I have been doing aurora tours in many forms for many years, and have been very fortunate when it comes to seeing the aurora. This winter I witnessed one of the most spectacular aurora floods we have seen in years, here in Iceland, and got these images here:
But I have also done quite a few tours where there has been no aurora or very weak. The thing is that to get really good photos of the aurora borealis you need to have sufficient aurora activity in most part of the sky. And the sky has to be at least partly clear. Of course you can capture the weak aurora with a camera that is capable of long exposures, but the aurora photos that usually go viral are the ones taken when the activity is high. With texture, forms and shapes. That is not always the case.
So what to do when the aurora fails to show or is too weak? Well night-time photography is real fun and there are so many things to try out: long-exposures, startrails, starlit sky, the MilkyWay in certain times of the year, and so on. About ten days ago I worked on two tours with Travel Technology Services, a luxury travel agency from Thailand, and we went out aurora hunting. As we were waiting for the aurora to light up the sky, it was cold, windy and a lot of fresh snow. We parked the bus right by a road that leads to a lonsome farm, close to the sea. The farm looked so warm and cosy as we stood there out in the cold, but the road was closed with a gate.
And there you go. Motif, feeling and a story to tell with your image. A photographic challenge. And that’s what you do when the aurora fails. You look around for other interesting motifs to tell your story. Portray your vision.