Archive for March, 2012

Spring Auroras

Last night the aurora was out again – and I was keen to get some photos. The midnight sun is creeping up on us, and soon it will be too light to see the northern lights – so better make the most of it now! The aurora wasn’t that bright last night, and had to compete with the brightening moon too. At Sydspissen (the south tip of Tromsø island) I found this nice boat house, and now there was finally enough moon light to include it in the photo. The sky wasn’t as bright as I was hoping, there were some high clouds – but that did result in a pretty (partial) moon halo!

Aurora seen from Sydspissen A bright arch above the boat house

Aurora shining straight through the moon ;) Aurora and partial moon halo

Aurora Reflections

We had a very clear night yesterday, and I was keen to get some aurora pictures. I went to Sydspissen, the south tip of Tromsø island. It’s a very calm and sheltered place, and last night there was no wind at all. The water of the fjord was like a mirror, and the reflections were fantastic :) Such a magic night!

Aurora seen from Sydspissen A first arch gets brighter

And here we go, a fantastic show started! Getting brighter... on the right a plane on its way to land at Tromsø airport

It was such a calm night, the reflections were really impressive So pretty!

If you look carefully, you can even see the rocks at the bottom of the fjord Swirling aurora

I love the wriggly reflection of the plane!

I’ve finally gotten around to using lightroom to edit the raw images instead of the jpg’s – really impressed how much difference it makes! And now I have to run, I have a workshop in drop-photography tonight. Very excited, hope to share some results soon :)

Aurora hunting

The northern lights were very active this week, and last Wednesday I decided to go aurora hunting with my colleague Gunnar. It was the last day with nice weather, and a front (with clouds) was moving in from the southwest. We decided to drive northeast and hope we could beat the clouds – when we left it was already overcast in Tromsø. Just after passing Ramfjorden, the skies were clearing and suddenly aurora was dancing all over the sky. We found a place to stop and quickly got our tripods out…

Dancing aurora, on the left you can see the pink band that is usually visible when the aurora moves very fast Swirling aurora and a full moon

It was a pretty place, and the moonlight was brightening up the landscape nicely. We were right next to the road however, and every now and then passing cars would put their full beams on, spoiling our photos ;) The clouds were also catching up, so after about 15 minutes we decided to move on and find a better place to take photos.

Aurora over Lavangstinden Gunnar and the two bridges: one on the land, and one in the sky :)

We drove to Lakselvdalen, a beautiful valley surrounded by impressive mountains. It was the perfect foreground for aurora pictures, and there was no traffic at all, so we just stopped and stood in the middle of the road to take photos. We hardly managed to get one good picture though, as suddenly the aurora disappeared. We waited for a while, but it didn’t come back.

Aurora over Lakselvdalen, just before it disappeared and never came back

We drove on, and stopped at the end of the valley, where were hoping to have a good view over the fjord. We had to pass a house, and dogs started barking and people yelling… but they turned out to be very friendly and chatty, and they let us pass through their land to get to the shore. They even asked if we wanted the little cabin by the water heated so we could sit in comfort :D

It was a pretty place, and I can only imagine how nice it is to use the hot tub while watching the aurora… but the aurora itself did not come back. We took some photos of the Lyngen Alps across the fjord before calling it a night.

The cabin is a heated changing room for the hot tub (on the right, covered with blue tarpaulin) - how nice!! View towards the Lyngen Alps

It was a nice trip, even if the aurora didn’t cooperate as much as we hoped :) A day later, I was on the night shift and saw the most incredible aurora at 4 in the morning. It was all over the sky and moved around very fast, I had never seen it quite like that. Pity I couldn’t take any photos. Since that night, it’s been way too cloudy to see anything, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon…

Ti på Topp 2012: Kjølen

This year, Ti på Topp has started earlier than usual and includes 5 winter tops. I had a day off last Tuesday, and the weather was still really nice, so I decided to challenge myself and go up Kjølen (790 m). It’s one of the most prominent mountains near Tromsø (it also has the flight radar on top), but I had never been there. I’d read that there was very little snow in places and decided to go up on snowshoes as you’re more flexible that way. I started from Finnvikvatnet in glorious sunshine :) I only took our new fisheye lens with me, as I wanted to get more familiar with it.

Finnvikvatnet, the frozen lake where I started my trip. Enough tracks to follow :) Pretty clouds!

There were a couple of other people with the same idea, most of them on fjellski’s, but also a woman who just went on foot. The ascent is quite gradual and the views are really nice. I saw quite a lot of reindeer on the way, but with the fisheye lens it’s impossible to get a photo of them – you’ll never get close enough :D

At some parts the snow had blown away and was quite icy. But unlike the 2 skiers in front of me, I didn't have to worry about scratching my skis on rocks ;) Self portrait on the way up. It was warm enough to go without hat, gloves or jacket. I even got slightly sunburnt :)

There was hardly any wind that day, but Kjølen is notoriously windblown. Especially near the top, I found all kinds of wind-sculpted snow ridges (sastrugi). They are so delicate and pretty :)

Sastrugi near the top

Another proof of how extreme the weather gets up there: all the poles had a huge slab of ice hanging from them. The second photo is taken on the top, there are 2 masts there and this is one of the lines securing them.

Impressive slabs of ice on the poles near the top And even more ice on the lines securing one of the masts

The dominating feature on the top is the flight radar. Nice to finally see it from up close! The other building is the “Varmebua” that DNT built here a couple of years ago. It’s not meant to spend the night, it’s just a small hut with a table and chairs and FLOOR HEATING. How luxury! On this sunny day, I didn’t feel like sitting inside though. I had lunch on a bench outside the radar, enjoying the view and soaking up the sunshine. I had the top all to myself, all the others were already on the way down.

The small DNT cabin in the foreground, the huge flight radar in the background The same buildings seen from the back, clearly this is where all the blowing snow ends up!

After an hour on the top, I started making my way down as well. I took some detours to look at interesting snow features…

A big block of snow broke off from the top and tumbled down An overhanging 'wave' of snow

The shadow of the setting sun caught me up on the way down, but the view of the last sunlight on the surrounding mountains was beautiful!

The last sunlight on the mountains in the distance. The rising moon was beautiful, but with the fisheye lens it's hardly visible

What a fun day! I really enjoyed myself. Below you can see my route and the height profile. It took me about 3 hours to reach the top (but this includes many photo and snack stops :) ) and about 1.5 hour to come down.

My route up Kjølen The height profile

Two days later, the nice weather came to an end. This weekend it’s windy, snowy, at times even rainy. A great weekend for updating my blog :)