It’s 11.38 pm on a January night and I am onboard a Hurtigruten ship heading up the Norwegian coastline to the Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway. I’m in my pyjamas and have just got under the duvet when the announcement comes over the tannoy “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Northern Lights have appeared on the port side”.

Then follows a mad dash to get my five layers of clothes on and my Arctic boots, along with my woolly hat and gloves. It’s nearly midnight and we were out at sea, I knew it was going to be cold. I’ve seen the Lights from the ship before and I knew only too well that windy weather, rolling seas and a long exposure (which you need to shoot Aurora) was a combination that would only result in a blurry image at best. Still once you have seen the Lights, you are mesmerised by them, so even knowing I didn’t have much hope, I still headed out with my camera. They were there but not strong enough to keep me out for long. I’d try again the next night.

The following night I was prepared. I went to sleep with all my clothes on, including my boots. So when at 11pm the announcement came over the Tannoy again, I was up on deck in minutes. Tonight was a much stronger display, but the waves were much bigger and the wind much much stronger (one of my gloves blew off into the sea in seconds!). I fired off some shots but I knew that I’d have to wait until I got onto the islands and steady land before I could really get anything decent.

The Lofoten Islands are unlike any other place I have ever visited. It is a remote part of the world situated approximately 200km above the Arctic Circle, the landscape is one of the wildest and most visually stunning spots in Norway. This was my third trip to the Arctic. With the hope of viewing the Northern Lights my first mission failed. I was there for over 2 weeks and saw nothing. Perseverance paid off on the second trip (that and sitting in cars for 7 hours a night) and I was greeted with six wonderful nights of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring displays. Would I be lucky again?

I was. Not six nights this time, just three, but two of them with the most amazing displays. The second night was incredible, so much so that Anne Gerd (the owner of the B&B I stay at) could hear me out down by the lake screaming and laughing my head off!! It’s not really a feeling you can explain, you just need to experience it for yourself. And once you do, you’ll be mesmerised, amazed and then, probably like me, completely and utterly hooked!

It’s important to have enough clothes to keep you warm in the Arctic Winter. I was well prepared with my 7 layers. Of course that only helps when you actually put them on. One night I received a text from a fellow photographer telling me to “get outside now” as the Aurora was incredible. In my haste and excitement not to miss anything I forgot to actually put anything on and an hour later realised that it was nearly midnight, I wasn’t wearing a hat, I didn’t have any gloves or socks on and I was only wearing a T-shirt and a thin pair of leggings with an unzipped jacket. I had been so distracted I hadn’t realised that my legs were like frozen blocks. It’s amazing (and a little stupid) how common sense goes right out the window when nature is putting on such an awesome show for you!

If you ever get the chance to view the Lights, it’s something I can highly recommend and if you are looking for an unusual stunning place to go to as well, then I can highly recommend the Lofoten Islands. In-fact if you are there next February you might see a woman in just a t-shirt and leggings screaming and laughing her head off again……

 

sandra_pic1

sandra_pic2

sandra_pic6

sandra_pic3

sandra_pic5

About The Author

Sandra Jordan

I create images that have space to breathe – like visual meditations. I find simplicity in remote places and beauty in abandonment. I travel to escape my crowded city life and use photography to slow down and appreciate this beautiful world that surrounds me. Photography silences the chaos and offers me a sensory escape.