First Aurora of the Season!

It was a good thing that my friend Snorri and I went out last night to shoot because I managed to catch the Northern Lights in Iceland for the first time this season.

I had been alerted a couple of days prior from an email sent by the Australian Space Forecast Centre that there would be a large recurrent positive polarity north polar-connected coronal hole rotating into a geoeffective position favourable for possible auroral activity on the nights of the 7 and 8 October. The prediction thereafter was for KP5 heading into KP6. When I initially messaged Snorri about it, we didn’t really know where to go for the best chance of seeing it, as Iceland would be covered in cloud for most of the night, but we tentatively made a plan to head out at around 9:15pm.

We monitored the cloud radar quite closely until at around 6:30pm, we realised that the clouds were moving faster than expected. Eventually, we brought our meeting time forward and headed out at 8pm towards Hafnarfjörður, where the cloud cover looked more favourable.

During the entire drive, we could see the Aurora out of the car windows. 

The geomagnetic activity was quite strong, resulting in yellows, greens, purples and pinks lighting up the night sky. By the time we arrived at Straumur, we were so excited that we bounced out of the car and immediately began shooting.

This photography location in Iceland has become very popular over the years, so unfortunately, we were not the only ones there. We counted perhaps six or seven cars in total over the brief period of time that we were shooting, with a lot of light pollution due to the nearby city and freeways. Thankfully, this isn’t the only composition that you can gain from the area. There are numerous little pools around that make for beautiful shots, particularly if pointing in the same direction as everyone else just isn’t your cup of tea.

I did take a little bit of a fall at one point when I slipped on a wet rock. My Sigma 14mm lens hit the rock but thankfully only sustained a little bit of a dent to the lens hood.

We headed to a couple of other locations over the evening as we tried to out-run the clouds, though the Aurora activity soon died down and the clouds took hold, covering us in a light drizzle of rain. Nothing beats winding up at Quiznos late at night after a shoot when your stomach is rumbling and there’s no other place open to eat!

Location: Straumur, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland.

Equipment: Canon 5DsR, Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, Gitzo GT2531LVL Levelling Carbon Tripod with Acratech GPSS Ballhead.

Settings: 13 secs, f/5, ISO 1600.

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