After ten days with snow and wind, rain and storm and many, many clouds – there it is – the sun. The first time i see the sun in Tromsø since some day in November.
Photo taken with my iPhone through the window pane of the canteen at lunch break.
OK guys, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m too lazy to write long texts. I just show some photos of the last days where our German friend Medi joined Annika and me on various excursions with some notes.
Thursday, 6 January – skiing in Västermarks naturreservat
+++ Västermarks naturreservat, 50 km north from Umeå +++ a non-commercial forest made us climb over and under fallen trees that lay across the marked loop trail +++ by the trail a wooden cabin +++ time was too short to fire the oven but lighting candles is cozy, too +++
Friday, 7. January – lunch break skiing
+++ right next to our postbox (500 metres from our house) starts Spåret, a 3600 metre long forest trail +++ we use back-country skis to ski Spåret in my prolonged lunch break +++ we, that’s Dirk – guest for two nights – Medi and I +++ -12 °C, but my Anorak is too warm +++ I tie it round my hip +++ on the photo it looks like a skirt +++
Photo: Dirk Thomas
Saturday, 8 January — cross-country skiing on Olle’s Spår
+++ grey weather, -14 °C +++ the trees are covered with snow +++ black-and-white imagery +++ after some days of back-country skiing it’s nice to use cross-country skis on a real trail +++
Sunday, 9 January – Northern lights and sunrise
+++ 1 o’clock in the night +++ I check for Northern lights +++ we are lucky +++ Medi and Annika watch the aurora beside of the garage +++ I take some photos from our garden +++
+++ 8:20 in the morning +++ the Baltic Sea freezes over more and more +++ sunrise colours by the sea +++ and then in our garden +++ watching sunrise while taking breakfast +++
Still Sunday, 9 January – Strömbäck-Kont
+++ just a short walk at one of Annika’s and my favourite places: Strömbäck-Kont +++ looking at the ice ridge by the sea +++
Still Sunday, 9 January – halo effects
+++ after lunch we are taking Medi to the airport +++ strong and colourful parhelion or sun dogs halos +++ the photo is taken at the airport +++ I am questioned by the security and show the taken photos to prove I’m not a spy +++
While the polar night in Tromsø started in the end of November and continues for two more weeks there is no polar light home in Obbola which is 6 degrees south of Tromsø. So if there is clear sky, then there is sun.
After Christmas in Norway Annika and I arrived in Obbola some days ago. First the weather was cloudy and stormy but today sky was quite clear. Therefore I could witness the sun today for the first time in more than a month. I only had to go 200 metres to the edge of our little bay Grundviken where I waited for the sunrise.
I love sunrises and sometimes I can stand up quite early to witness it. But today it was really special to watch the sun rise higher and higher up the sky while in Tromsø polar night still continues.
After breakfast we took the car to Byviken in Obbola to join the winter bath. Round 40 cars were parked there and a queue of winter bathers waited at the ice hole. Winter bathing has really become a popular sport within the last years. We decided to avoid the queue and continued to our favourite beach at Vitskärsudden where we had to climb over a wall of ice but then we were the only winter bathers. Air: -10 °C, no wind – perfect conditions. Great!
(Photos: Annika Kramer)
We may take another outdoor bath today, but then in the hot water of our friend’s hot tub. I guess this bath could take slightly longer than the previous one.
Christmas eve – Sommarøya and Hillesøy
It’s only 15 km to Sommarøya, a beautiful island reachable by car via a curved bridge. Even in snow fall and twilight you can see the turquoise colour of the sea. Everything is closed, even the hotel.
From there it’s not far to the church Hillesøy kirke, that by the way does not lie on the island Hillesøya but on the mainland. We tried to prebook one of the limited seats for the Christmas service but they where all taken. We are there very early and allowed to have a look in. Eye catcher: the tall wood-burning stove.
We drive back to the cabin – time for lunch while it gets dark outside.
