Two nights back I saw a bit of Northern lights outside my house. Something inside me told me to go and hope for some nice display. Luckily I listened and I was treated with some amazing reflections at a lake near Oulunsalo, Finland.
With basically no wind, the reflections were near perfection.
Many people see some kind of shapes in aurora photos. For this photo some said it’s a crocodile, a dinosaur, even an alien when turning the photo. My favorite was the little dinosaur with the tail on the left and the very bright spot in the center of the image marking its back paws (legs?). Always great to hear what others see in those images!
Seeing these kind of wonderful auroras doesn’t just happen all the time. There is a lot of waiting involved. Often there are long periods of dark skies or very weak auroras just as in this photo. A faint arc with a little movement. At some nights this is all activity with only some short bits of brighter activity.
I want to illustrate how quickly the situation can change. This photo here was taken 120 seconds after the above. Notice how the arc became much brighter. Also needles become visible.
This is 20 seconds later and the arc is now very strong and inside it some twirls are visible. Much more needles appear especially on the right hand side. Look closely on the left side to see that the arc starts to ‘wobble’. A strong sign that there is more to come.
Looking another twenty seconds forward shows the needles start rising up high into the air with hints of other colors as well. The secondary display inside the strong one has become brighter, building a curtain of needles.
Here more needles rise up higher and higher and auroras start to fill most of the scene. Lot of movement going on. Taken another twenty seconds later. All these comparison photos had the same settings, ISO2500 and 4 seconds of exposure time.
These last five photos show how much things changed in just three minutes. Seeing active aurora displays are magical in every way and you never know exactly what will happen. Be ready, expect the unexpected!