October 24, 2011

Hunting the Skies at Night

"We have turned into nightcreatures, hunting alongside foxes and owls in the dark forests, to where the timberline stops. The land turns into a tundra. Snowy mountaintops block our view at the horizon. We walk, we wander. We start climbing the nearest hill for a good overview of the landscape. Under the faint light of cloudy but starlit skies we search for prey and try to capture it with the digital black boxes we carry around our necks. Our senses tell us it's there, yet our eyes are not well adjusted. The moon is full and we hear the distant polar dogs howling, or is it the wolf pack that roams these places.
We point our digital black boxes at the sky to see what happens and all of a sudden they portray a green infinity, of which our instincts told us they were mere clouds. When we look up again we see a bleak, shimmering movement in the air. A faint, yellowish ray slowly dissolves and returns again in a more greenish flame-like form. Are the spirits lighting candles in the abyss at the end of the world?"

 * Some stills from the timelapses we shot. These are unprocessed HDR photos and not yet the final product.

It took us some time, but 4 nights ago our patience paid off. Almost as if by accident, we shot the Aurora Borealis. Because there was not much else to do, we started shooting a beautiful cloud movement in very strong moonlight above a spectacular mountain view. When we looked back at the pictures, we saw a green arc clearly visible across the sky (see first picture above). Our camera was able to see it, but our eyes didn't. Or we did not know what exactly to look for. This was such an exciting moment, we started shooting straight away. Although it still was a cloudy sky, some hours later we began to distinguish these bleak forms from the clouds themselves. We were finally seeing the Lights in the North.

And so for the past couple of days and nights we have been into the wilderness, where there are no distracting city lights. Sleeping in during the morning, driving around and scouting for beautiful scenery to film in during the afternoon. And we've been lucky because the past few nights the skies were pretty clear and the Aurora was visible. Though not as spectacular as we've hoped because of the sun's low activity at the moment (which is what causes the lights). But still we have 5 good sequences now that contain the Aurora and there are some clear nights coming up next week. So tonight we stay at a camping to recharge our batteries and make an overview of the work we've done so far. And of course to keep you posted with this blog.