We were hoping and hoping that we'd get the chance to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, our hopes became reality.
As we were staying 2 nights in a guesthouse just outside of Vik, at the southern tip of Iceland, the owner and operator said she would wake everyone up out of bed if she knew the Northern Lights were active.
We went to bed around 10 pm after a long day of excursions, and then by about 1030 the owner came running down the Hallways shouting "The Northern Lights, the Northern Lights!"
We quickly got our gear on and headed outside. The photo was taken directly outside our bedroom window.
It doesn't show on the data, but the shutter speed was about 120 seconds. We never shot the Northern Lights before, so it was totally new to us and it took some trial and error before we got the technique figured out!
Preferably we would have liked to use an ISO of 1600 or so, but my Pentax doesn't do well with High ISO's - it does everything else well, and I love my camera, just hoping for an improvement in that ISO department in future models.
The green lights were waving like snakes, it was purely magical, they would come and go in these wavy patterns for well over 1 hour! Plenty of time to figure out the camera settings :)
But it was freezing cold! When we got back inside our camera's had frost all over them, still working 100%, just covered in ice! wow!! Pentax's are known for their durability in hostile climates, it did well here.
It was an exciting evening, one I'll never forget! Thanks to the guesthouse owner who also came out and enjoyed the lights!
danos, worldcitizen, SnapRJW, AVH, ikeharel, ourania, ChrisJ, cebe, Noel_Byrne, holmertz, gildasjan, cornejo, Schnappilic, tyro, CLODO, krzychu30, Kugart, Sonata11, Cricri, siudzi, jjcordier, sevy, timecapturer, delpeoples, kabel, Gigidusud, abmdsudi, ktanska, Didi, adores, JFS, Robert1969, rigoletto, annjackman, kiks, josepmarin, kasianowak has marked this note useful
Critiques | Translate
willperrett (11810) 2013-04-24 8:10
You must have been really thrilled to see this. And also to have achieved such a fine record of the event. Good work.
danos (103108) 2013-04-24 8:11
very nice the view of this Natural phenomenon,the Northern lights to are active on the sky..Really this experience must be fascinating for someone visiting the place.Excellent presentation as the light and the colour management.
worldcitizen (9378) 2013-04-24 8:16
Wow! It's great that you were woken up and didn't miss this. The colors are magical, and I can only imagine how amazing they must have looked in person. Really great job capturing the lights; your photographic experience paid off. :-)
Silvio1953 (152947) 2013-04-24 8:23
Ciao Craig, fashinating composition with fantastic sky, splendid light and wonderful colors, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
fotoguy22 (4795) 2013-04-24 8:30
Hello Craig: Iceland and the northern lights....on my bucket list as well. Though I do have to ask you why you would have preferred an ISO of 1600.(?) My preference for long nighttime exposures is ISO 200 or less as long as I have a tripod. Anyway, nice shot. I'm jealous!
Greetings from Florida.............Greg
SnapRJW (31629) 2013-04-24 9:12
Hi Craig - your excitement of the event is palpable from reading your account, it sounds like several Christmases rolled into one. You did a fine job here. Why would you wish to use a high ISO? Just curious. Now I'm going to sit is the corner and sulk.... I want to see this with my own eyes. Beautiful. Warm regards Rosemary
AVH (120) 2013-04-24 9:21
Fantastic! Definitely something I too would love to witness and be able to check off the 'list. Appreciate the comments on settings, etc. Good thing you were able to find the ones you preferred best and capture this incredible experience. The clarity and framing of the photo is spot on as well; a definite masterpiece and wonderful display of this natural phenomenon.
Zolive (5935) 2013-04-24 9:25
Waow! Wonderful picture. Nothern lights are magical. The colors are satured so well and the mountain into chinese shadow give a good perspective to the sky.
