12-February-2013

Gone to Norway – Northern Lights Chase – 2013

For my second night of chasing Aurora I went with “Northern Lights with Green Fox Guiding- When The Sky Becomes Magic”. Green Fox Guiding is a relatively new company, but Jacek Orasinski has been working in the Tromsø area as a guide for the last 11 years. Jacek is originally from Poland. The group was picked up in front of the Tromsø Tourist Information center at 17:00 (5 PM). There was low fog covering Tromsø. Jacek was pretty sure that as soon as we got away from the city we would have some clear skies. The Space Weather report was also favorable for the appearance of auroras during the night. A little after 18:30 we had our first sighting. This was one of the earliest displays that Jacek had seen this season. We stopped along the side of the road and got some initial images. Jacek drove us a little further to a better location with mountains in the background. Even though there was just barely a sliver of the moon, a couple of Norwegians were climbing the mountain. While photographing the Northern Lights we watched these two tiny lights climb up the mountain and then ski down in the dark. Once down, they started up the mountain again. Jacek knew that I was looking for something unique to use as a background. He brought us to an abandoned coal mine which I thought was great. I think the others got board after a few minutes at the site. I framed an image of the Northern Lights display with the silhouette of a coal chute in the foreground. As I was taking the 30 second exposure, a tour bus drove by and lit up the coal chute. I wasn’t planning on doing light painting – but as can be seen below I am happy with the result. We continued on to several other locations, with the Northern Light displays getting better and better. Finally, we ended up on a beach where we continued shooting. Jacek built a wood fire to heat his signature “Fish Soup”. We were provided with reindeer skins to sit on as we ate the soup. After dinner the Northern Light displays continued for another 3 hours. Although I thought last night was great, this was an order of magnitude better. Jacek even said it was the best night he had seed this season. In all, I took about 1400 images. Many, many will be used for time-lapsed videos. I didn’t get back to the hotel until 2 AM and then couldn’t sleep as I wanted to start reviewing the images.
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Northern Lights and Coal Mine on Kvaløy (Whale) island in Norrway. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 800, 16 mm, f/2.8, 30 sec).. (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights and Coal Mine on Kvaløy (Whale) island in Norrway. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 800, 16 mm, f/2.8, 30 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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