And last but not least – The Northern Lights

Hurtigruten commit to giving you another trip (half-a-trip actually) if you don’t see the Northern Lights on the 12-day voyage. Well, they didn’t need to worry on this trip. We saw them twice.

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

The first time was the evening after we’d visited Trondheim and the lights were probably more spectacular on that occasion. It has to be said that taking photos on a tripod from a moving boat with c.400 other people trying to do the same is not something I’d recommend. So much so that I retreated almost immediately to a sub-optimal location on the port (left) side of the boat. The lights were dead ahead – in front of our cabin in fact, not that we’d have seen anything from there due to the jostling and bad manners that was taking place outside our window. So bad manners is the first no-no about photographing the aurora from a boat. The second is that the boat’s moving so you don’t get a strong, stable foreground and the stars are moving as well.

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

That being the case, the photos are not great, but at least they’re a record of the fact we saw the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

The Northern Lights south of Rørvik

It also has to be said that you can see much more from the camera sensor than you can with your naked eye, so in that respect I was really pleased to have a high-ISO huge pixel size camera to record the aurora. What some other passengers’ photos must have looked like – who knows! It was also useful to be able to use Lightroom’s spot-removal tool to remove a few “blemishes”, bits of light pollution and errant stars.

More Northern Lights between Kjøllefjord and Mehamn

More Northern Lights between Kjøllefjord and Mehamn

The second showing was not so strong and took place as we travelled towards Kirkenes and so these shots have no land at all in the picture. They’re also taken from the port (left) side of the boat.

Northern Lights between Kjøllefjord and Mehamn

Northern Lights between Kjøllefjord and Mehamn

So that’s it. A wonderful trip. Would we do it again? Probably not in winter. It’s said that May sometimes is the best month to do this trip as you see spring/summer in Bergen whilst it’s still winter in Kirkenes. Rather than do the Hurtigruten trip however I’d like to consider a combination of boat and car. I’d like to make use of the incredible bridges and tunnels; and use the ferries to examine the Lofoten Islands which we hardly saw in the winter light whilst we were there – it must be spectacular when the sun doesn’t set in the summer months. That’s for another year though – coronavirus permitting!

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  1. Jonathan guest April 26, 2020 at 09:17 #

    Really interesting travelogue David. And some great pics!

    • David Harrison April 26, 2020 at 11:24 #

      Thanks Jonathan. It was a truly great trip. One of our best, rivalling our trip across the “red country” in central Australia, and our road-trip from San Francisco to LA via Utah and Nevada. We’ve been so fortunate.

  2. Marie-Christine Dalmaz April 26, 2020 at 09:36 #

    An interesting and enjoyable blog, David, and I congratulate you on managing to takethese pictures in such a tricky situation.

    • David Harrison April 26, 2020 at 11:26 #

      Thanks Marie-Christine. I’d love to go back to Lofoten having just finished (last night) watching Twin on BBC4. The scenery there is quite spectacular.

  3. Leonard Smith April 26, 2020 at 13:40 #

    Lovely pictures as always and this holiday fulfilled many of the things you wanted to achieve. Taking photos in different lighting conditions is no doubt a challenge which I feel you have come through with flying colours. Pat is a fan of your photography and enjoys viewing your pictures.

    • David Harrison April 26, 2020 at 18:06 #

      Thanks Len and especially my fan – Pat! The light was amazing and we had such a variety from the blues of the dawn and dusk through To the brilliant sunshine, the dawns and sunset orange and yellows, and even the greys of the snowy north. Cheers. Hope to see you before not too long.

  4. Chris Rusbridge April 26, 2020 at 19:08 #

    Definitely worth waiting for, David. Can you give an idea of the ISO needed and the shutter times? I’m still wondering about the possibility of making the trip, and since I don’t have a DSLR it would probably have to be film. Portra 800 pushed 2 stops, maybe… would ISO 3200 be any good?

    TBH until this coronathingy is far into the past, I can’t see us taking any kind of cruises, but one can dream!

    • David Harrison April 26, 2020 at 21:32 #

      Hi Chris. If you click on any of my images a gallery opens and you get the EXIF data for any of the images. First three were ISO 640 and 20sec at 1.8 (I think), the last two were at 6400 and 1sec – same lens.

  5. Margaret Lewis April 28, 2020 at 15:36 #

    Great to see. You had better fortune than us. We saw the lights once on Hurtigruten in Feb 2014, and then only faintly.
    The Hurtigruten round trip is still excellent, in summer and winter.

    • David Harrison April 28, 2020 at 15:38 #

      We had a great trip. It set us up well for “lockdown”.

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