The aurora chasing adventure through Lapland – 10 NIGHTS UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The Aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, are a mind-boggling natural phenomenon that virtually everyone talks about but never really gets to see it. As an astrophotographer, I have now seen and photographed lots of aurorae. However every time it’s a new excitement and a whole new experience as if I had never seen them. The lights change shapes, colors, speed or brightness and when you think you’ve seen it all, the ‘Lady Green’ proves you wrong. I traveled to the cold corners of Lapland (Sweden and Norway) on a ten-day aurora chasing adventure to shoot them but mostly to share their rare beauty in real-time. My goal was to show their different appearances in pristine skies and snow covered landscapes. In the mean time, I was eager to bring back my best real-time shots yet and give them back to the people that have never witnessed such a show and encourage them to go out or travel. For me though, it was merely one more astrophotography and personal life challenge I had to take on. I had never shot in such cold conditions, namely minus 35 degrees Celcius at the worst. Such cold temperatures helped me get some of the clearest night shots I had ever witnessed!
In the first episode of this trilogy, I start my journey in Abisko national park in Swedish Lapland. Abisko is a charming small town located next to a frozen lake and protected by the high mountains of the ‘Norwegian Alps’. There the cold is extreme, especially when the wind picks up on the lake. Nevertheless this rather flat landscape gives a stunning vista towards the north for the aurora. Locals say that if the weather is clear you can see them 9 out of 10 nights. They would start as bands above the mountains overlooking the lake due north and advance higher in the sky as the storm increases. Lady aurora sure did not disappoint there. I stayed in Abisko for 5 nights, and 5 nights she showed! Halfway through my journey, I was already happy with the shots I got, especially the time-lapse ones, and drove on the frozen roads of Sweden to reach Norway. I landed on Senja island, Norway’s second largest island that has it all: mountains, fjords, welcoming people, fish and the aurora! In this episode only my first night on the island is showcased, and it takes one half of the video! I drove to the fjord of Berg in the evening and searched for a nice spot to shoot from. The northern lights already started to pop out around 5:30 pm in the twilight and eventually exploded early around 6 pm, lighting up the whole fjord and the small fishing town, along with the snowy mountains in the area. What a spectacle! And the pinnacle: an overhead aurora (called a corona) showed twice! On my way home from the fjords at around 2 am, Lady aurora continued to give, so I shot some scenes along the picturesque road: look at how the lights started to dance and show their magenta colors behind that house! Really a magical moment, and this is just the beginning: https://vimeo.com/258417138
In the second episode of this trilogy called ‘the magic of the northern fjords’, I spent some time wandering about the scenic landscapes of the island of Senja. I met with Anders and Magnus Hanssen from the Northern lights Observatory in Senja to collaborate. They let me visit the observatory and take advantage of the great views there in exchange for some of my material and time to guide the guests, and also run the live stream. It was such an amazing adventure there and they were so welcoming! It’s one of the best places in the world to admire the aurora in an unbelievable area (www.auroraborealisobservatory.com/booking/ to book). You can even approach the reindeers and feed them under the northern lights! During my time close to the lukewarm shore (compared to minus 20 within the island), I was able to catch some unbelievable greens and purples but most importantly of all some jaw-dropping coronas: https://vimeo.com/258844779
In the third and final episode of the sequel, I have kept the best shots for then end hence the name ‘Apotheosis’. It was actually towards the end of my five-day stay that I got to witness the best aurorae. It was a real explosions of colors: greens, yellows, magentas, purples, blues…. If you hear some people say that you can never see the colors of the aurorae with the naked eye, tell them that they have never experienced a true show like these ones, and that they do exist! In the mean time, I urge you to do the same if you have never seen such a spectacle. The lights dance slowly and then rapidly across the sky showing off their colors: it is exactly like a dream. When the aurora intensifies, it starts flickering, rattling, and you can actually have the sensation that the electrons are colliding hard with the Earth’s atmosphere to produce a very powerful light that has the ability to create shadows!
I shot the different scenes around the island and also at the Northern lights Observatory. It was such a nice way to end this trip of a lifetime! I got unbelievably lucky with the weather and the aurora. I was truly able to get a taste and also capture what the life in the Arctic Lapland really is like The aurora chasing adventure: https://vimeo.com/259126775