A dream came true: The Magical Aurora Borealis

in #travelfeed3 years ago

Hi everyone!

I am sharing today a story about my first rendezvous with the magical Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis.
Let's start with my most iconic photo from this planned photographic journey:


The story, shortly:

  • Dreaming for three years
  • Polar Circle and freezing cold
  • A month of preparation
  • 6 flights
  • 1000 kilometers in northern Norway and Finland
  • 5 hours sleep and 19 hours chase, every day
  • Cheers with 10 years old Bulgarian brandy in the snowy Norwegian nights
  • A small fishing village with former school - inn for hungry souls
  • 9 photographers and 9 catches of the Aurora Borealis

Photographic expedition "Northern Lights" - My Travel Story

Have you been discussing dreams and wishes with your close friends, only to find out that they are mutually shared? That's right, a few years ago, at a photo soiree, talking with friends we found out that we have a common dream - to see and capture the magic of the Northern Lights...

The idea needed some time to mature and liiiittle more for good planning, organization and execution. On our way to accomplish the objective, which started to become more and more clear it appeared we attracted more and more people who love traveling and photography and with every new journey they want to develop their photographic skills and they do it.

We researched and chose the place - North Norway, the town of Tromsø. Near the Arctic Circle so we have a better chance to "catch" the Lights, and to enjoy the incredible beauty of Norway, in which afterwards I fell in love.

There was a lot of preparation - both in photographic aspects, and in terms of our travel gear - we all had to be ready for a long stay, outdoors in the freezing polar nights. A few weeks before our departure we had a meeting, over few drinks, of course ;), in which we discussed in detail these two aspects and shared experience and useful information.

There was some shopping involved as well. Clothing and accessories, cards and extra batteries, which are obligatory for prolonged shooting in the cold. Shortly after that we did a field, or more precisely speaking, an alpine test of our photo and travel gear by shooting stars and clouds during one of the few cold, windy and relatively clear nights at Vitosha Mountain in the early February, around midnight.

So, counting each of the remaining days, quite imperceptibly has come the so long awaited Saturday, February 13, when we flew to Copenhagen as an intermediate point of our journey. We only had time for a short, introductory-type stroll in the city, which we mainly spent in and on top of the Round Tower - an astronomical observatory. The views from the old building, which was constructed in a way so a horse-driven chariot could get to its top, were simply unique.




Then, again, we went back to night mode and once equipped appropriately, we tried for the remaining short time to capture part of the night outlook of Copenhagen, and to make another rehearsal for success and durability for the expected night cold in Norway ;)



Sunday, February 14 ... Exalted, more by our fantasies about the forthcoming than by Saint Valentine's day, we took off to Tromsø via Oslo. This flight was marked with an unpleasant surprise - it turns out that flying to Norway with a domestic flight change if you have a checked-in baggage, it must be taken from the band and then re-checked-in, thus you must go through security checks, etc.

This was very illogical and strange, and given we had only one hour at the Oslo airport to change flights and also the fact the flight from Copenhagen to Oslo was delayed with about 20 minutes, inevitably led to all our luggage being not with us at the final destination. Luckily we got all of it in Tromsø with the next flight, but we spent about two hours complaining at the airport and not to mention our frustration. However, with this small detour, all the logistical problems of our expedition ended! We took from the airport the van that we had rented in advance and after 20 minutes we were at the hotel.

Our enthusiasm was so strong that almost immediately we put on our warm clothes, hoisted the backpacks with photo equipment, jumped in the van and went to the first two planned coordinates where we made photos until about two o'clock in the morning.




(The enchanted group)


In Northern Norway the road cleaning is interesting and environmentally friendly - the road maintenance authorities do not throw chemicals on the roads, which are almost completely frozen. Instead, they throw small black pebbles that help melt the ice under the sun. Snow machines throw the snow on the side of the road when there is such, no matter the time of day. All the cars over there have tires with metal spikes.

Huge tunnels had been dug under the town and they not only provide a faster way to drive but also serve as parking places. An elegant and effective solution to create a place where the cars can sleep - it is spacious above the ground and the views are gorgeous, and also, in the morning one does not have to clean the snow accumulated on the car roofs during the snowy nights.

