Four-Years Ago (10-February-2013) — Norway

Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. A random selection of images taken during the day. After dinner we did see a glimmer of Northern Lights peek through the bright city lights.

"Respect" Stencil on a billboard recently cleared of posts. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 200, 18.5 mm, f/2.5, 1/400 sec). (David J Mathre)
"Respect" Stencil on a billboard recently cleared of posts. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 200, 18.5 mm, f/2.5, 1/400 sec). (David J Mathre)
"Hot Pants" Sunday outdoor market/festival . Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
"Hot Pants" Sunday outdoor market/festival . Winter walkabout in Tromsø Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
"Locked Out". Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 400, 18.5 mm, f/1.8, 1/160 sec). (David J Mathre)
"Locked Out". Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 400, 18.5 mm, f/1.8, 1/160 sec). (David J Mathre)
Graffiti on a wall. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 200, 18.5 mm, f/2.5, 1/400 sec). (David J Mathre)
Graffiti on a wall. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 200, 18.5 mm, f/2.5, 1/400 sec). (David J Mathre)
Locked winter door. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Locked winter door. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Dead grass and rock along the harbor walkway. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Dead grass and rock along the harbor walkway. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Billboard. My Norwegian is rusty. As best I can translate -- "Momma has been too long at the conference, with dad and too much popcorn and ice cream". Initially, I thought the kid was upset about his haircut... Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 220, 18.5 mm, f/2, 1/250 sec). (David J Mathre)
Billboard. My Norwegian is rusty. As best I can translate — "Momma has been too long at the conference, with dad and too much popcorn and ice cream". Initially, I thought the kid was upset about his haircut… Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 220, 18.5 mm, f/2, 1/250 sec). (David J Mathre)
Toy store??? Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 320, 18.5 mm, f/2, 1/250 sec). (David J Mathre)
Toy store??? Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 320, 18.5 mm, f/2, 1/250 sec). (David J Mathre)
Using a very long hockey stick to clear the icicles above a storefront. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Using a very long hockey stick to clear the icicles above a storefront. Winter walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (ISO 180, 18.5 mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Glimmer of Northern Lights peeking past the night lights in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 800, 10 mm, f/2.8, 1 sec). (David J Mathre)
Glimmer of Northern Lights peeking past the night lights in Tromsø, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 800, 10 mm, f/2.8, 1 sec). (David J Mathre)

19-March-2014

Iceland Photography Workshop

Pond and Mossy Field Below the Hvannadalshnjukur Glacier in Southeastern Iceland. HDR Composite of three images taken with a Fuji X-T1 camera and Zeiss 12 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 200, 12 mm, f/16) (David J Mathre)
Pond and Mossy Field Below the Hvannadalshnjukur Glacier in Southeastern Iceland. HDR Composite of three images taken with a Fuji X-T1 camera and Zeiss 12 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 200, 12 mm, f/16) (David J Mathre)

I just returned from a Winter Photography Workshop in Iceland. I’ve already posted a few images from the trip on Google+, which have been reposted here. One of the reasons I signed up for the trip was the opportunity to photograph Northern Lights from Iceland. Last year I got some great images of the Aurora Borealis in Tromsö, Norway and hoped to do the same in Iceland. I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland two days before the workshop and arranged a private tour with TripsByLocals.com to go Aurora Hunting. It didn’t look promising when we left the hotel (snowing an hour earlier). For the first 2 hours the sky remained mostly overcast. We then found a spot where the sky started to clear, and started to see the Aurora. It was cold and windy, but I found a place behind the van where I could set up a camera on a tripod. I was able to get 80 images which I used to create a time-lapsed video. The moon was almost full, and lit up the snow covered lava field in the foreground. It turned out that this was my only opportunity to get some good images of the Aurora on this trip. My father commented that it was not as good as the images I got in Tromsö last year. The weather for the Iceland workshop did not cooperate – lots of rain and snow with significant cloud cover. On the first day of the workshop we were supposed to fly from Reykjavik to Höfn but the weather in Höfn didn’t cooperate (even though it was sunny in Reykjavik). After spending some extra time waiting in the Reykjavik airport, it was decided that we would fly to Egilsstadir and take a several hour bus ride to Höfn. On the positive side, I got to see some of the Fjords on the east coast of Iceland, and on the negative side I lost a camera battery on the bus ride between Egilsstadir and Höfn when we had to change from a big 55 passenger bus to a smaller van. Once we got to the airport in Höfn we transferred to the van that would be our transportation for the rest of the workshop. Our first stop was the black sand beach on the coast next to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Every day when the tide goes out, ice that calved from the glacier in the lagoon goes out to sea, then when the tide comes in, the ice lands on the black sand beach. The makes for some great photo opportunities. However, as we arrived the rain started. We could only stay out for about 15 minutes before getting soaked in the cold and windy rain. We then went to Hotel Smyrlabjörg. I stayed at the same hotel last summer. The Icelandic food served at dinner was outstanding. When I went to sleep it was still raining. During the night the wind increased to the point it sounded like a train was passing outside my window. At about 01:30 AM I woke up and could see some stars in the sky outside my window. I went outside to get a look. It was still very windy. Windy to the point that I could barely stand up. I took a couple of pictures, and could see that the Northern Lights were starting – but there was no way I would be able to stay out in the gale force winds. So I went back to bed. The next morning at breakfast our workshop leader was gushing about how great the Aurora was between 03:30 AM and 05:30 AM. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to wake the majority of the workshop participants even though he stayed out taking images for his portfolio. There were lots of apologies and excuses that he didn’t know what rooms we were in, but we were all staying in adjacent rooms. This turned out to be the one and only night that the Aurora were visible during the workshop. I was lucky to get the one night before the workshop to see and photograph the Aurora. Most of the others that spent thousands of dollars to see and photograph the Northern Lights as part of the workshop were very disappointed.