I dream to catch northern lights with my camera.
ourania (51079) 2013-04-24 9:53
a very beautiful and captivating sight, a truly unique experience that you have captured and presented so well. The northern lights and colours are awesome and I like very much that the vast landscape, its atmosphere and dark features have been included in the frame. This somehow makes the impact of the natural spectacle more real and fascinating. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great day,
ChrisJ (117825) 2013-04-24 9:57
Wow! An incredible shot of the aurora borealis. Fantastic colour with good sharpness and even a few short star trails from the long time exposure. Well framed and composed. Fabulous silhouettes and graphism. Tfs!
cebe (1491) 2013-04-24 10:10
Very well done. It sure doesn't show you were on a steep learning curve regarding northern lights! I especially like the opposition of the tent and silhouetted mountain on the side, the pink and white lights at the horizon. You're so honest: I think I would not have resisted to the temptation of masking these couple of strong lights at 4:00. It must have been a very nice moment.
yquem46 (38752) 2013-04-24 10:13
never had the opportunity to watch this but it definitely looks very impressive and motivating
Beautiful scenery and excellent exposure control
have a nice day, best regards
Noel_Byrne (33628) 2013-04-24 10:13
An extra special big tick on the list for this, this is a wonderful shot of this phenomenon. Well worth getting out of bed and freezing for!
I visited Iceland a few years ago and one of our plans s to see this,but sadly a massive ice storm blew in and put paid to that. When I see a shot like this I really want to go back and try again. Beautiful image, and thanks for the note too, a nice read to go with a beautiful picture.
serp2000 (45856) 2013-04-24 10:19
You are lucky photographers! Superb capture this wonderful natural phenomenon. I can image your emotions.
Thanks for sharing!
SNOOP_Chan (4377) 2013-04-24 10:30
Hello Craig, this is quite rare what you git here, so i have to congratulate you, first for seeing them and second for sharing them. What can i say, words are useless here. Just a great job. Oh and thank you.
holmertz (59118) 2013-04-24 10:42
This is a spectacular light-show, almost hard to imagine if you never saw it. This should be one of those occasions when it's nice to have a tripod around :-).
I saw this a few times when I grew up in the countryside a long time ago when hardly any artificial light spoiled the view. It didn't happen very often though, as we lived a long way south of the Arctic circle.
gildasjan (43824) 2013-04-24 10:58
Superbe l'image de cet aurore boréale.Cadrage soigné et quelles belles teintes dans ciel!
cornejo (46754) 2013-04-24 11:33
Hi Craig, very good picture of these beautiful and interesting northern lights, beautifully captured in this interesting and nice picture with good sharpness, light and color. Very good and interesting job well done, congratulations my friend. Thanks for sharing this beautiful work.
Good morning and happy rest of week.
Warm greetings from southern Spain.
jemaflor (103099) 2013-04-24 11:44
The most beautiful view about nordic countries in winter nights. Great capture, lovely colors, congratulations and tfs.
Schnappilic (9692) 2013-04-24 11:46
You were lucky that you managed to catch such a phenomenon. A splendid result. Congratulations!
tyro (26142) 2013-04-24 12:34
What a fabulous experience and so wonderful that you were dragged out of bed to see this beautiful spectacle of Nature! (I've actually seen the Aurora Borealis twice in Scotland a few years ago but didn't have my camera with me on either occasion.)
You have captured both the scene and the lovely play of light and colours in the sky perfectly here. The sky is utterly spectacular and I love the dim light on the foreground grass/tundra as well as the little hut in the left foreground.
Fabulous colours, perfect exposure and stunning details and clarity.
CLODO (35748) 2013-04-24 12:38
I do prefer this kind of shot from Iceland than the rusty airplanes or trucks!
Marvelous! Amazing! Eye catching! And I see it from my warm bedroom!
m (0) 2013-04-24 12:59
that was an out-of-this-world experience, right? Everybody's seen a rainbow but the Northen Lights - they're for the chosen ones, for Craig!:))
Love the striking contrast of the dark brown foreground with those green and blue hues of the sky. The well discernible soft texture of the grass is amazing. Super capture.
