Aurora Borealis makin’ me crazy

Aurora Borealis night oneAaaaaaarggghhh! I am tearing my hair out on this one. Aurora Borealis. A combination of the Roman goddess of the dawn/sunrise and the Greek god of the wind, the name conjures sweeping colors, crackling cold, and the very soul of Odin looking down at you through the ages…and the experience delivers!


But the weird thing about the aurora, it’s the only incidence I can think of where the camera records it better than the human eye. Normally our eyes trumps the living bejeezus out of any equipment (really, they are amazing), but a camera’s ability to withhold perception for thirty seconds comes in handy with the aurora, slow, subtle, and faint as it often is.

 Aurora Borealis night one 2

So when we spent a few frigid nights watching muted colors caress the underbellies of the stars, and I looked down (with fully night-adjusted eyes) to see beautiful colors on my magic little view screen… I had high hopes.


So today, trying to get them to look the way they did when I was there….

aaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhhh! Why you no wanna werk wif me, stoopid image?

 Aurora Borealis night two

Blaming one’s equipment is a lame excuse at best, if not outright verboden, and I can already see at least one setting I should have changed. And if I was better at editing, I’m sure I could enhance these more effectively. But at the end of the day, it was damn fun to be out there, scrambling around in the dark, nabbing what I could. And I’ll take the learning experience.


We had pessimistic forecasts every day, “solid cloud cover and low aurora activity” the screens would declare, but for the first couple nights, and one towards the end, we had enough clarity and enough activity to marvel at the green glow of ionic mysticism.


Aurora Borealis night three 1The first night was crouching on the ice cubes piled up beside the lake in Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), where I, being a complete space cadet, had forgotten to bring my tripod, so rested my camera on the ground.


The second night was an improvement in equipment, my tripod splayed by the road back from Akranes, but the wind was being petulant, and even in the relative calm next to the car, a sharp image escaped me.

 Aurora Borealis night three 3

The last night was spent overlooking Jökulsarlon, the glacial lagoon that anchors my love of Iceland. I clambered down the gravel hillside and sat alone in the dark, listening to the crunch of icebergs, and the occasional splashes and air-blasts of seals close at hand in the darkness.


The images might not look as good as I’d hoped, but the memories are gorgeous.

Aurora Borealis night three 2