Solar Maximum in Lofoten with Dave Williams

Words and Photos by Dave Williams- A Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

"From the edge of a clifftop on the road to Henningsvær in Lofoten, Arctic Norway, I carefully set up my Platypod eXtreme, with the Platyball Elite supporting my Nikon Z 6 camera. The thrill of capturing the aurora dancing in the northern skies as we approached the end of the season was palpable."

"The Platypod Ecosystem is indeed perfect for capturing the northern lights whilst on the move. But I don’t want to spend time trying to convince you of something so obvious. Instead, I aim to provide you with valuable insights if the northern lights are on your bucket list."

Here's what you need to know:
"Solar maximum. It’s a term that’s no doubt popped up somewhere in your social media feed in one form or another. Perhaps you’ve seen a viral video claiming that this year's aurora will be 'the best ever,' or maybe you’ve seen solar heliographs showing how active the sun is this year. While there’s some truth in this, it’s definitely being used as a tool for hype, so here’s the truth."

"Solar maximum is the peak of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle regarding the number of sunspots. Sunspots can cause auroras that can be visible in our skies, but they are by no means the only factor or the best factor. The aurora is driven by solar wind and coronal mass ejections. Different types of solar activity, happening at various strengths, can cause different events to happen here in the skies. We can have an aurora that dances wildly or incredible, rare colors in the aurora, but different events cause these two things. It’s far more common to have an arc of aquamarine light in the north."

"What's more, it’s impossible to predict with any certainty more than about an hour before the activity, and anything beyond a three-day forecast is, quite frankly, a wild guess. The reason for this is all down to science. The polarity and strength of the solar wind combined with the hemispheric pressure and the disturbance index are perhaps the most critical metrics. Still, many others play a role, including the density and solar wind speed."

"Therefore, 2024 may be a good year for Aurora, but there’s no such thing as a bad year. It all comes down to the cards we’re dealt on the night and the clear skies we can find. My best advice for anyone with aurora high on their bucket list is to increase their odds by being in the right place for the longest possible time and having the right gear to capture it in its best light. Aurora photography is unique, and the settings are constantly changing because every show is different. A wide aperture, high ISO, and a shutter speed of at least a few seconds will give you a great baseline from which to make changes, and, of course, a solid platform is required. That’s where the Platypod Ecosystem comes in to help provide you with perfect stability."

To view more of Dave Williams work, you can find him on our YouTube Channel and you can also visit his Instagram or Website. If you go to the Workshops tab you'll learn how you can join Dave at his next workshop.




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