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My long overdue expression of gratitude.

In cooperation with: Visit Norway
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Leicester, United...
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My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Dear all,

I have been thinking about writing my experience of travelling to Tromso from February 2013 for a while. Sadly other things took priority but better late than never.

This is my thanks to the experts in this forum and also people like Ponaire, AylesburyDuck, Smudge,Charlie Cornwal and many other fellow travellers who helped me immensely. But hats off to Guide Gunnar for his sheer infectious enthusiasm about the Aurora and ever willingness to provide sound advice . I'd consider my effort worthwhile if even a single person finds the report helpful.

I am a classic type A personality who loves independent travel and doing plenty of research beforehand to organise things as much as possible. I really believe half the fun of travelling is in planning and knowing the place beforehand.

Long before lovely Joanna Lumley popularised Northern Lights in UK, and pushed the cost up significantly :-), I had seen a programme on top ten natural wonders/phenomena . I had ticked off many of those and needless to say the number one was Northern lights and I was keen to experience that. My desire was also fuelled by regular e-mails with photos of aurora attached from a friend who worked in Calgary, Canada.

I did wonder about travelling to Yellowknife/Fairbanks in Canada but eventually decided on Tromso. Some people say being closer to coast Tromso has more problem with cloud cover and Yellowknife would be better but I won't go into that debate as Fairbanks also has many snowy nights in winter.

I watched the evolution of Tromso forum in Tripadvisor over several years, where from a quiet forum ( in 2006 it had about 12 topics in whole year) it became more and more popular. I remember Oslo Viking from those days. Wonder what happened to MetteS?

Specially I was impressed with the explosion of number of operators offering NL tours in 2013 at the time of my trip compared to previous years and felt there was a slight undercurrent of tension between established operators and new comers.

Then came the NASA prediction that the sun was reaching its peak of solar cycle in 2012-2013 and like many others I also jumped into the bandwagon and decided to visit Tromso during our children's half-term break in February, probably the most expensive time to visit Tromso. Now I'll come to NASA prediction later in my TR !!

I could have come earlier in the season but found that often there was not much snow in Tromso early in the winter and February would have better chance of having snow. But also note that travelling inland from Tromso would guarantee snow and other snow-activities most of the winter. Also February gave me more daylight hours and our stay coincided with the Sami Festival.

As soon as I had decided on the dates I got in touch with Marcus from Arctic Fishing, Gunnar and Kjetil Skogli. This was in April 2012. All of them replied to me promptly. Kjetil had limited availability and I eventually booked one night each with Marcus and Gunnar. Subsequent communications also went smoothly. Marcus' replies were brief whereas Gunnars' were in details. As you know anyone planning to Visit Tromso must start their journey at Visit Tromso( pun intended) website which has very useful info.

I have read millions of comments about lack of toilets in small group tours which has been discussed here ad nauseum. It was never an issue for me. I have used public toilets in rail stations in India and had no problem responding to nature's call in knee deep snow if needed. At least there were no cockroaches to tickle my rear or go up my trousers. Being in dark also helps !!

To be continued...

Tromso, Norway
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21. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

About the blue colors setting on the white balance (AWB), it's fluorescent and you can set it on many different colors. But, the blue make the snow pure white.

In general I am using Daylight / directly sun on the AWB.

But, for people who shoot the Aurora pics in RAW format, they use Auto.

Market Bosworth...
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22. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Great photos and still loving your TR we will be there in Feb and I cannot wait!!!

Shanghai, China
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23. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Will be there very soon@ 28 Sep!! thanks for the info about ferry schedule!! Love all your photos XD

Leicester, United...
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24. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Thanks guys for your comments.

And I just realised some kind soul has pinned this thread to the Top Questions in this forum.

I feel honoured and just hope people continue to benefit from the discussion here and many thanks to whoever did this.

@Iver : yes we were lucky with the weather in the middle of our trip for 2-3 days in a row.

I know it's a cliche but please try to spend at least 5 nights to maximise your chances to see the lights. I have included several photos of daytime activities as well just to show what a wonderful experience it is in daytime.

@Emma: that's nice to hear from an accomplished photographer like you. I've seen your photos from Namibia and would consider myself lucky if I can capture something similar.

@GG : Thanks for clarifying the White Balance. I actually liked your idea of leaving it on Fluorescent mode to get the snow nice and bright.

Lisa and others : wish you all the best and happy aurora chasing.

Thanks

Market Bosworth...
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25. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Thanks Supratik I was thinking the same about yours hoping I can capture anything close and I would be overjoyed! I feel a lot of practice with my tripod coming on before our trip!

Leicester, United...
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26. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

That's a very good idea and also practice in a dark room, especially how to release the quick-release catch. I'm not joking )-:

In the excitement of seeing the lights and while trying to move from one place to another to get better shots please don't hit your fellow travellers with the tripod legs or fall into a ditch.

Another good idea is to have a head torch to keep your fingers free. I had a Petzl one which worked fine even in very cold nights. Marcus showed me how one can shine it at an angle on the snow and the reflected light is strong enough to light your face with NL in the background.

Magne gave us some thin cotton inner gloves to be worn inside the proper gloves so that when I took off my gloves my fingers were not totally unprotected. I know Mittens are better than gloves in keeping your fingers warm but it is practically impossible to fiddle with camera buttons with Mittens on.

You probably already have a decent lens but others who don't want to fork out large sum of money on a wide angle lens for one single trip may wish to look at this site for lens hire in UK.

http://www.lensesforhire.co.uk/index.html

Of course everything is subjective but I felt their rental prices for a L series 14 mm fast lens of £84 for 5 days is a reasonable price.

Happy shooting.

Market Bosworth...
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27. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Thanks for the tips! We have a couple of trips to Dartmouth, Devon coming up and I have always meant to get some beach shots at night with the stars and perhaps a lighthouse as the lack of ambient light is much better than where we are (10 miles from Leicester) so really will do it this year!

I had seen these gloves sealskinz.com/UK/kj842-sporting-gloves-olive… which looked perfect for wearing inside mittens and exposing the smallest amount of flesh possible for setting the camera.

I'll remember the headlight tip and try that one :-)

San Francisco...
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28. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Supratik, I am new to the forum and absolutely green with envy! your photos could almost inspire me to come in winter. almost....

right now we just have the first two weeks of /September in 2014. not sure how much we'll see, but...there is all of Norway to explore!

congrats on a great family trip; i'm sure you made lasting memories for your kids. and thank you for taking the time to post this entertaining and informative trip report!

singapore
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29. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

What an amazing trip report! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to enlighten us. We are eagerly waiting to embark on our trip Nov 25 for 9 nights in Lauklines.

Thoroughly enjoyed your interesting account of your experience. 😄👍

Edited: 17 October 2013, 11:13
Leicester, United...
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30. Re: My long overdue expression of gratitude.

Thanks guys. It is really pleasing to hear that you found the TR useful.

@siouxxie : you are actually making me turn green. So much to do in Norway in summer. I have to return in summer to see the ice bears and wildlife off Svalbard, hike in Western Norway and last but not the least : somehow master the fear to crawl over Kjeragbolten hanging 1000 meters over the fjord and take that amazing shot which would immediately become my profile picture in FB.

@traveljet: I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time at Lauklines.