Let the Show Begin. Act One.

comments 49
Landscape / Photo Log / Photography


January 28, 2020, 11:26 p.m. — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

Things remained as they were for a while. Taking advantage of the lull, I walked about fifty meters off from the rest of the group for a quiet moment, and as I gazed off the east, Thor hit the light switch. It wasn’t a fade up. It was snap and full-on. I was transfixed by the slow weaving of the sheets of light. Riveted. Mesmerized. Motionless.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I went galumphing back to my camera as fast as the crampons on my feet would allow. Regaining my breath and composure, I recomposed my frame, dialed the ISO sensitivity down to 1250, clicked, and waited out the ten-second exposure, which took forever.

The first shot was a perfectly exposed glob of green blob blur. I’d been leaning on my tripod — obviously not having fully regained my composure — and it slipped. This is the second shot.

As a side note, here is an example of Mother Nature doing things her own way: In most dramatic productions, the curtain rises at the start of the show; with the Aurora Borealis, the curtain falls.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. f/2.8, 10 sec, ISO 1250. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Fantastic, Michael. It’s overwhelming, every time this nature show goes on stage. It’s has a dreamy, unreal atmosphere, so well captured.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An acquaintance who lived on a houseboat in Yellowknife, NW Territories, often recorded the auroras, and her experience was that when they’re really active, time-lapse isn’t necessary. The effect of billowing curtains can be captured on video. This lecture on space sounds is altogether fascinating, but there’s a section on the northern lights’ sounds that begins at 17:23. I was quite taken with the thought that black holes hum along in B-flat.

    I’ve been trying to remember how far south friends have seen them, and I think the closest they’ve come to me is Kansas. I’m so glad you got to see them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I’m learning more and more. I will view this video as soon as possible. I briefly saw the northern lights in the Finger Lakes region of New York State about 15 years ago. Regarding video and time lapse, this particular photograph was taken at ISO 1250 and it was a 10 second exposure. I suppose I could have done video at a much higher ISO, but the image quality would’ve been unacceptable to me. Black holes humming at B-flat – that’s a favorite key for the blues so would we have black and blues? Sorry. Couldn’t resist it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. I cannot recommend Iceland highly enough. Not only do we have the Arora in winter, waterfalls year-round, amazing Blacksand beaches – we also have possibly the friendliest country in the entire world.


  3. This certainly one heck of a bang on first shot, Mike. Love everything about it. Great color, stars and a good foreground pleasing but dimly lit as it should be and reflecting the show above.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much. I’ve been comparing these to Aurora shots by others, and it is apparent that I chose to make mine darker. I usually go for dram effect more than realism, but in this case, I think these are more dramatic and more realistic. However, I was showing these to friends at a party, displaying the bog on my phone, and I gotta say, these are pretty dark. In my defense, if needed, I ain’t never shot no Aurora before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you tend a little bit towards the dark side at times…no, not “that” dark side…so this didn’t seem overly dark or underexposed to me. Of course I wasn’t there so no way to judge but by your comments. I enjoyed it just as you presented it and I wasn’t the only one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I saw some that were brighter but others not that far removed from yours. If you want them brighter can you not make them so? I’ve never shot them so don’t know about processing the light but maybe that could be done without too much distortion.

        Liked by 1 person

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