The Northern Lights..

On Wednesday night, the Icelandic Met Office Aurora forecast was ‘Severe’.  This was as high as the scale goes and I’d never seen it at anything above ‘Very Active’.  I’m not sure why they should use the word ‘severe’ when talking about the aurora but I guess it must have something to do with the potential for disruption to communications that comes with solar flares.

The weather here in Iceland had been awful all day.  But ever hopeful, after dinner I set off for Grotta Lighthouse in the west of Reykjavik.  As I pulled into the car park and looked up, the clouds parted momentarily to give me a taste of what might be before closing in again.  The rain started and I thought that was it.  My one chance at a really decent show of the Aurora Borealis and the weather was not playing ball.

On a hunch, I left Grotta Lighthouse (to be honest I wasn’t too happy with the level of orange sodium light pollution from the city) and I set of for the most westerly point I could think of that wasn’t too far out from Reykjavik.  The point I had in mind was the small town of Gardur, not far from Keflavik Airport.  I knew there was a lighthouse there as well as a daymark complete with the traditional red stripes.  I figured if I could get beyond the terrible weather, this would make a good foreground subject while I waited to see what a ‘severe’ show of the Northern Lights might reveal.

It rained all the way to Keflavik, it was only as I pulled into Gardur that the rain appeared to be stopping.  I drove through a town all tucked up for the night to the lighthouse and daymark where, not surprisingly, I found several photographers with tripods set and looking skyward hopefully.

I couldn’t get near the daymark for the other photographers so I set up on the beach and waited.  It wasn’t long before the clouds thinned and I could see stars.  Shortly thereafter, I was witness to one of nature’s most mesmerizing light shows.  It started quite gently, just along the beach..

Northern Lights IIISpacerAnd went on from there..Northern Lights VSpacerIt wasn’t long before it started to rain again.  It was about 1am and I was considering heading home as indeed the other photographers appeared to be doing.  I hung back though, once again on a hunch and waited.  The skies cleared shortly thereafter and with the ‘competition’ gone, I could finally set up the shot I’d had in my mind’s eye before arriving in Gardur.

What I hadn’t bargained for was quite how intense the light show turned out to be and I certainly hadn’t imagined being able to capture the aurora and the Milky Way in the same shot but there it was.  I was so glad I hadn’t given up..

Northern Lights II

SpacerNorthern Lights ISpacerNorthern Lights IVSpacerI’ve only just started going through the many photographs I took that night.  These are just a few examples, I’m sure I’ll be posting more along the way.  The skies were not completely clear as you can see but I was quite pleased, the clouds really added something rather than detracted I think.. :-)

SpacerAdrian Theze Photo logo_2

92 responses

  1. Wow, these are beautiful shots! I would love to see the Aurora Borealis in person

    October 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    • Thank you Jodie! I hope you do one day! :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:43 pm

  2. Amazing shots!!

    October 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    • Thank you Harrie! :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:43 pm

  3. Wow, how amazing!! So well seen Adrian. Glad you got the Milky Way :)

    October 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    • Thank you so much Marina. I was lucky this time for sure! :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm

  4. Wow… what a stunning series of images here!!!

    These are some of the best Aurora images I have ever seen…

    Thank you so much for sharing :)

    October 10, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    • Thank you very much Sreejith. It was quite a show! :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm

  5. Oh my Adrian, I cannot tell you how envious I am of your experience. I don’t care if you ever got a shot off (altho thankfully for those of us who follow you, you did!) but just SEEING the show must have been a life-changing moment. Absolutely breathtaking.

    October 10, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    • I’ve been to Iceland quite a few times now Tina and spent quite a few hours, well more than quite a few hours, standing in the freezing cold looking skyward in vain. I was so lucky this time. It was an amazing show. I set the camera, had the remote in one hand and sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, clicking at random, repositioning where necessary but most of all, just enjoying the experience. I just wish I’d captured some video as well but that’s for next time.. :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:49 pm

  6. It must have been wonderful to stand under such a powerful sky. I did not realise that there could be so many colours, or that it could fill the sky, as you show. Beautiful.

    October 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    • Thank you. I had seen the Northern Lights briefly before but never imagined anything like this particular show. :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 6:50 pm

  7. Sue

    My oh my – quite pleased, Adrian? I would have been chuffed to bits! What brilliant hunches you have….

