If you just turn on the TV and watch the news it is increasingly difficult to be happy. Everything looks gray, black and bloody. Maybe that’s why I do not have a TV set anymore. I am convinced,
however, that it is still possible to dream and to do it with eyes wide open. My job and my thirst for discovery lead me to travel a lot, more than 250 days a year. Some say that I can not stay calm, others would like to do the same but can not, finally the last ones envy me but do not move from home. Without exception, I share my images with all of them, both those gleaned a few kilometers away from home and those captured at the antipodes.
I must say that I feel at home everywhere. However, besides my native region, Alsace in France, where I like to regularly go back, there is a place that is particularly dear to me. First of all because I found love there. But this is none of your business 🙂 Then, because there one can observe one of the most extraordinary shows on this planet: the aurora borealis, also called northern lights. For thousands of years, human beings have been observing this phenomenon. If it once generated fear and anguish, if it was associated with a mythology of monsters and vengeful gods, nowadays, it is admiration and wonder that come when the sky decides to play the most beautiful ballet.
Guestblogger Nicholas Messner from Alsace, France
Images of green lights haunted my childhood dreams. And I can now dream with my eyes open, lying on the snow of a frozen lake, the head, literally and figuratively, in the stars. The recipe is quite simple, the result not necessarily guaranteed, but it is also what makes the magic. Take a cloudless night, open on the firmament, add a good dose of darkness, flee the lights of the city as much as possible and above all be patient. Oh, I forgot, let it simmer north of the Arctic Circle. Finally, cooking being slow, get well and warmly dressed. Ican guarantee you that if you are lucky and have respected the recipe you will not believe your eyes. Be careful not to lose your mind at the first appearance! The risk is real. Pay attention and you may hear other anonymous viewers shouting in the darkness ‘Woooaaaahoooo’ and ‘hurrayaaaaa’.
The place I chose to be in the front row is Tromsø, 70° North, at the gateway to the Arctic, in northern Norway. It is relatively easy to reach the place as several companies serve the city’s small airport (SAS, Norwegian, Wideroe). If over there my own accommodation is guaranteed, you can find without difficulty number of hotels and guesthouses (online booking is easy and there are numerous tour operators present in Tromsø). With 70,000 inhabitants, Tromsø is ready to accommodate those who want to try to capture the lady in green and especially the city is located on one of the privileged passages of the amazing disheveled.
If your nights are dedicated to the auroras, you can also enjoy the charms of the city during the day, by shopping, and perhaps go whale watching, dog sledding and many other activities, which are taking place in the middle of the wild northern nature and in the polar world. To multiply my chances of observing the northern lights and being a little less poetic, I use several smartphone applications (Aurora Forecast, Aurora Fcst, Aurora Pro) that allow you to concretely prepare yourself for the show.
For your information, the intensity of the aurora is graduated on a scale of 0 to 9 (Kp index) and from an index of 2 already, I was able to observe the phenomenon. If you want to take pictures, and I’m sure it will be the case, take a tripod. This is essential. Experiment different settings, combining exposure and aperture, without increasing the sensitivity too much (you would take the risk of raising the grain in the image) to find the best compromise. In general, I try to shoot around 200 to 400 ISO, between 10 and 30 seconds, with an aperture of f4.5 to f8.0. And It is not impossible that your camera will see things that yourself will not imagine.
If you really have the chance and the opportunity to go to the Great North; if you love nature and are sensitive to its vibrations; if you are not afraid of the harsh climates … then I promise you that you will not be disappointed with the trip. Plan at least a week in the area to maximize your chances of observation. Last little detail, but not least: be humble. Mother Nature is queen, she decides. There is no point in pestering if you can not observe the northern lights, you just have to plan to come back. Du kan se mer av Nicolay Messner på Instagram, Facebook og Hjemmesiden hans.