The next days and nights were filled with the sound of the horseshoes on the hundreds horses of our faithful car on the roads of Norway and one night to Finnish Lapland - the weather was not with us, the sky was pretty much covered with a huge cloud blanket that hid the stars and the Northern Lights from us.

There were moments in which small heavenly doors were opening above us and we were quickly jumping out of the car and with well trained motions, were setting up our tripods and necks up. Making photos or just enjoying the play of light.


The days have passed too quickly and here we were again in the flying metal birds on our way back to Sofia. In Copenhagen, this time we managed to find a late night restaurant with Danish cuisine. We enjoyed the dishes we tried - vegetable soup, roasted duck, a wonderful dish with beef, mushrooms and small sausages and Danish beer turned out to be extremely pleasant and tasteful.

The next morning we flew from Copenhagen to Sofia, hugged each other at the airport and wished health until we saw each other again.


Text and photos by Damian Hadjiyvanov, Light Captured.

No part of this travel story can be used without the author consent.

Check out my phlog: https://hadjiyvanov.com/ for more ;)

You could buy digital or printed copies of my photos from this online store: https://lightcaptured.picfair.com/

Became a patron of mine at: https://www.patreon.com/lightcaptured

Get some passive income: https://www.mannabase.com/?ref=VPLfW16yTS


This is really great travel feed. I like to see this also. I can see your effort by reading your post. I would like to feature your post in #pifc contest.

Thank you, @mmunited! It is totally worthy seeing it :)

I was not aware of #pifc so far, could you please point me to the best place to read more about it?


You can see using this link: https://steemit.com/payitforward/@pifc/week-30-pay-it-forward-curation-contest-ccaaa7f562689est

This is a curation contest. So it is not like curie or C2. This is a weekly contest. Both of featured bloggers and curator will get 1 SBI share. Featured bloggers will get noticed from a lot of people.

Seems great to me, please go ahead ;)
Thank you, @mmunited!

I think all the prep was well worth it. You got some fantastic shots. That truly would be a trip of a lifetime. Thanks so much for sharing with us.
I found your post because it was featured by @mmunited in this weeks pay it forward curation contest.

Thanks so much, @headchange!
#pifc is really a great idea and project, I am considering to participate as well ;)

Congratulations! Your post has been selected as a daily Steemit truffle! It is listed on rank 18 of all contributions awarded today. You can find the TOP DAILY TRUFFLE PICKS HERE.

I upvoted your contribution because to my mind your post is at least 5 SBD worth and should receive 145 votes. It's now up to the lovely Steemit community to make this come true.

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Have a nice day and sincerely yours,

Much appreciated, @smcaterpillar and @trufflepig :)
Have a nice week! ;)

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It is my pleasure and delight for my eyes, thank you, @travelfeed & @for91days!
It seems I have to find the time to describe my newer travels as well, to Iceland, Malta and few trips to Italy, all for photographic purposes so guess if I made photos there ;)

So ready for it!!!

The preparation and all obstacles you've faced to get the Aurora are nothing to compare with the result, right? Wonderful pictures @lightcaptured 😉 sometimes I wonder what's the photographers gone through to be able to show us their great catches, now I understand it through your post which I find in @mmunited entry post in the pay it forward contest this week. I think that your story and pictures should've get more attention because this is a high quality content post that make steemit alive!

You are right, @cicisaja, all the challenges were totally worthy :)
Thanks so much for the warm words, you've put a smile on my face! :)

Thinking about it, I could have made much more good photos of Aurora if I wasn't in the role of guide/driver/teacher/entertainer there :) Nevertheless, despite the suspense and few minor crises, I enjoyed every minute of this trip ;) And as you could imagine, I gained few new friends, which is priceless.

You could check out my latest, I would call it a story within a story of another magical place that I love:


Happy Thursday and Steem on! :)

But .. why don't you put any watermarks on the pictures above @lightcaptured? Don't you think some bad people could use it for other purposes without your permission?

