This was it. Our big chance to see the Northern Lights, the Aurora Bourealis. According to the website, www.vedur.is, there would be a good chance to see them. The cloud cover was predicted to lift for the most part by 10 PM and the activity scale showed moderate so we could expect something but I had no idea what.
We've all seen those fantastic pictures of the aurora but I had no idea what to expect when we would be viewing them with the naked eye. And then there was my nervousness over what settings my camera should be on. I'd of course researched it and found suggestions: set your lens to infinity, ISO at 400, Fstop at 4.0 and shutter speed should be between 15-30 seconds. Of course a tripod and a delayed shutter were essential as well to steady the camera.
Another breath-holding trip thru the one lane tunnel at about 10 PM and we found our turnoff spot, pulled in and parked. Bob turned to me and even in the dark I could see the twinkle in his eye. "Just like the old days, huh?" Sure.
I got out and set up my tripod, attached the camera and took a picture to the west where the horizon was still light from the setting sun even though it had set at around 8:30. It was amazing how long the light lingered.
The warmth of the day however faded quickly and I was beginning to hop on one foot then the other and decided to get back in the car. The only problem we had was that we couldn't figure out how to turn off the dashboard lights so we could see more clearly. Bob finally found a switch and except for opening and closing the door to get in and out we could keep the light from ruining our view.
Not too long past 10 we suddenly saw the wisp of a cloud that just appeared from nowhere. It looked a bit greenish and we both said, "Is that it?"
Sure enough, the wisp got bigger and began to curl in the sky. I jumped out and started taking pictures. You cannot begin to imagine my joy when I saw the first picture appear on my screen and knew that I was getting this recorded.
As I watched I realized that a few nights ago when I'd thought I'd seen a reflection from town lights on the clouds it had really been the Northern Lights. Oh, if only I'd gotten up and out that night. Each time the lights faded and reappeared it started out as if it was a wispy cloud or a jet trail. Then it would curl, get brighter, curl again, disappear and reappear and sometimes in several spots at once.
I stood outside until I got cold and the lights faded then jumped back in the car. When we would see them start up again, I'd be back out hoping to catch a spectacular show. We stayed until around 11:30 when we got tired and cold and it seemed to be fading again.
The show was good but I'm sure it gets more spectacular than what we saw. Still, I had my Northern Lights experience and pictures to prove it. I was a happy camper!