Six-Years Ago (07-February-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013. Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 10: Southbound Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage.

On the second day of the southbound Hurtigruten voyage, the MS Nordkapp stoped in eight ports: Mehamn (01:00-01:15); Kjøllefjord (03:15-03:30); Honningsvåg (06:00-06:15); Havøsund (08:15-08:30); Hammerfest (11:15-12:45); Øksfjord (15:30-15:45); Skjervøy (19:00-19:45); and Tromsø (23:45-01:30).

After going in and warming up, I went out on deck again early morning hours (just after midnight). One band of the green lights 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 (notice the big dipper). 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.

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)

At the end of the day, I disembarked from the MS Nordkapp in Tromsø. I met up with a photographer friend from France (we both were on a photography trip with Thom Hogan in Patagonia in 2010/2011), and spent the next week in and around Tromsø “Chasing the Northern Lights”.

Six-Years Ago (06-February-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 9: Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp Norwegian Coastal Voyage Northbound (Båtsfjord to Kirkenes) then Southbound (Kirkenes to Berlevåg).

On the seventh and final day of the northbound Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyage, the MS Nordkapp stops in four ports: Båtsfjord (00:30-01:00); Vardø (04:00-04:15); Vadsø (07:30-08:00); and Kirkenes (09:45-12:45). After spending 3 hours in Kirkenes, the ship turns around and begins the southbound voyage stopping at three ports: Vardø (16:00-17:00); Båtsfjord (20:00-20:30); and Berlevåg (22:15-22:30).

During the stop in Kirkenes, I took the bus tour which includes a stop at the Russian border.

alt_title. (David J Mathre)
Bus Tour of Kirkenes and the Russian Border. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10 mm f/2.8 lens. (David J Mathre)



Just before midnight there were some faint northern 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.

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 MS Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon D800 camera and 24 mm f/1.4G lens (ISO 6400, 24 mm, f/2.8, 4 sec). (David J Mathre)

Six-Years Ago (05-February-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013. Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 8: Northbound Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage.

On the sixth day of the northbound Hurtigruten coastal voyage, the MS Nordkapp stopped in seven ports: Øksfjord (02:00-02:15); Hammerfest (05:15-06:45); Havøsund (09:30-09:45); Honningsvåg (11:45-15:15); Kjøllefjord (17:30-17:45); Mehamn (19:30-20:00); and Berlevåg (22:30-22:45).

On the previous night, the ship went to the narrow entrance of Trollfjord and shined high-powered spot 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.

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

Six-Years Ago (04-February-2013) — Norway

Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 7: Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp Norwegian Coastal Voyage Northbound (Stokmarkenes to Skjervøy).

Years after taking this picture, I noticed Santa in the 2nd floor window. Finnsnes must be his R&R hideout after Christmas.

alt_title. (David J Mathre)
Finnsnes, Norway. Image taken with a Nikon D800 camera and 180 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 100, 180 mm, f/4, 1/100 sec). (David J Mathre)
alt_title. (David J Mathre)
Santa caught hiding in Finnsnes, Norway after Christmas. Image taken with a Nikon D800 camera and 180 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 100, 180 mm, f/4, 1/100 sec). (David J Mathre)

It didn’t look like Santa was there six years earlier.

alt_title. (David J Mathre)
Finnsnes, Norway. Winter View of Finnsnes Norway from the M/V Kong Harald. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 35 mm f/2 lens (ISO 200, 35 mm, f/2, 1/60 sec) (David J Mathre)

Six-Years Ago (03-February-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 6: Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp Norwegian Coastal Voyage Northbound (Brønnøysund to Svolvær).

On the third full day of the northbound Hurtigruten voyage, the ship stopped in seven ports: Brønnøysund (00:30-01:00); Sandnessjøen (03:45-04:15); Nesna (05:25-05:30); Ørnes (09:00-09:30); Bodø (12:30-15:00); Stamsund (19:00-19:30); and Svolvær (21:00-22:00).

Early morning short stop in Sandnessjøen. Image taken with a Leica X2 camera. (David J Mathre)
Early morning short stop in Sandnessjøen. Image taken with a Leica X2 camera. (David J Mathre)


The ship crossed the Arctic Circle at 07:20, while it was still dark out. Champagne was served for those up early enough. Baptism for those that were crossing the Arctic Circle for the first time would be celebrated later in the afternoon. At this time of the year, and this far north dawn lasts a long time. The panorama view at dawn shows the unique pink color of the Belt of Venus and blue Earth Shadow below. Conditions have to be right to see these colors.


Arctic Dawn. Composite of 7 images taken with a Leica X2 camera (ISO 200, 24 mm, f/4, 1/60 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and AutoPano Giga Pro. (David J Mathre)
Arctic Dawn. Composite of 7 images taken with a Leica X2 camera (ISO 200, 24 mm, f/4, 1/60 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and AutoPano Giga Pro. (David J Mathre)


While in Bodø I took the bus tour — the city and out to the Saltstraumen. When conditions are right this has one of the worlds strongest tidal currents causing whirlpools or maelstroms. We weren’t there at the right time, and the weather was deteriorating. The bus driver wanted to make sure we got back to the ship before it left. Watch the time-lapse video, a scary ride in a snowstorm.