Oh no.. is the small dot at the bottom right your signed symbol. 😊 thanks for the link😉 I'm going to enjoy the luxurious experience of yours for free😉 delightfully

Yes, that's quite possible and has happened few times that I am aware of. Of course, I don't use the maximum quality and resolution in any social media as my photos are available for sale as well with print quality and big sizes ;)

I use a tiny version of my logo, because generally I think big signatures and text distract the attention from the picture which isn't my goal ;)

Please do enjoy my visuals, @cicisaja, you're more than welcome :)))

Wow, what an amazing experience! Thank you for sharing it with us!

I found you because @mmunited featured you in this week's Pay it Forward Curation Contest. Keep up the great work!

Dear @lightcaptured,

Your story attracted our attention and we would like to introduce our tag #archisteem that could provide you with some extra support. For your information, we are currently running the project – 1001 Places to Remember. Your content is a fit for the project and could be qualified for the 10 Steem reward biweekly contest.

It would be great if we can have this story of yours included in the project. If you agree, please reply to us.

Do drop by and take a look :) Hope to see you around soon.

Stay tuned and Steem on!

Sincerely from,

@archisteem and team

Dear @archisteem, I would love my story being included in your project. :)

Steem on! ;)

Awesome, we are thrilled to hear that :) Thanks for the support @lightcaptured. Let's Steem on!

This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.

Thank you, @c-squared!
It is a pleasure and an honor :)

This post was upvoted by @interfecto7 and @interfecto thanks to @lightcaptured

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Gosh you must have been so thrilled comma especially as you had put so much work into planning it. I know people who have gone but didn't see the lights. It is certainly on many peoples bucket list. Your photos are fantastic. I have seen the southern lights here in 1993 but I am not sure I will ever get the opportunity to see the northern ones.

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Thank you, @riverflows! Good luck comes to those who are well prepared, they say. And there was really a big dose of luck! We spent in Northern Norway about a week, but the Lights could be photographed properly only in the first night. What's the feeling of the Southern Lights? I saw Aurora again in August, when on my photo-trip in Iceland and it was completely different, in colors, shapes and density...

Isn't nature amazing? To see it twice and to see such variation you are truly blessed

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Indeed it is! It was a great and unexpected present, the second time I saw it. I felt really blessed, happy and lucky :)
I really should find some time to post a new story about my Iceland trip... :)

Thank you for using Resteem & Voting Bot @allaz Your post will be min. 10+ resteemed with over 13000+ followers & min. 25+ Upvote Different account (5000+ Steem Power).

Cheers mate! I cannot tell you how much i enjoyed this post.

Aurora is a dream for me too. And maybe oneday i will get to experience these awesome northern lights.

I would like to ask one thing though, Why tripods to shoot them?

It is indeed a true miracle, @cave-man, standing under it and feeling it with your whole body and mind... :) I forgot my vocabulary the first time I saw it :D

The tripod is, I would say, obligatory. It is dark as it's obviously happening at night, and the photos you see in my post, the shutter speed is between 2 and 8 seconds. You shoot at ISO between 800 and 1600, sometimes even 3200/6400. And I could hardly imagine anyone's hands not shaking for 2-8 seconds :D

It is a balance, to be honest. If you go with higher ISO values, you catch more stars and lights in your photos but the quality radically drops. I would say, the optimal value with the current DSLR or mirrorless cameras is about 1600, based on my experience.

I was blessed one more time to see the glorious Aurora Borealis, in Iceland, in August, quite unexpectedly :) I will write a separate photo-travel-story about it :)

My intention to asking that question was to know these details.
For my crop sensor based DSLR with shitty lens I also don't go above 1600. But owning a cheap low light prime lens f1.8 50mm has really hepled me to go upto 12800 and get good enough quality. But that comes with the side effect of not having a wide angle. Well, looks like being rich is only a option for me to get quality landscapes haha.
Thanks mate!