    October 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    • This one definitely paid off Sue! Yes I guess quite pleased is a little understated to say the least! :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      • Sue


        October 10, 2015 at 7:54 pm

  8. Phenomenal shots Adrian. I thought the first image was spectacular, that vivid lime contrasting with the orange on the beach, but then I saw the Milky Way. Oh wow! What a sight! Is the lighthouse lit up like that from the light in the sky? It must have been almost heart-stopping watching that light show.

    October 10, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    • Thank you Jude! The light on the daymark comes from the lighthouse proper which is about 100m behind. It was quite a night. When it got to half past two and there was a lull in the show, I decided I’d have to get to bed.. I just had to make sure I didn’t look behind me as I packed up the car. I could have been there all night but had quite a day planned for Thursday. Hopefully it’s not a once in a lifetime experience but it really did feel pretty special. :-)

      October 10, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      • I am sure there will be more for you, but that has to be something extra special. Thank you for the chance to experience it with you.

        October 10, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      • It’s been a real pleasure to share these shots particularly Jude! :-)

        October 10, 2015 at 8:06 pm

  9. Wonderful! The aurora is quite the show stopper. You have really done justice to the “out of this world” experience it is to watch the sky light up like this. Thanks so much for sharing! Glad you stuck around after everyone else left, what a payoff!

    October 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    • Thank you very much Carrie. I really appreciate your comment! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 8:15 am

  10. Magnificient!

    October 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    • Thank you so much Marylou! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 8:15 am

  11. Really love that last shot!

    October 10, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    • Thank you Simon!

      October 11, 2015 at 8:15 am

  12. Oh wow, what a spectacular light show! Brilliant getting the milky way alongside but I just love the moodiness of the aurora above the clouds :-)

    October 10, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    • Thank you very much Sarah. That’s a favourite of mine too! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 8:16 am

      • I think that was the same night that the aurora was seen even in North Wales! Thanks for staying out late and chasing the weather breaks to get that shot. It’s really powerful :-)

        October 11, 2015 at 10:15 am

      • Hi Sarah, Yes I heard that the aurora was seen in the UK that night. It really was an intense show so I’m not surprised. It was a late night but getting back and seeing that I’d managed to capture what I wanted to made it all worthwhile. :-)

        October 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      • Oh I know exactly what you mean! I felt the same with the lunar eclipse. I think I had about 3hrs sleep that morning ;-) When you capture something that seems to sing to your soul it makes everything worthwhile!

        October 11, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      • It certainly does Sarah! :-)

        October 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      • :-D

        October 12, 2015 at 9:22 pm

  13. Utterly amazing! My favorite is the last shot without the distraction of the lighthouse (?) It looks like an astounding storm of colors.

    October 11, 2015 at 2:51 am

    • Thanks ever so much Gunta! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 8:16 am

  14. Adrian, these shots are just feasts for the eyes ~ wonderful work!

    October 11, 2015 at 6:41 am

    • Thank you so much Randall. I’m so glad you enjoyed the pictures.

      October 11, 2015 at 8:17 am

  15. Oh wow, these are gorgeous! I remember the first time I saw the Lights, it was magical. :D Thanks for sharing, Adrian! (PS. Now the link in your previous post worked for me as well, I hope I can join one of the workshops one day.)

    October 11, 2015 at 8:07 am

    • Thank you Camilla! I have to agree, it’s a magical experience. It would be lovely to have you along on one of the workshops one day! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 8:18 am

  16. lensaddiction

    These shots are stunning and the last one with the green clouds and the wave of orange colour is OUTSTANDING! Good on you for sticking it out and waiting (given your challenges) and it certainly paid off. I have never seen an aurora but both that and Iceland are on my bucket list.

    October 11, 2015 at 9:14 am

    • Thank you ever so much Stacey. I hope you get to Iceland one day and get to enjoy the Aurora one day. It’s certainly a destination worthy of anyone’s bucket list I think. :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      • lensaddiction

        Especially if I come back with images as nice as yours, I have seen some GREAT waterfalls on your posts :)

        October 11, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      • Thank you again Stacey! :-)

        October 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

  17. Truly stunning photos…love these jaw dropping photos!!!! Amazing! Thanks for spending all night waiting for the Northern Lights and sharing some of your amazing photos with us. :-)

    October 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    • Thank you so much. Getting the pictures made it all worthwhile! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm

  18. These are breathtaking and I had to move to my larger screen to look again. Bravo!

    October 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    • Thank you so much Carol! :-)

      October 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm

  19. just amazing…:-)

    October 12, 2015 at 5:29 am

    • The Northern Lights really are, thank you! :-)

      October 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm

  20. WOW! Amazing photographs!! Thank you for sharing with us!

    October 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    • Thank you Dorinda for looking! :-)

      October 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm

  21. Absolutely stunning, Adrian….wow!

    October 12, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    • Thank you Scott! Quite a spectacle that’s for sure! :-)

      October 12, 2015 at 7:52 pm

  22. Fabulous images Adrian….the Northern Lights are impressive enough, but the shoreline in the first and last images look like rivers of molten lava. Its very dramatic.

