Aurora Hunting in Norway, Trip Report – Day Three

5D mk3, 24-70mm f2.8 lens, ISO 100, 2.0 sec at f11

The weather today has deteriorated considerably. The temperature has risen a few degrees and it has rained, sleeted and snowed. The wind is stronger and now, at 15:30 in the afternoon as I type this back at our hotel it is dark outside and the wind is howling. The cloud base is very low, there is no way we are going to see the aurora tonight. However, even if the skies were clear, the auroral activity is very low indeed so we might not see it even then. I have a feeling we may have to make a long drive inland to Finland or Sweden over the weekend in search of better weather in order to get a better chance of seeing the ‘Northern Lights’.

So, thats the bad news out of the way. Have we let this put us off? No we haven’t. In conditions like this, it is fairly pointless trying to shoot wide landscapes. However, what the light is perfect for is detail work. With this in mind we headed off intrepidly after breakfast in search of texture and detail. After an hour of driving we found it in a cluster of very old Nordic fishing huts on the shore of a bay facing north into the arctic ocean.

These roughly made wooden huts have been scoured for generations by salt winds, snow and ice and bleached by the sun. Exposed to the wind and rain the layers of paint and rich, deep colours in the wood were extraordinary in todays overcast light. Bedding our tripods in the group spent a happy couple of hours filling memory cards with images full of texture and details.

I made some images with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and more with the 5D mk3. I have shown one from both cameras of the same subject here for comparison. Particularly as the Fuji image is handheld at ISO3200 whereas the Canon images were made on a tripod at ISO100 – interesting to see what you think. I know its not easy to see the differences on a web page, but it makes for an interesting comparison.

I find doing this type of image (which is a favourite style of mine) that I like to get the camera very parallel to the subject surface. I like a flat, rather than three dimensional composition. I also prefer compositions which exclude the sky. I prefer to get close to the shed walls and fill the frame with detail. I work at f8 to f11 in most cases to make sure I get good detail and sharpness. Good focus and tripod technique is essential (especially as we had a blustery wind to contend with).

The Fuji image here is a jpeg straight out of camera using the Astia pre-set. The Canon images are raw files which have had some basic processing done in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Fuji X-Pro 1 image using 18-55mm lens, ISO3200, handheld at f5.6 and 1/40 sec

Canon 5D mk3 image, tripod, 24-70mm f2.8L lens, ISO100, f16 for 3.2 secs

From this location we headed to another which was a partially frozen river in the mountains with small waterfalls, ice edging the flow, with beautiful rocks and lovely silver birches in the snow.

Because of just how short our days are now here, by this time it was getting dark and we headed home in driving sleet and snow to the hotel. Tonight after our meal plans need to be made for the weekend – the aurora needs to be found!

Canon 5D mk3, 24-70mm L f2.8 Lens, ISO100, 6.0 secs at f16

2 comments on “Aurora Hunting in Norway, Trip Report – Day Three

  1. Elaine Feast on

    Following your trip with interest and sympathy re the weather. As far as the 2 pics of the wooden huts are concerned, I think the colours in the 2nd photo are richer – the one taken with the Fuji seem to have more contrast and as a result has lost the richness in colour.
    Looking forward to next instalment !!

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