Love your story too. Sorry can't share my Sri Lankian one here, it's a very long anecdote that should be told over a bottle of red wine with lots of expletives:))
I guess TE is just too refined a place for that;)
fds (9569) 2013-04-24 14:29
dear canadian friend
this picture is very beautiful with aurora boreale
fantastic green colors in rthe sky with very beautiful suggestions in the ground
very well and great schot my friend
krzychu30 (15512) 2013-04-24 14:34
I think alone for this moment was worth to come to Iceland,am I right?it´s like a spectacle of lights out of this world.You captured this special moment perfectly Craig!
Brilliant in this case would be an understatement!
Kugart (1778) 2013-04-24 14:48
Thanks for sharing this exciting experience with us in your photo and also in your note.Getting to photograph the Northern Lights must be spectacular and the colours in your shot are amazing.
rogerl (1632) 2013-04-24 16:59
Craig, this is an amazing shot. I wouldn't have thought that 120 seconds would result in any clarity at all in the sky; rather, I'd have expected a blur of random color. Beautiful colors, and great clarity and even some detail on the ground. Sounds like a wonderful evening. Thanks.
Sonata11 (34007) 2013-04-24 22:13
Awesome !!! very beautiful and very impressive. Very spectacular, amazing colors. THIS IS AMAZING. I WISH TO SEE IT. Wow! wow! wow! I did saw in TV. Love it. Thank you. Fantastic experience ! Tfs.
All the best,
Cricri (125832) 2013-04-24 22:13
Un spectacle extraordinaire comme venu d'une autre planète, c'est fantastique, un instant magique que tu a bien capturer et réaliser
siudzi (34141) 2013-04-24 22:42
Wow! What a stunning view here! I am sure it was a real pleasure to be there at this moment and enjoy the lights. Amazing work executed perfectly with a superb quality. Love it! Congrats!
jjcordier (79297) 2013-04-24 23:03
Je suis un véritable adorateur des aurores boréales et j'enrage de n'en avoir encore jamais vu en vrai. Tu es très chanceux!Tu en as réalisé une splendide photographie.
JFS (32459) 2013-04-24 23:04
Magic, spectacular, unusual here, IMPRESSIVE. Thanks Craig!
sevy (58) 2013-04-24 23:35
It is one of my dream, I am happy to see your shot which is well showing the colors with in background the falling stars.
carlo62 (54958) 2013-04-24 23:55
questo si che è uno spettacolo della natura, unico e magnifico.
L'immagine è bellissima, la sensazione è forte anche guardando la foto, non riesco ad immaginare le sensazioni che si provano stando li.
lousat (97569) 2013-04-25 3:38
Hi Craig,i think that this is a dream for all the photographers,what a lucky night my friend,and what a great capture,you camera settings are very useful for a guide,not simply to take a pic of this unusual and difficult situation.The result is a great spectacle,i wish to tbe there me too one day....ehehe...have a nice day and thanks,Luciano
timecapturer (49288) 2013-04-25 4:46
not surprised this one is receiving a lot of attention. It is spectacular and so beautiful, well done mate! Only seen the aurora once here in the UK and that was a few years ago when I was leaving the squash court and did not have my camera. Extremely rare for it to be so far south. Love this one!
Regards - Brian.
delpeoples (59774) 2013-04-25 7:58
I've been waiting for this one for ages, you know :)
As you say, the Northern Lights are on everyone's Bucket List here on TE (well at least on mine!) You;ve done a marvellous job here, I mean it's not like you have plenty of time to practice getting it right for something like this, is it? What wonderful colours and superb exposure.
But it makes me curious: don't you get Northern Lights there in Canada?
See ya, have a lovely week
ikeharel (78289) 2013-04-25 8:39
You went to sleep, almost missed this, ha...