01-January-2014

<em><strong>Happy New Year Everyone.</strong><em>

Image of me in Colorado taken by Jason Odell with an IR converted Nikon 1 V1 camera
Image of me in Colorado taken by Jason Odell with an IR converted Nikon 1 V1 camera

 

Let’s see if I can get back to posting something new to my “Image of the Day Photoblog” each and everyday. Last year I traveled a bit (or should I say a lot), and as a result fell back to just having my Google+ posts reposted on the Photoblog. I began the year in January with a quick road trip to Florida to visit family and then some time at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. At the end of January, I flew to Bergen, Norway and then embarked on a voyage on the Hurtigruten M/V Nordkapp from Bergen to Kirkenes and then back to Bergen. On the return voyage I stopped in Tromsø for a week to meet up with some friends to experience and photograph the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). In April, I went back to Florida to join my parents for an extended Semester at Sea Spring Enrichment Voyage on the M/V Explorer. We flew from Tampa to Barcelona (via Gatwick in England). Over the next 52 days we visited 19 countries (Spain, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Norway, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany). I must have been getting board, so at the end of July into August decided to spend 10 days in Iceland to attend a Nikonians Photo Safari with Mike Hagen and Tim Vollmer. In September, I started my annual “Gone to See America” 27 day road trip. This year I started on a northern route (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan). I spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then continued west (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado). While in Colorado, I spent in and around Buena Vista for a Colorado Photo Safari with Jason Odell. We were supposed to have spent the time in Rocky Mountain National Park, but had to change the location due to the severe flooding along the Front Range in Colorado. I then continued west and south (Utah and Arizona) to join up for a week with the Nikonians ANPAT-13 (Annual Nikonians Photo Adventure Trip) in Arizona. Due to the Government shutdown, we were not able to visit many of the planned locations in the National Parks or National Forests. On the day I departed the Nikonians group, I was fortunate to travel through Grand Canyon National Park. The park was re-opened that day after the Governor of Arizona agreed to pay for basic operations until the Government shutdown was resolved. I then spent a couple of days in New Mexico, but unfortunately White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks were still closed. Guadalupe Mountain and Big Bend National Parks in Texas were also closed, so decided to hightail it back home (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey). Since returning home, I have been spending a lot of time going through my images, and upgrading the computer server and storage space for the images. In early December, I spent four days in Philadelphia attending workshops with Steve Simon (Nikon D4, D800, and the Passionate Photographer). In all I took nearly 300K images during the year, which is double the number I took in 2012. New photography equipment for 2013 included a Nikon Df camera body, a 58 mm f/1.4G lens, a 70-200 mm f/4 VR lens and two lenses for the Nikon 1 bodies – a 18.5 mm f/1.8 and 32 mm f/1.2 lens.

