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Aurora Season Start

I was ready for the start of the aurora season. It was August 28 and the numbers in my aurora app looked promising. As I approached the spot I had chosen the sky was still not dark enough for any auroras to be seen, but in half an hour it would be.

But let’s go back a few hours. Choosing a location for aurora spotting is something I have always enjoyed. Studying maps and aerial photos is teasing my fantasy. I have found many beautiful locations just by spending time on online map service sites.

Comparison between map and aerial photo

Last spring discovered this place on the map and decided to pay it a visit. In Finland it’s legal to tread on other people's properties as long as you don’t disturb cottage owners. I knew I had to park my car where the road ended, which was very close to a cottage, and I did that in April when I paid a nightly visit to this extremely rocky coastline.

Now I decided to got there once again. But this time I knew the name of the cottage owner so I called them and told them what I was doing and asked if I could park there and even go across their lawn to get to the waterline. That way I could easily reach my chosen location. Last time I chose to force myself through a pitch black and very tight forest. I don’t want to do that again.

The owner gave permission and I hurried to make my hot chocolate (as always) and picnic food before leaving the house.

I arrived at 22:45 and crawled under the Roe Dear fences—almost getting stuck—to get to the waterline so I could make my way along the coastline to this spectacular place with lots of rocks everywhere on the beach and in the shallow water.

Sunset light over the sea horizon

I took my first photo on my way there. When arriving I continued to shoot and took a selfie with my electrical storm lantern, trying to capture a similar photo to one I took four months ago. This time, though, I could not put too much time into that single shot since I saw some signs of the Northern Lights already on the not yet quite dark northern sky.

Repeating the photo composition with me holding my lamp by the shoreline

I was thrilled! Seeing the aurora often includes a great deal of waiting time. Now I arrived just in time for the start of the show.

The night felt warm, although only 7°C. I had almost too much on me—at least for walking. But for sitting on a rock and enjoying the aurora show it was perfect. There was no wind at all and the sea did not make one single sound. Not even the tiniest wave. The water was like a mirror!

Northern lights starting phase

Aurora Borealis increasing in strength

The show started slowly. After 25 minutes the aurora was a little more active but not massive in any way. I decided to take a time-lapse movie which made my camera unavailable for photography for 20 minutes. Perfect time for a picnic.

Just as my time-lapse movie was finished, now at midnight, the Northern Lights became stronger and put on a beautiful show for about 15 minutes before fading into a diffuse green haze. It’s the typical end of a more active part of the aurora.

Northern lights reaching its climax over the sea horizon

Aurora end phase with blurry green lights

Milky Way and the light from a distant city

I stayed for another 45 minutes taking photos of the Milky Way and waiting for a second aurora show. It didn’t seem to happen so I headed back the same way I had come, except for not crawling under the fence this time but removing it to get through.

A second active aurora phase on the way home

On my way home I stopped a couple of times and took more photos. At my last stop the aurora was active again but clouds were coming in and I knew I had already captured the best part.

The next day I texted to the cottage owner and thanked her for letting me park on their property. She told me to take the easy way down to the water next time.

I will absolutely do so since this place is too awesome not to visit again. Don’t you agree?


Do you want to learn how to take photos of the northern lights? Iceland Air has a simple but useful guide on their website. But take my advice: if you are using a DSLR camera you should set your ISO to at least 1600 and not what they recommend.


This photo is now available as a print. Prices from $43.

Click the photo for more details!

Auroras over a rocky beach


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