I'm not rich myself either (yet), I have to admit! :)
However, there are always options. 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens, generally. The biggest problem with it is that it is too long for landscapes, generally speaking. On a crop sensor, this is the full-frame equivalent of 75 mm (on a Nikon body) or 80 mm (Canon's crop factor is 1.6)

For my crop body, I use a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, which is a really stunning lens for its price!

The photos in my post are shot with Canon 5D Mark III and 16-35mm f/2.8 lens.
I am a huge fan of Canon myself, but I have to admit that the 11-16 mm Tokina is much better in some aspects, especially considering what you get for the price.

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A dream hope will come true also to me. Failed during my stay of some days in Lulea Sweden, some days in Tasmania (of course in the opposite period of the year) the next try will be in Canada living through a one year work permit hopefully. Great story and post!!!

Thank you, @philfreetotravel! Seeing it and photographing it is such a complex combination of factors that persistence and preparation are hugely important, I believe ;)
Fingers crossed, I truly wish you to see it and feel it for yourself, waiting for your photos ;)

Beautiful photos! I am happy for you to be able to experience this. Is that miracle happen every night or is it a specific window of time it occurs?

Thank you, @alnedkov! :)
Aurora depends on so many factors that it isn't possible to predict it at 100%. There are certain apps that show the probability based on your location but speaking from my experience, they are not reliable at all ;)
Aurora could glow any night of the year in theory, but the best months to see the Northern Lights are October and November and then February and March. That's based on statistics collected for several years back.

I have to admit I saw it in the end of August during my photo trip in Iceland and it was an absolute surprise even to the Icelanders ;) I was there for 8 days and Aurora was on one night only.

This is a trip that you will never forget. And I will never forget those photos. I'm sorry to hear that you had issues with luggage but you have luckily sorted that out.

I'm coming from a protected area in the East of Slovakia and we were also using black pebbles instead of chemicals. There is a huge dam with drinking water and for this reason no chemicals are allowed in the area.

Your photos are absolutely stunning! Two days is way to short to stay there. I can imagine being there every night :)

Thank you for sharing your work with us. I have enjoyed it a lot!

Thank you, @delishtreats! You're absolutely right, I won't forget that :)
I'll probably tell that story to my grandchildren if the Big Boss above lets me :)))

Actually, we've been there for a week, but it was only two nights where we could see and photograph the Aurora, the first one with clear sky and temperatures of -15 ~ -20 degrees Celsius, and another night where clouds were breaking from time to time for very short periods... The rest of the days we've been traveling around Norway and Finland to find out a cloudless spot in the sky ;)

I would stay more, but the standard of living in Norway is very high, food and services were about twice the values I've seen even in Switzerland. So I simply could not afford to stay longer... :(

It is so good that you try to preserve the Nature in such a way... I have to admit, I've never been to Slovakia, where would you recommend me to go from a photo perspective? :)

Twice the values in comparison to Switzerland? Wow! I live in Switzerland so I can't really imagine the prices in Norway then.. it's so expensive here!

The landscape in Slovakia is beautiful. You can go to any part of the country and easily find some beautiful places to photograph. I would avoid cities - there is not much to see.

If you want something special then I would go to the East. There is not such a high population and the conditions for stargazing are one of the best in the world. From sightseeing you could enjoy old wooden churches, fairy tale forests, beautiful lake and breathtaking landscape :) If you would ever plan to go there, just let me know and I will write down some places for you :)

Wow, thanks so much, @delishtreads, now you really made me wanna go there! :))) When I start planning, I'll definitely get in touch!

Generally I avoid the big cities during my travels, but I have to admit I love taking some street photos from time to time ;)

Yes, it was indeed very expensive in Norway. Apart from the car fuel and the salmon, everything was bloody expensive for all of us. But still, totally worthy, isn't it? :D

That would be so nice :) I will be happy to help you choose where you should go :)

Well, we don't really have big cities :D I think that the capital city has around 500,000 people if I'm not mistaken. But you can go to small towns. They are very charming :)

It was absolutely worth it, I must say :) Nothing can beat those photos of yours :)

Beautiful photos. I've seen it in Canada. Its quite a thing to witness. Cheers :)

Thank you, @ivanc! Canada... Yes :) I've seen many great Northern Lights pictures from there.
It is in my Photograph-Aurora-Borealis bucket list, actually :)
I hope I could afford it soon, airplane tickets are quite a thing flying from Bulgaria recently.