    October 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    • Thank you so much Mark. The beaches around this part of Iceland are famous (or rather infamous) for the smell of rotting sea weed which the tide piles up in huge drifts. What you see in the foreground is said sea weed reflecting orange light from the sodium street lighting. It does add an element of interest that’s for sure but not too pleasant a place to set up a tripod to shoot the Northern Lights. I was glad when the other photographers departed so I could get off the beach! :-)

      October 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      • I preferred my explanation of molton lava…….haha

        October 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      • Me Too! :-D

        October 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm

  23. poppytump

    Awesome captures of the Northern Lights ChillB .. what a merry dance they have led us the last few nights ;-)
    Half way through our road trip and SO much more fun and photography to be enjoyed, what a time we’re having with it all !
    Autumn is bursting with colour out there in the landscape , after our mammoth drive all along the coast today in subdued light – for want of a better expression – let’s hope for a break in the clouds tomorrow and a chance to catch that certain *glow we know to be there xx

    October 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    • Thank you so much Poppy! Sorry it’s taken so long to reply to your lovely comment but we have been rather busy.. ;-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      • poppytump

        Oh yes, haven’t we just – another awesome Icelandic road trip notched up – and now all set to be busy in a different way looking through all we’ve managed to capture the last couple of weeks …. Absolutely Marvejols ! :-) xx

        October 20, 2015 at 6:07 pm

  24. Absolutely amazing images, Adrian! You must have been overjoyed when you had a look at what you’d got. The first and last photos are my favourites. Well done. :)

    October 12, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    • Thank you very much Sylvia! The Northern Lights were an incredible spectacle and it was a real pleasure to finally see them and to see them when they were so active, dancing across the sky. I wish I’d had the foresight to shoot some video as the movement is so very beautiful. Next time.. :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm

  25. I am soooo envious! Love the photographs.

    October 13, 2015 at 8:06 am

    • Thank you ever so much Sonja! It really was quite a show! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm

  26. Stunning. I hope to see the show in person one day. ;)

    October 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    • Thank you Cynthia. I hope you get to see the show also!

      October 20, 2015 at 5:34 pm

  27. These are crazy beautiful, Adrian! I admire and appreciate your tenacity and commitment to making outstanding work. You are amazing!

    October 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    • Aww thank you Karen. That means an awful lot to me!

      October 20, 2015 at 5:34 pm

  28. Despite the initial not so good forecast, in the end you got some amazing photos. I have seen aurora a couple of times, but never anything like this. Must have been breathtaking!

    October 13, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    • It was Otto, thank you. We were very lucky to be in Iceland when the Aurora was so active. We very nearly missed out but I went with my hunch and it paid off! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:33 pm

  29. Great photos !

    October 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    • Thank you very much indeed! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:36 pm

  30. Truly superb shots, Adrain. The best Northern Lights wie have seen for ages.

    October 14, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    • Siri and Selma object; the BEST we have ever seen. :-)

      October 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      • ..And thank you very much Siri and Selma! I got lucky! :-)

        October 20, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    • Thank you so much Dina! It really was quite a night! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:35 pm

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  32. Amazing. Your instincts served you well! I love the clouds mixing with everything else. First and last are my favorites, I think because they look more inviting and real to me.

    October 18, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    • Thank you so much Lynn! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm

  33. Amazing photos.

    October 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    • Thank you Francina! :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm

  34. Brilliant in every way!

    October 21, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    • Thank you so much Elena! :-)

      October 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

  35. natural beauty captured so well :)

    October 22, 2015 at 5:12 am

    • Thank you very much Joshi! You’re very kind!

      October 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

  36. Superb – precisely what I required was a solid base and interesting foreground – not a moving ship – we live and we learn….

    December 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    • Not easy to get a good shot from a moving ship that’s for sure. I liked you pictures very much nonetheless!

      December 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

  37. theindiangirl

    This is beautiful

    February 23, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    • Thank you. It really was stunning to witness!

      February 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      • theindiangirl

        U must have felt blessed

        March 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

      • I did, thank you! :-)

        March 12, 2016 at 5:12 pm