WPY 2012

Photograph Details

Winner 2012


Thilo Bubek, Germany

Aurora over ice

Thilo packed a flask of hot tea and a sleeping bag and reindeer skin for his friend to sit on and set off for Kvaløya Island, some 30 kilometres from the city of Tromsø in northern Norway, to watch for auroras. It was February, and the temperature was -17°C. The moon shone high in the sky and illuminated the landscape all around as Thilo walked out onto the frozen lake at Kattfordeide, and set up his tripod. At first, he saw only tiny auroras in the distance. But as the evening wore on, the dancing lights moved closer, until eventually they flashed in vast, dramatic luminous arcs across the sky. ‘Auroras move fast, and so I chose a fairly high ISO to capture six images quickly and create a panorama,’ says Thilo. The aurora borealis (or northern lights) phenomenon occurs when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, miles above the surface of the Earth. The colour varies depending on the nature of the atom (green is oxygen) and the altitude at which the reaction happens.

Technical specification

Nikon D3 + 14-24mm f2.8 lens at 17mm; 3 sec at f2.8; ISO 1600; Berlebach UNI 15 tripod + FLM 58 ball head; Nikon Capture NX2, stitched with PTGui Pro 8.

Kattfordeide, Norway: latitude 69.6561, longitude 18.5077 Kattfordeide, Norway: latitude 69.6561, longitude 18.5077

Kattfordeide, Norway

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