Everything is getting expensive these days. You would enjoy them and many other beautiful places, like Niagra Falls or the Rocky Mountains :)

I would, definitely! And I aim at finding and photographing some less popular but beautiful places. Plenty of such places that are worthy but need some extra effort to be found and reached ;)

The World is a beautiful place.. :)

Beautiful post, Damian! Many thanks for sharing these gorgeous and very colourful photos. Those sky effects are truly out of this world! :-D

PS: Your post was featured by @mmunited in an entry for the Pay It Forward Contest

Much appreciated, @trincowski!
And of course, @mmunited as well :)

I can't begin to tell you how much I love every one of your photos. I live in the northern part of the United States in Wisconsin and have been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights light up the sky above my house a few times, once quite dramatically, but never as dramatic as this! Your travels were well worth it. Incredible shots.

Thank you for the warm words, @melinda010100! To be able to see the Aurora from the window of your home... that must be simply magical :)
I am considering putting up a short tutorial here about how to capture photos of it, so it might be interesting to you? ;))))

Living in the North, let me entertain you with my latest article, something like a story within a story, about another magical place for me:


Have a great Thursday and Steem on :P

I've lived in southern Wisconsin for all of my life - over 60 years, and I've seen the Northern Lights twice. I suspect that my photo opportunities are slim! But seeing them at all was magical!

Thank you, @mougeras! What do you like in particular? :)

to be honest, i didn't read the text, i just skim it through. The pictures though of the northern light are stunning!

Heya @lightcaptured, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in our Daily Travel Digest!

Much appreciated! I'm happy to enrich the content for the Steemit World Map, @steemitworldmap ;)

Duuuude! These photos! We need to go up north again in the winter to get a full on Northern Lights encounter!

Oooops :)
Hehe, thank you! I was going to say "Sorry!", but I'm not going to, because you deserve to see the Lights for yourselves :)))

Hello, it looks like hou have been on the same place as I was in my post today. Ersfjord outside of Tromsø, when i hiked up the mountain Buren i thought it could be a great place to get pictures of the northern light. Great fun to see your pictures. Nice work 👍🏻

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Thank you, @harkar! It was a great location indeed! :)
If I happen to get back there again, I would go down to the village at the coast and capture more Aurora reflections. I did that few months later in Iceland and Aurora reflections are really something extraterrestrial :)

I will keep that in my mind👍🏻I have a daughter on university, maybe I will check it out during the winter.

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Great! :) Please tag me when you post the photos so I don't miss seeing them ;)
Good luck to your daughter, mine is also in university :)))

I will, (followed you if I forged)

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I've always wanted to see an aurora borealis, @lightcaptured. I've been interested in them for quite some time, but haven't traveled far enough north to see them yet. One of these days.

These are spectacular images. Is there any particular significance to the colors, especially the greens? It just looks like some kind of supernatural entity passing overhead. :)

I know it's lovely to see, but is there something to feel, too? I guess the action is fairly high up, but I'm wondering if any of that magnetic discharge can be felt? That would be absolutely crazy if it could.

I'm glad you were able to see this and capture it for the rest of us.

Hi, @glenalbrethsen!
All I could say is that Aurora is a must-see :) You're right, all the action is quite high up in the sky and I doubt one could sense it physically, but when you see it, especially for the very first time, your body is overwhelmed with shivers and thrills of joy :)
I know sometimes Aurora gets south reaching Scotland, it could also be seen in Canada, Sweden, Finland (I've seen it there as well :)), Russia, etc.
I wish you see it for yourself! :)

Have a great Sunday,

I found you because @mmunited featured you in this week's Pay it Forward Curation Contest. Keep up the great work! @pifc

Thank you! I'll do my best! :)

The @pifc contest Will certainly help, you must consider doing an entry of your own its fun and engaging .