Christmas day – Skitour along the lake Kattfjordvatnet
This day was supposed to be crisp and clear and it was. No clouds, hardly any wind, -10 °C. Perfect conditions for a small ski tour along the lake Kattfjordvatnet. In coastal Sweden we just would have started the tour, in the Norwegian mountains you must check the avalanche risk first. We got round 30 cm of powder snow the last days and the risk was level 3 which is quite high. So a real mountain tour would have been too risky but the terrain by the lake is too flat for avalanches.
And in the early evening we are lucky and get some polar lights. We just have to step outside the door and avoid the motion sensor for the outdoor lighting.
Everything would have been accessible from my apartment in Tromsø as well. Anyhow it feels more like a real holiday to be on a Norwegian mountain cabin over Christmas, just Annika and I. Perhaps we are allowed to use it again sometime.
Today it’s the darkest day of the year, which means, that half of the polar night in Tromsø is over. With the risk of repeating myself, even the darkest day is not dark, especially when it’s a crisp, clear day with a lot of – well no sun – but cloudless sky and warm, colourful light.
No, you couldn’t see the sun, but the direction where it was, because a light pillar created by reflections of ice crystals in the air marked its position.
People where outdoors, not only on land but seaside, too. Two people clad in neoprene doing a long-distance winter swim. Three women paddling and taking a rest at Telegrafbukta. And finally me who after some hesitation took a winter bath. Air temperature -8 °C, water temperature +4 °C, alas no wind. Perfect conditions!
How long it will take until you can see the sun again? Well in Tromsø probably in a month but I’m cheating. In a week Annika and I head to our home in Sweden, where there’ll be at least four hours of sun every day. Beach holiday in the south ;-)
Thanks to a phone conversation with my wife Annika I was wandering around the apartment in Tromsø. I watched Orion rise behind the mountains and a faint something above. The something was a weak polar light. Within short time the aurora intensified and while I was walking to the shore I could see it moving over the whole celestial sphere. When I arrived at the shore some minutes later it already had weakened a lot (so typical!) and the violet parts were gone. Anyhow it was still a beautiful polar light worth being photographed.
It’s always the same: when you wake up in the night and see the polar lights illuminating the sky it doesn’t mean, that you can take good pictures of them. In the time you need to dress, take camera and tripod and walk outside to a nice place it’s likely that they disappear again. Polar lights are shy fellows.
Last night it was the same: I saw a nice aurora from my sleeping room. But when I arrived at the bay Telegrafbukta no distinct aurora was visible anymore.
Anyhow the sky looked a bit pale. Clouds or polar lights? Let’s take a handheld photo with a long exposure. Cl… …ick.
Yes. The sky is definitely green. I set up the tripod, configure the camera and wait.
So I start taking a long expose shot of the sea, the mountains and the lights of Kvaløysletta.
And you can see the polar lights, at least a bit. No surprise because I exposed the photo for 30 seconds with ISO 560 and an exposure of ƒ/3.2. That puts enough light onto the sensor to catch even faint polar lights that are hardly visible to the naked eye. So this is not really an aurora photo, it’s more cheating.
Before I went back to my bed I wanted to take at least one photo with some kind of a motive. It became a shed nearby, illuminated by the moon and again with a faint polar light in the background.
Today I have to go to bed early, I have to catch up on sleep.
This article is part of the series
“2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.
Is the polar light shy? It was quite bright, when I peeked out of the window of my tiny room in Tromsø. It got pale when I took pictures at the bay Telegrafbukta. And it got really bright after that while I was returning home because clouds had been gathering.
Anyhow, it’s the first polar light of the season 2021/22 and therefore worth photographing.
There was another light at least as fascinating as the polar light. Plankton that was washed ashore. This plankton was bioluminescent and glowed blue-turquoise. I have a real ugly photo for the records. When this a common phenomenon I’ll try to take better photos some other time.
If you live in Northern Sweden and love snow, and it rains in the end of February …
… look for the rainbow!
Photographers note: click on the image to get a better version. This photo is not made for jpeg compression.