Great picture, Craig, something is so unique and beautiful, nature's phenomena not seeing in many other places, lucky you were out right in time.
Magical it is, as said, and 120 sec. exposure - you almost "burn" the film.
Fine photojob, cheers for this, great cameraman you area.
Amazing, to sum this up.
kabel (1930) 2013-04-25 8:43
Hello, Wow! Simply spectacular. The colors are amazing. You are so lucky to have captured and seen this unusual site. Realy informative notes, by the way,TFS,
Gigidusud (21247) 2013-04-25 10:53
Wow! Fantastic capture of this natural phenomenon!Certainly a fascinating experience for you.I love it!
Congratulations for this masterpiece and thanks for sharing.
emka (106722) 2013-04-25 17:11
Hi again, THIS is what I would love to see. Wooow,what a view. You were lucky to see it and the quality of photo is magnificent. I am envious :).
I finally saw something that is impossible to see in northern countries - Southern Cross. The night under the stars with no lights around- it was also unforgettable experience.
WArm regrads MAlgo
abmdsudi (57680) 2013-04-26 7:10
Bravo! Lucky you to see this amazing once in a life time spectacle! Very intense, really surreal and that dark sky, then the mysterious alien -looking streak of green I`m soooo jealous, absolutely amazing display of aurora in the cold night and the shape must have been a huge bonus to you. I can imagine you jumping about with excitement when you saw this and your experience with the long exposure shines through here. Only one word tht says it all WOW, I'm in awe...
ktanska (29265) 2013-04-26 11:55
That's incredibly beautiful! There's good balance between sky lights and dim light illuminating the landscape. And those shapes look quite vibrant. I guess it's quite difficult to estimate such long exposures. How much did you have time to experiment and take different shots before the show was over?
Fis2 (106364) 2013-04-27 1:00
I like colors and light.
Greetings from Poland
Didi (60590) 2013-04-27 4:13
Well done for the lights management, very interesting subject
ACL1978 (7511) 2013-04-27 8:55
Potentially risking life, limb and camera for the shot - I'm impressed! This came out beautifully, especially given the challenges, and the 120 second speed creates a smooth and incredible lightshow. Even a bit of a star trail effect visible at top... plus the Icelandic landscape visible despite low light! The northern lights are on my bucketlist as well, and I'm glad you got to check this one off. Thanks!
npecanhuk (78535) 2013-04-27 15:02
Wow! That's something truly unique and magnificent! That's something I still want to see in my life!
Superb phenomenom and picture!
TFS - congrats,
adores (46363) 2013-04-27 16:48
It must be a really great exprerience to watch this! It's surely unique!you were really lucky,I like it a lot! The sky is fabulous with such colours and you have done a good job.
jcpix (13948) 2013-04-28 7:25
I'm so jealous that you were able to experience this, what an incredible display of lights! A wonderful capture, and well worth braving the cold and dealing with little sleep. :) It's no wonder this has received so many comments, it's well deserving of every single one! Mother Nature may have taken care of the effect, but you've masterfully worked the camera to create a stunning image. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this one and let all of the prior accolades speak for the beauty this shows. Awesome, awesome shot! Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
mkamionka (39937) 2013-04-28 13:17
I have recently bought and watched one more time the movie Bucket List but for some reason I did not prepare my own list... But I do have some places I dream to visit. After your and chawax' reportages I will put Iceland on the my list I think..
Very impressive photo here. I am speechless. The lights make fantastic shapes and colors in the sky. Great exposition with such a long time.
I like how you have preserved some shapes on the ground to somehow anchor the heavenly effect.
Robert1969 (7160) 2013-04-29 8:19
Beautiful moment, colors and surrounding.
Light management and composotion are
excellent. Not only the movement of the
Northern Lights is beautiful, I like
also the movement of the stars.
In short: a beautiful picture.
p.s. Perhaps the Pentax K30 is a nice
choice for you?
