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How to Find Paradise

The title of this blog post might sound weird but, although I'm a believer in God, this is not a religious post. I happened to find another type of paradise.

Northern Lights above houses in a small town
The aurora on August 8 2022.

The northern lights season started super early this time. I saw my first aurora already on August 8 which is a personal record. In late August I spent a night under the stars at one of my favourite places. I knew the northern lights would not be active so I just enjoyed spending the evening by the camp fire and I went to hammock early.

The next morning I took a walk along the coastline and discovered several awesome places that would be suitable for aurora photography. That kind of research is important for several reasons:

  1. You find places in daylight that you would miss if you explore new areas in darkness.

  2. You can plan your aurora photography safari much more thoroughly when you know where you're going. Finding parking places, talking to land owners and things like that is always good.

  3. Safety. If you do the research it during the daytime you will know where you can walk safely and where it's dangerous.

With this local research done I had really good chances of capturing some awesome photos when it was time to head out the next time.

This part of the coastline is fairly close to where I live, but I would probably not go there if the lights are active already when I step outside my door. I would not waste the driving time but rather go to a place more close by.

However, this evening I got out early (10 PM, that is) and there was no trace of the aurora yet. But I knew it would probably light up at some point.

Now here's a confession. I sometimes feel a little scared when it's dark and I'm totally alone. I don't turn back because I'm determined to conquer the fear. I have nothing to be scared of, really. But it's interesting that darkness has this effect on you. Just because you don't see much longer than your headlight can reach you start thinking about what's around you that you can't see.

I have several times asked a hunter that I know if I have any reason at all to be scared of wolves or bears. No is always his answer. And I have no reason not to believe him.

Northern Lights and a meteor
I saw a couple of shooting stars. But I had many in my photos that I discovered when editing them.

This particular night I felt that feeling once again. But as I left my car by a summer cottage that was closed for the season and walked right towards the sound of the sea (I couldn't see the waterline until I was close to it) I soon forgot about my fear and concentrated on getting to my chosen photography place. The rocks were partly rough and I walked as carefully as I could. You don't want to fall and get injured when you are alone in the dark night.

The aurora was still only faint but the indexes in my aurora app looked good so I knew there were potential. I reached this lovely pool on the cliffs and started taking photos when suddenly the aurora became stronger, bigger and more colourful with vertical lines and a bending arch. Just the way I had hope for. Maybe not super spectacular but still very beautiful.

Northern lights over Finnish west coast
Before I put my storm lamp out.

Northern Lights and rocks by a dark beach
The aurora was quite big but not super bright. The camera captured more colours than the eye, as often is the case.

Aurora time means working time for me. And I hurried to capture the aurora with as many different foregrounds as possible. The show was on for 25 minutes before fading. I relocated and eventually went home. My alarm clock said 2:30 AM as I laid my head on my pillow, only 4,5 hours before I would have to wake up. But that's alright. One night every now and then is ok to make a little shorter.

Now to the title. The next day I asked people in a local Facebook group about the correct name of the place where I took my photos. One of the cottage owners said she loved my photo because it was taken on their property, or, as she called it, ”my paradise”. She said she had taken photos of many sunsets there but my picture was something extra.

“How Did You Find Our Secret Paradise?”

I call the photo above The Secret Paradise for three reasons. It's the cottage owner's private paradise, it's my carefully chosen photo location (and I will not reveal exactly where it is) and the aurora show I captured is something the cottage owner had never seen there before. It came secretly and faded quickly.

Beach with northern lights
Close to where I had parked was a beautiful little beach with rocks on both sides and a boat lying on the sand. I put my storm lamp on the sand to light up the waves while taking this photo.


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