Monday, 19 March 2012

Northern Lights in Tromso

Tromso Cathedral
I was recently given the opportunity to fly to Tromso to experience the Northern Lights in Northern Norway. There is never a guarantee that the aurora borealis will play fair and come out to play, but I was hopeful and set out with a DSLR, tripod and the instruction manual for the camera.

The flight to Tromso was with SAS via Oslo departing from Heathrow early in the morning with a quick connection in Oslo (where incidentally it is necessary to collect your luggage and re-checkin for the onward domestic flight) and by lunchtime I was gazing at the beautiful snowy landscape as we were on the final approach into Tromso.

The bus transfer into Tromso cost 90NOK return (about £10) and we were dropped outside the Rica with a short 100m walk to the Hotel With where we were booked into. The Hotel With is not the most attractive building from the outside, but it has an amazing position overlooking the harbour and serves waffles and cream in the afternoon! It also provides a basic evening meal as part of the deal - useful as Norway can be expensive to eat out. This is not meant to be a half board option but an opportunity to ensure that food is available if it is wanted. Odd way of looking at it, but the other hotel guests seemed to be happy enough.

Having been up early in the morning to drive to Heathrow we were not really of the mind to set out searching for the Northern Lights, but as our time was short we duly looked at our pre-booked vouchers and set our for the meeting point to go on a taster dog sledding session whilst peering into the sky for the Northern Lights - or at least that was the idea ! Dog sledding is rather like driving a car on skis, in the you need to pay attention to everything that is going on around you while maintaining your balance (and dignity).

The Northern Lights were spectacular that night (4th March) but it was a shame I couldn't take photos - though as I'd not taken the time to read the manual yet I suspect my photos would have looked very much like some of the others which I saw that night ...... black !!!

Speaking to the more experienced photographers it seems that the tripod is a necessity, with a long exposure (10-30 seconds) and a high ISO. I lost it at the ISO stage but thanked them warmly for their advice.

Husky Mushing in Tromso
The husky mushing was great fun though being a taster session it was soon over and we were back to a Kota (or Lavu) for a basic warm meal before transferring back to Tromso by bus, not before seeing the final dance of the Aurora before the clouds obscured the stars and any further chances of seeing more solar activity.

What would the next day have in store for us ........

Location:Tromso, Norway

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Can your smartphone survive the cold

Having just returned from yet another trip to Northern Finland I experienced a few issues with my iPhone and Android companions which complained against the cold.  Battery life on smartphones is not knonwn to be that good and the cold exasperated the condition.  I often wondered why all the local guides seemed to have "old" Nokia phones in their pockets and this got me wondering which phones were the best for the cold temperature.

A quick Google and I cam up with the following webpage Sub-Zero Weather and Smartphones.  Quite interesting to see which phones fared the best.

If you've got the latest iPhone then perhaps you should keep it warm !!