by Eros Tang

Following lasts year’s successful northern lights trip I had planned a follow-up trip for March 2024, however the weather in Arctic Norway had other ideas and there wasn’t a good weather window until the beginning of April. So I left a little later than I wanted as the nights would be shorter and darkness would not reach astronomical darkness at far northern latitudes.

After weeks of rain and perpetual grey in Edinburgh it was uplifting to see clear blue skies upon my arrival at Oslo. I was even happier to see the cinnamon buns (or known as Kanelboller) freshly made at the airport.

After a brief bun stop I was back on the plane and after 2 hours of stunning overhead views of the fjords I arrived in Tromsø to clear blue skies and a temperature of -5°C.

The next day our trip was not scheduled to leave until 8.30pm so had plenty of time to get ready. The temperature dropped from -5 to -10 so I kept spare camera batteries inside my coat pocket to keep them warm. Our guide informed us our destination was a small island to the west called Sommarøy, just over an hours drive from Tromsø. It’s a place I’m particularly fond of as it was there I first saw the Northern Lights so was more than happy to revisit many years later. When we arrived I could immediately see the aurora shimmering overhead. My camera was setup and ready to go but I needed to check the focus. Coming up to 10pm few stars were visible in the camera’s live view but I managed find some, after magnifying the views and manually focusing. I taped down the focus ring so it wouldn’t drift during the night.

To begin with I fired off a few shots at ISO 3200, f2.0 with 2 second exposures and I could see the aurora was bright on the image. The aurora was now quite active and changing quickly so at two seconds the images were slightly blurry. I tried 1 second and even ½ second exposures which resulted a clearer view though slightly underexposed.

Click on an image for the full size version:

As it was moving quickly I decided to try and capture a video of it, something I’ve never tried before so wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’ve shot a few timelapses of the aurora before but only a video recording gets close to capturing the actual movement.

Throughout the night the aurora was very active. Sometimes I would focus on one area of the sky only to see another part of the sky flare up behind me so I had to be constantly on my toes scanning different parts the sky. At one point in the night the whole sky appeared to be shimmering with activity! At times like those it’s important to put the camera down, savour the moment and marvel at nature’s greatest lightshow.

Needless to say it was cold standing out in subzero temperatures for over 4 hours but when it’s done underneath the northern lights in its ever changing glory it was worth it. During the night I took nearly 2,000 images some of which I’ve put together as a timelapse video.