Aurora chasing road trip – part 2

About two weeks I went on a road trip to find clear but aurora-filled skies. How the drive up there went and the night waiting for auroras, you can read in part 1.

Part 2 will not be about writing but more about the photos on the way back. So this is more of a photo blog entry.

I took my sweet time and stopped several times to capture some sceneries. Enjoy the ride-along 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

When I opened the curtains of my cottage around 10am, this is what I saw, it was breathtaking! Amazing mist over the frozen river Muonio and magical colors in the sky.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

The river Muonionjoki here serves as the border between Finland (left) and Sweden (right). I took this photo on the connecting bridge. Not sure in which country I was at this moment..

Copyright: Thomas Kast

On my way to Kolari, a crisp -25C (-13F) outside. This is how the well-plowed roads usually look.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

At one point I drove into a small forest road and took some sunrise / sunset photos. Taken at 12.20 pm. I’d love to drive through the wilderness with a snow mobile.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Another photo of the oncoming ‘traffic’ 🙂 While with cars you usually know where they go, reindeers are totally unpredictable. In my opinion their actions have no logic at all 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Beginning of the blue hour, on the right are some clouds colored by the sunset. After this stop it didn’t take long until I reached a full cloud cover followed by a snow storm all the way back home.

Surrounded by Northern lights

Surrounded by Northern lights

Northern lights filled the sky in a night on March 2013 near Yli-Ii, Finland.

Aurora chasing road trip – part 1

On 9 Jan 2014, I went on a spontaneous road trip in hope to find clear skies and see crazy auroras up there. When I saw a day earlier the aurora forecast, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen such high numbers! The weather forecast in Oulu was terrible, clouds, clouds and more clouds. So if I wanted to see anything I had to drive a long way into Lapland. I was struggling with the decision. Driving 410km there was one thing. Spending almost all night out in the cold and then drive all the way back was another one. In the end I said to myself “Go for it”. I suppose the fact that I had not seen auroras for almost a month did ‘help’. Thanks to my colleagues and boss, I was able to take off 1,5 days and also my wife knew I just had to do this.

The next day, I started to drive around 2pm and a few hours later it was already dark. After reeling off 300km I still didn’t see any sign of clear skies. Suddenly I was worried that my long drive wouldn’t pay off. Closer to Muonio I looked outside and saw the prettiest thing in the sky, a star! I stopped the car and all the clouds were gone. Quickly I hopped back into the car and drove to a cabin I booked earlier. There, I just changed into two sets of thermal underwear, thick trousers and a warm winter jacket.

I didn’t wanna waste any time, so I left right away, searching for a good spot. While searching I came across a stream, not frozen. The bright moonlight lit up the snow around it and I just had to take some photos. The scenery was so nice, I quite much forgot about the Northern lights. Once I was ready to continue I saw some familiar light rising up behind the trees. Aurora time! And I was in the perfect spot, the perfect setup I had in my mind about for nearly two years. Believe it or not, such a scenery with auroras was in my mind for that long time and this was the first time all pieces came together.

Well, to keep it short, I was and I still am extremely happy 🙂

After this, I made my way to a frozen lake and found a snow mobile track to a cabin on the other side. 15m in all was fine, then suddenly the ice was cracking somewhere close. Too close.. I quickly backed off a few steps and all seemed fine. Once my camera was set up the wait began. No auroras at the skies, -20C and quite strong wind wasn’t the coziest of my experiences.

At some point, Northern lights started to dance on the horizon and started a time-lapse sequence in hope to catch something crazy. Unfortunately it lasted only for a few minutes, then the next wait began.

Being there for more than four hours, the cold started to creep into my multilayered clothing. Hot tea didn’t help much and my mind drifted off to the warm cabin. Ninety minutes later I packed up my gear and gave up. The big show didn’t happen and I was just too cold. Around 4am I was back at the cabin, thankful for the warmth and reluctant to even look outside. But once you are hooked to auroras, it won’t let you just go to sleep. I kept watch for another hour with nothing happening in the skies. Finally I turned in and apparently fell asleep…. to be continued 🙂

The long wiat


My camera and me waiting for auroras

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Frozen lake, a cabin on the far side with a snow-covered fell.

As usually, visit my webpage for more photos. You’ll also find some of my time-lapse videos, tour offers and a webshop for prints and canvas.

The long wait

The long wait

A running stream in a cold winter’s night. A forest is lined up along the water, snow covered rocks are in the water and gentle auroras rise up behind trees. Since nearly two years I imagined this set up and last week finally all pieces came together!

Peeking treetops

Peeking treetops

After spending the night waiting for auroras in Lapland last week, I was treated with this stunning view. Morning mist over the Muonio river hid most of the trees and the clear weather allowed me to see the magic colors of the arctic sky. A perfect morning. Captured at 11.05am