Day 4: On this, the shortest day, the heavy weather shifted to the west and the skies to the north became less threatening:
In the morning, two hours behind schedule, Finnmarken sounded three long blasts on the ships horn as she eased into the Arctic Circle at 66°34′. A few miles on, she broke the silence again as a sister ship headed south into the light and we headed further north into the dark. In this part of the world, the winter solstice was actually timed at 12:03 am on 22nd December i.e. when the Sun was exactly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn.
It was no coincidence that I was reading George Mackay Brown’s A Time to Keep – short stories set in the Orkneys, they describe a culture that had strong parallels with remote Norwegian fishing communities. The Orkney bars were populated with the crews of Norwegian whalers and the older stories speak of Viking raiders.
The tale of Check Harra, a man who could not resist gambling with the fifty two cards, contains this short passage which describes his time living among the Indians of North America:
He was lord of an area as big as Britain, a white wilderness with here and there a reindeer herd on the move and at night the splendour of the Merry Dancers, swathes of heavy yellow silk swirling and rustling in the Arctic sky.
That night the Merry Dancers were wearing green:
The images were taken with a hand-held Fuji X100s pushed to ISO 25600 – better results could be achieved at lower ISO settings and a longer exposure on a tripod but, not from a moving ship – the stars streak (and don’t forget to remove the UV filter). There will be more to come.
Many thanks, much appreciated 🙂
Absolutely stunning! Great job with the Northern Lights 🙂 Really like the silhouettes of the mountains!
Many thanks Sarah – something of a technical challenge – at ISO 25600 the camera sees much more than the human eye. These have actually been darkened – in the originals you can see the snow on the mountains + a lot of ‘noise’ that you don’t want to see.
That’s the big problem with those sort of ISO’s! I often have to use 3200 for music photography and you just lose so much facial detail to the noise. Respect for getting those shots!
The Fuji X100s sensor is particulary good which helps 🙂
The Sony sensors are amazing! I’d love to have the new a7s. The Fuji X series are quite similar and very pretty looking too 🙂
Many thanks, nature can be remarkable.
Great image, love the red and blue.
Many thanks, glad you like it 🙂
Glad you got to see the northern lights (and read a bit of GMB).
Many thanks, it made everything worthwhile – GMB makes for a grand travelling companion in the north. I also had time to read Beside the Ocean of Time – a classic.
Thanks Cate – it made all the travelling worthwhile – even the cattle market that is Heathrow’s Terminal 5 🙂
completely captivated by this piece.
Many thanks, so glad you liked it
Hooray for the lights! But that first image is my favourite 🙂
Mine too Jo – the pictures of the lights were more of a technical challenge than an artistic exercise. There is no substitute for seeing the real thing.
Gorgeous – all of them, especially, the lights…ahhh… 🙂
Many thanks, much appreciated 🙂
Truly magnificent. I have the feeling that this was a profound voyage for you.
Exactly right Julie and that day in particular. It had the sense of everything Kathleen Jamie describes in Darkness and Light (Findings) – “We cheered the beans and drank a toast, because tonight was mid-winter’s night, the night of the complicit kiss and tomorrow the light would begin its return”. A never to be forgotten short day and long night.
Many thanks, much appreciated
You are too kind – hope you continue to enjoy the ride 🙂
Can’t see why I shan’t …
I have one word; Wow!!!
Thanks so much Malin ❤
Such marvelous images. The first one captures the expanse of the sky — and the two types of weather.
Many thanks Cindi – I am extremely envious of you living there!
Wow, wonderful pictures.
Many thanks Andrea.
wonderful post, those beautiful images swirled up with some myth and magical words. I hadnt thought about the challenge of shooting long exposures on a moving ship. But beautiful images none the less. What a great adventure!
Many thanks – It is everything you could hope for – you would love it.
Many thanks – it is an awesome place.
I probably more than most understand your comments regarding capturing the Aurora from a moving ship – how frustrated were we. I did get a few in Tromso whilst docked which were okay – but I would fly back in to Tromso again and hire a car – you have really captured the trip beautifully with some magical light – I felt we were limited to 2D images with the sea always being the foreground.
Many thanks, much appreciated – I have seen your Instagram auroras at Tromso and they are excellent – as they should be rather than my over-pushed grainy efforts. Good excuse to go back and try again though 🙂 A friend suggests flying into Sweden and hiring a car from there – much cheaper supposedly but I haven’t checked yet.