Tag Archives: Aurora

Photo Challenge

Image-01-6John, a family friend who writes a blog about his travels around Europe, has just challenged me (amongst others) to come up with four photos that represent the ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water.  As is usual with such things, I am supposed to nominate five other people to continue the challenge but I won’t be doing that as I appreciate the power of geometric progressions (it takes surprisingly few iterations before the entire population of the earth has been included).  I have however, come up with some images and as a nod to the theme of John’s blog (http://continentalbreakfasttravel.com/), they are all photos I took traveling around Europe.  So here we go …

Air

Travelling to Holland on the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, I went up on deck at daybreak to watch as we passed into the mouth of the Rhine.  It was a very still morning and air pollution over the city beyond made for a spectacular sunrise.  Air pollution and a becalmed wind farm; it seemed ironic to me.

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Earth

I noticed this man walking slowly along the rows of gravestones in a small war cemetery in Ypres and wondered whether he was looking for the name of a relative.  We visited several military cemeteries on that trip and I found the experience very moving.

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Water

We spent a delightful couple of days in Bruges one winter.  I know that many people think of the place as false as there are so many buildings where the medieval facade only has been preserved with the remainder being modern, but I loved the place.  I struggled however, to take a photo that encapsulated the place for me.  Then I saw Julie waiting patiently on a bridge over a canal and took this shot which is the image that I always think of when Bruges crops up in conversation.

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Fire

I struggled with this element I’m happy to admit.  I know that the aurora is not fire of course and I also know that for many Brits the term “Europe” in this context is usually taken to mean “mainland Europe” but regardless, this is the image that I’ve chosen.  I had been house-sitting in Shetland for several weeks and my friends had returned so I was soon to leave for my journey back down south.  The weather was overcast as we sat down to dinner when I said “ all I need now is for the clouds to clear and an aurora to show”.  An hour later I was outside watching this amazing display of what Shetlanders call the merry dancers.  It may be taking place high in the upper atmosphere and it may have nothing to do with fire but it certainly warmed my heart.

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The merry dancers

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We had an absolutely wonderful aurora display last night.  Not only was there the full curtain effect but it extended right overhead and well into the southern sky.  This was the view straight up.

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The waves of light were flickering and moving across the sky so quickly that long exposure photos could never capture the spectacle; what Shetlanders call “the merry dancers”.  But after a while I just stopped taking photos anyway, caught up in the magnificent  free show that nature was putting on.  What a wonderful end to my time up here in the far north.

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Aurora

Half past eleven on 7th February 2014: my first ever photo of an aurora!  I’m going to find it hard to sleep tonight.

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I’m going to have to get myself an ultra wide angle lens; it’s only half there.

And another take in the early hours. Sleep is impossible when I have a show like this.

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And now the show is over.  :-(

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