Bluejeans (64251) 2013-04-30 5:27
Ola Craig ,
Está linda esta tua foto em 120 segundos , linda esta Aurora Borealis em tonalidades de verde , um dia gostava de ver ao vivo :), parabéns!!
Um abraço Gonçalo
claudeD (41574) 2013-04-30 7:06
amazing view from Iceland. Excellent composition and wonderful colors. I like the shot very much. Very well seen and done.TFS.
With regards from Luxembourg
eldancer1 (36343) 2013-04-30 10:26
Wow! Beautiful! This is on top of my bucket list. I have a friend who lives in Alaska and she's asking me to visit her, hopefully one of those days. Great quality in spite of now knowing how to shoot the lights--a 2 minute exposure? That's amazing. Love the colors. Very well done, tfs.
rigoletto (34279) 2013-05-01 12:05
When i wander through TE pages, i kinda feel some panic...
The life is so short to see all of these and we should definitely keep on travelling to see as much as we can...
Your visit to Iceland seems to be so efficient, so many interesting things you've seen and done. Renting a car was a smart idea, as i guess you cannot travel to all those desolate places by taxi.
I read all your story and appreciate the owner for waking you up. I would also feel quite dazzled upon waking up to such a view (who wouldn't), and to that freezing cold. And you should be a lucky guy indeed. Many people go to the arctic zone to witness this beauty but come back without seeing it.
ps: i really want to answer all of your questions about Morocco. Maybe i should send you an e-mail.
annjackman (21903) 2013-05-02 17:04
How lucky you were and something that I have not seen. Magical swirling colours - TFS.
Kind Regards, Ann
p.s. sorry for the short critique but still on the 'Mother Road'.
adidas5nb (5743) 2013-05-02 19:13
thats really unusual pic,full of mystery,so surreal.great colors.and fantastic light management.(is this phenomenon called aurora?)
Waylim (25436) 2013-05-09 13:41
Yes, it is a chance of a life time. Congratulations. Some people go to different place waiting to see the light some spent days or weeks waiting and it never show. You lucked out here and a great shot too.
I'm not sure I know what to do with the camera setting either for such shot. I'll figure it out if I ever has a chance to be there.
Rafer (0) 2013-05-13 9:57
Tre magnifique!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muy buena , interesante y bonita... Craig!!!
kiks (12759) 2013-05-21 12:34
Fantastic, and you know that this year the Nrotherm light were specialy strong. Thank you so muc for sharing it.
ManuMay (36295) 2013-05-31 10:46
Surely worth spending a sleepless night just to wait for such beautiful moments!
Your technical skills working to capture such great momento...Thanks for sharing!!
josepmarin (58359) 2013-06-04 0:25
Hi, my friend Craig,
a shot very far of the architectural compositions! The Northern Lights caught skilfully in this shot, with a very long exposure time, I love the result obtained in this explosion of warm colors on the sky.
Simply beautiful, and well executed.
divail (8334) 2013-06-08 6:37
Qu'elle belle photo! Qu'elle chance tu as d'avoir pu admirer un tel spectacle. Tu multiplie les voyages, et tes photos sont un plaisir à voir, comme toujours.
Bonne fin de semaine
cak (4931) 2013-09-29 9:34
northern lights are so far for our.but we are seeing because of you
kasianowak (10435) 2015-02-21 0:52
This image was featured on TE homepage today - congratulations! Well-deserved. :-)
Beautiful colours in the sky and considering the trade-off between image quality and speed I think you made a perfect choice.
What a coincident, I'm going there in four weeks, almost exactly 2 years after you took this shot.
Do you remember your guesthouse name?
Have a lovely weekend!
- Copyright: craig macintosh (macjake) (72539)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2013-03-17
- Categories: Nature
- Camera: Pentax K7, Pentax DA 16-50mm f2.8
- Exposure: f/6.3
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): CLODO"s selection XV [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2013-04-24 7:53
- Favorites: 1 [view]