Creative vacatons

Creative vacatons

vendredi 28 février 2014

Driving to Finland and back, only to find Aurora in our back yard.

Yesterday was one of those challenging nights. Clouds and more clouds, and some snow and rain.
I talked to the local weather guy and he said my best chance was Skibotn or Kilpisjärvi. So we drove to Skibotn to find rain, then to Kilpisjärvi to find clouds. Finally we gave up and headed home.

Just when we made the last turn, where we could see our beloved Tromsø, we saw a light on the sky. And no it wasn't a cloud lit by the city lights. It was HER! Lady Aurora! We stopped at Berg just outside town. We had a show that lasted 45 minutes.

Troll marshmallows makes an excellent foreground. 

And so does trees.

lundi 10 février 2014

The Aurora Portraits

As a service to those who join our tours I always try to make portraits of everyone who wants. Sometimes the conditions don't allow it, and sometimes the photographers on the tour are too busy taking their own photos. But very often it happens. I don't take the photos to show off on Facebook or here on the blog. I do it as a service to everyone who wants to come Aurora chasing with us.

Often there are couples who are on their honey moon. 

Or couples who are just really sweet...

Or a radio star from Ireland.

A series of family portraits:

And this gang from India who cam with me in spite of horrible weather forecast. The forecast turned out to be wrong and we enjoyed a very nice show. This is one of the biggest groups we do, and only on special request. Normally we only have small groups. 

 A very busy photographer.

And people taking a break and just watching the sky.

The photos are done in a very simple manner. I just use one flash, mounted on the camera. Yeah I know it's not very "professional", it's down and dirty press-photographer's style. But hey, that's what I am when I'm not doing Aurora tours. The portraits are memories for the ones who come on these trips. My main focus is to help the client get good photographs, and to experience the Aurora. That's what important. 

The way to do these photos is to use a flash to light up the face of the person, and then to let the time go so that the ambient light in the background comes in. Thus the exposure times are fairly long for portraits. Often 10 - 15 seconds. It is important to stand still all the time during the exposure. I could have gone for a shorter time, but then the ISO would have been too high, or the depth of field too short. To learn more about flash and ambient light check out Strobist, or come to one of my tours and practice for yourself.

samedi 25 janvier 2014

Guess What Waited for Me When I Got Home in the Morning?

The last week has been great. I've been shooting time lapses, and have lots of pictures to process. I think I have grown a little spoiled. Aurora has been dancing non stop this week, the weather has been very nice; cold and clear. 

Last night we waited until 9 pm until we saw her. Aurora danced for us for about 30 minutes before she almost stopped. 

 There were still activities but, very little.

We waited and waited. At 12:30 am, my guests were cold enough and wanted to go back. So we did. We were a short hours drive from Tromsø. After dropping the guests at their hotels, I went back home. Guess what I saw when I got out of the van at home at 2:15 am? You got it: Aurora. She was dancing. Partying. telling me who's in charge.

Aurora seen from my drive way.

Corona saying good night.

mardi 31 décembre 2013

Happy New Year! Happy Clear Skies!

Happy accident. A car lighting up the foreground and making flare in the lens.
Luck and chance is and has always been a part of photography.

2013 has been a remarkable year for us at Creative Vacations. We have seen a lot of Aurora, been fighting to find a clear sky, we have increased the number of tours and the number of clients. Vidar has recovered from his broken leg, Silvia is doing more art and she is now preparing two exhibitions.

Aurora dancing for us on the last tour of the year.

I don't want to bore you about stories about bad weather and the search for clear skies. I know you all want to see the Northern Lights not a clear sky. But here's the thing: If we find a clear sky; there's a 80-90% chance to find the Northern Lights. So I and the other Aurora guides drive around searching the clear sky. The Northern Lights take place 180 km to 500 km up in the atmosphere. So if we drive one hour to the west or one hour to the east, doesn't matter for the Northern Lights, but it makes an enormous difference for the weather. Sometimes driving just ten minutes makes all the difference.

Tough weather!

How do we find the clear sky then. For me it's a combination of forecast and local knowledge. I'm from a family of fishermen. My family has lived here for generations. We have a profound interest in the weather. Even more than the average Norwegian.

Do I always find clear skies? No.
Do I often find clear skies? Yes.
Do I find clear skies when the others don't? Sometimes.
Do others find clear skies when I don't? Sometimes.
Is local knowledge important to find clear skies? Yes.
Is luck  important to find clear skies? Sometimes.
Can you trust the forecast? No.
Can you trust the forecast more than local knowledge? No.
Do I find a clear sky when the forecast tells there is none? Often.

December 27th.

December 29th.

December 30th.

Since we came back from spending the Christmas in London we have been out four nights. On those four nights the forecast has predicted overcast. Still we have had clear skies and Aurora on three out of four nights. On the night of the 29th, the forecast predicted a window in the clouds around midnight, it started raining instead. The day after on the 30th, it looked so bad in the afternoon that I offered the clients to cancel. None of them did, and it turned out to be super clear and super good Aurora. That was the best way for me to end 2013. Not let us all make 2014 the best year ever!

dimanche 15 décembre 2013

Going the extra mile - or not...

 I'm all in favor of going (or shall I say driving?) the extra mile. But sometimes it's best to stay home.

Last nights we had some guests with extra needs, so the arrangement was a little different. We were extremely lucky with the weather, and with madame Aurora. Aurora showed up at the time when I would normally pick up the clients, but yesterday was special in that way too.

Statistically there is most Northern Light activities from 10 to 11 pm. That's statistic. Yesterday there were most activities from 6 to 10 pm. A week ago there was an explosion at 2 am. To check it out for yourself, please go to Click on real time to see what is happening now, or what happened an hour ago. Click on Prev. day to see how it has been. If the graph stays flat, there is no activity, if it goes up or down, something is happening. Be aware that even if the graph is flat we can often still see the northern lights.

This photo was taken on 25.11.2013 at 23:34
Here are the activities:

Back on our not so usual day on Håkøya. Here are Silvia's photos taken a few hundred meters from our house.

mardi 3 décembre 2013


Sometimes Aurora is shy. Very shy. The two last days she has been very shy. But she has been there. The moon is hiding too so the stars are out at their full strength. On December the 1st we found clear skies at the border between Norway and Finland.

This was the strongest view we got.

In this picture Aurora is looking at us, just where the Milky Way ends. 

December the 2nd it was misty on the border. But we could see the stars. We waited and waited.
Then suddenly we saw something on the camera. Those of us who get our right doses of cod liver oil and thus a good night vision could also see it with our eyes.

samedi 30 novembre 2013

Don't Do as They Tell You

Don't put the horizon in the middle of the picture! they say.
They also say that if it snows in Tromsø you have to go to Finland to see Aurora.
So they say.

I have a confession to make:
I don't always listen to what they say.
I like to do my own things, choose my own images, go my own places.

Is it risky? Yes.
Will I keep doing it? Oh yes.

The wind was from the north and it was snowing in Tromsø.
Wind from the north often gives us snow, but also breaks, clear openings in the sky. Windows of opportunities. We opted for those windows.

First the window was ajar.
Then it opened more:

We enjoyed the window wide open and Aurora celebrating it.

And I put the horizon in the middle of the picture.
What a crazy feeling!