February-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013. Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 14: Tromsø.

As the wormhole began to open clouds appeared, reducing the intensity of the burning green rays. This provided some cover and protection for earthlings below….

After leaving the two French Photographers at the Ferry to take them to Finnsnes, I decided to spend the next three nights outside of Tromsø to maximize my chance of viewing and photographing the Northern Lights. There are at least 20 vendors offering trips in Tromsø this year specifically to view Northern Lights. The most famous one is booked a year in advance (after being featured on a BBC TV program for finding a place to view the Northern Lights when the BBC film crew all but struck out). I eliminated the big tour bus, dinner boat, and dog sled northern light tours, and selected 3 based on recommendations at the Tromsø tourist information center. I am glad that I stopped at the tourist information center when we stopped in Tromsø on the northbound Hurtigruten voyage as the tours do get booked and fill up in advance. They all claim to find somewhere that is clear with a good chance of seeing northern lights – whether it is along the coast, up a mountain, or all the way to Sweden or Finland. One even tells you to bring your passport along in case they do cross the border.

The first trip was “Aurora Photo Tour with Professional Photographer” from Creative Vacations. The trip is led by Vidar Dons Lindrupsen. He picked a group of seven up in front of the Blu Radisson Hotel and brought us to his house. There we had a workshop on the basics for successfully capturing Aurora images with a digital camera. Vidar is fluent in several languages. Our group included folks from France, Germany, Brazil, Spain plus myself from the United States. For those that needed, he provided tripods and warm arctic outerwear as we were about to spend the next several hours outdoors photographing the Northern Lights. We stopped at several locations and I got some great images, including the one posted below. I also was able to take several sequences that I should be able to use for time-lapse videos. These were some of the best northern light displays that I had ever seen, but probably average by folks that live in this region. When the clouds started to come in and we only were getting diffuse images through the clouds, Vidar served some hot lentil soup — very welcome after standing for several hours in the cold.

Northern Lights in Tromvik, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 1000, 16 mm, f/2.8, 15 sec). (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights in Tromvik, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon D800 camera and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 1000, 16 mm, f/2.8, 15 sec). (David J Mathre)

Author: David Mathre

I am a scientist by training (Eckerd College, BSc; Caltech, Ph.D.). I worked for 27 years as a Chemist in the Pharmaceutical Industry developing processes to manufacture medicines for human and animal health. I now spend my time as a photographer and world traveler. My interests in photography include the natural world, wildlife, landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. I have traveled to over 50 countries over the last 10 years, often on Semester at Sea voyages. While at home in New Jersey, I spend time on a home renovation project and expanding my wildflower garden/meadow.

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