Day By Day

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Nordic Expedition, Part 18 -- Aurora Borealis

The first stop on our eastward journey was at Mehamn -- formerly a whaling station, now a fishing village of about 700 people. The ship we were on was a working vessel, and as such an important lifeline linking these isolated villages with the outside world. Time and again the ship would stop at some small port, the cargo bay would open, and goods would be offloaded. Locals would line the dock, either greeting passengers disembarking or boarding for transport to another town. This time, because the community was so small there was little dockside activity, so I went down and wandered around for a while, and of course I took my camera.

The bow of the Richard With, tied up to the dock.

An open cargo bay where goods are loaded.

After a short stop we again put to sea heading east and I had an opportunity to take a nighttime shot from a moving vessel. All things considered, it's not so bad. Because it is a low-light shot the shutter remained open and that could produce streaking. Here, the stable lights are all well represented but a small boat cruising through the harbor shows some streaking. Still, it's not a bad shot.

And once at sea we were treated with a gorgeous display of the northern lights. Again I was constrained by the fact that I was on a moving ship in the dark. Some people had tripods to steady their cameras, but I don't think it did them much good because the engines were making the ship vibrate. I simply braced my camera against a rail and set it for a short exposure [to minimize vibration], then once the images were on my computer I ramped up the contrast to bring out the details. This is the result, after cleaning out some streaky stars. Not too bad, but someday I'd like to shoot the aurora from a stable platform.

This is my favorite of all the shots -- kinda mystical, don't you think?

We kept plowing on eastward through the night, but over time the aurora began to fade and I was getting too cold so I packed up my gear and headed back to the cabin to get some sleep.

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