I really wanted to sign up for the Semester at Sea Spring 2014 round the world voyage but the stars were not aligned and I didn’t get my act together in time. The round the world Semester at Sea voyage will have to wait until 2016, since I have already committed to another trip to Patagonia with Thom Hogan in the spring of 2015. Other trips for 2014 include a Birding Photo Safari in Texas with Jason Odell and the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque with Winston Hall. I’ve not decided yet on either the Semester at Sea Spring 2014 Enrichment voyage (includes Iceland) and/or the Semester at Sea Summer 2014 voyage (Europe).

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)

11-February-2013

Gone to See Norway – Northern Light Chase – 2013

As the worm hole 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 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 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 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-lapsed 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.
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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 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 1000, 16 mm, f/2.8, 15 sec). (David J Mathre)

08-February-2013

Gone to See Norway – Northern Light Chase -2013

On our first night in Tromsø, a local photographer and her husband took us to a couple of locations to view northern lights. The first place, Telegrafbukta is not far (maybe 45 minutes walking) from the center of Tromsø along the fjord. I got a great image of the northern lights with a reflection in the water. I am not exactly sure what the walkway going into the cold water is for, unless they have a polar bear swimming club. This is obviously a favorite place for locals to view northern lights on a Friday night. There were at least a dozen just up the hill (you can see them in this first image). We then went to Kvaløya (Whale) Island for the 2nd image. The mountain on the right is lit up with a yellow color from sodium lights at the home near the water. It was a lot easier to photography the northern lights when on solid ground with a tripod. On the ship, even with a tripod you get the motion of the ship. I now have several time-lapsed sequences to put together once I get home.

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Northern Lights from Telegrafgukta in Tromsø. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 800, 24 mm, f/2, 8 sec).. (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights from Telegrafgukta in Tromsø. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 800, 24 mm, f/2, 8 sec).. (David J Mathre)

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Early Morning (00:02 AM) Northern Lights on Kvaløy Island near Tromsø. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 800, 24 mm, f/2, 8 sec).. (David J Mathre)
Early Morning (00:02 AM) Northern Lights on Kvaløy Island near Tromsø. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 800, 24 mm, f/2, 8 sec).. (David J Mathre)

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07-February-2013

Gone to See Norway – Northern Lights Chase -2013

After going in and warming up, I went out again early AM (just after midnight). One band went all the way from horizon to horizon over the top of the ship. I switched to a fisheye lens and went to deck 7 where I could get this image. I had all of my cold weather gear on, and it was still cold, especially since the ship was moving at 15 knots. At this point you could tell who the hard core photographers were, as we were the only ones still out on deck.
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Early Morning (00:24 AM) Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 6400, 16 mm, f/2.8, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)
Early Morning (00:24 AM) Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 16 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 6400, 16 mm, f/2.8, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)

06-February-2013

Gone to See Norway – Northern Lights Chase – 2013.

Just before midnight there were some faint norhtern lights. I had to increase the ISO to 6400 to get this image. You can clearly see some red in addition to the green color.
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Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 6400, 24 mm, f/2.8, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 6400, 24 mm, f/2.8, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)

05-February-2013

Gone to See Norway – Northern Lights Chase – 2013.

Last night the Hurtigruten M/V Nordkapp went to the narrow entrance of Trollfjord, and shined some lights to show the narrow passage and high walls. In the summer the Hurtigruten ships go into Trollfjord as part of the northbound voyage. In the winter they only go to the entrance due to avalanche danger. After the ship turned the lights off, I thought that I got an image with a glimmer of green from some low northern lights. The ship staff told me that it was just a reflection on a cloud from one of the fish farms. I went out again early in the morning and got an image that does show some faint northern light activity. Later in the evening, I got some more images showing some northern light activity. Several passengers asked why my camera was able to see the northern lights as bright green where they could barely see anything with their eyes, let alone with point and shoot cameras. The tour director on the ship was not yet making a ship wide announcement that northern lights were visible since he didn’t want folks to go away and say “is that all there is?”. Before beginning this trip I debated not taking a DSLR. Now I am glad that I did. These images were taken at ISO 1600, f/1.4, and 4 seconds. I didn’t have the tripod out with me so I held the camera body against my chest. You can see some camera motion in the stars, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be. For white balance, I used 3500 °K as a starting point since that is what I use when photographing star trails.

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Early Morning (04:22 AM) Glimmer of Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 1600, 24 mm, f/1.4, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)
Early Morning (04:22 AM) Glimmer of Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 1600, 24 mm, f/1.4, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)

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Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 1600, 24 mm, f/1.4, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights While Sailing North on the Hurtigruten MV Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 1600, 24 mm, f/1.4, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)