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In DitoGear™ Spotlight #17 we are sharing an exceptional phenomenon of appearing Aurora Borealis above Abisko National Park and Swedish Lapland, captured by Peter Rosén.
And what’s your latest project? Share your interesting stories in the next spotlight.
The effect is caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the upper atmosphere.
Natalia Brzakala : Peter, could you please describe a desirable circumstances for shooting Aurora Borealis?
Peter Rosén: It must be a dark place with no light pollution and no or only a few clouds. You need to have a clear sky since the Aurora is on altitudes of 70-160 km height.
Abisko in Swedish Lapland is very good in that term since Abisko is the driest place in the entire Sweden and the likelihood to see and photograph the Aurora over the dark season is 70% every night.
NB: When did you decide to create this time-lapse project and what was the main reason for it?
PR: I produced my first Aurora time lapse sequence 14 years ago using slide film and did my first movie mainly based on still images more than 10 years ago. But it was too time-consuming to put all slides in perfect fit for a time lapse. With the digital world it has become much easier and 4 years ago I produced my first Aurora time lapse from a digital camera. The outcome was so nice so I decided to continue the work and make a film. An extra dimension to the film was when I decided to use the DitoGear™ equipment for nice moves.
Main factors of creating this project are both passion for the Aurora as well as great interest of tourists. Thanks to the beauty of Swedish Lapland and appearing Aurora Borealis it’s quite easy to sell Aurora products around the Abisko area.
NB: What were your criteria for selecting the right location for shooting Aurora?
PR: All images were taken in Abisko and Kiruna, Swedish Lapland. I have been living there since 1999 so I know the area well enough to choose the most amazing locations.
To me the foreground is very important for the image and I always go to a nice place first and wait for the Aurora to appear. That means that I have spent many thousands of hours underneath the stars.
I also like shooting in a place with open water to get the Aurora mirroring in the water. Quite often I like to combine the Aurora with an enlightened Sámi tipi tent or anything else to intensify the Arctic feeling.
NB: I read that you organise the photography courses which are quite popular worldwide. Was it difficult to balance work with creating the project?
PR: The advantage with time lapse is that I can start the camera and let it go while I instruct my guests. In that way I get thousands of hours underneath the night sky which would not be possible otherwise and that enables me to capture the most beautiful auroras on film. Of course I’m not as flexible to choose new locations every night but I always bring my guests to places I love which means that both myself and my guests get happy with the images we capture.
NB: When is your busiest time of the year?
PR: My busiest time of the year is certainly from Christmas until mid March due to the greatest visibility of the Aurora. During the season I get only a several nights off because of so many guests from all over the world. I employed two other photographers last winter to manage all photo guiding and this upcoming winter I will have four photographers available for guiding.
NB: Did the excessive number of tourists had a negative impact on creating this project?
PR: I would say no. I love to have enthusiastic guests around me. And when we get to see a great Aurora I get as excited as my guests and start my cameras so they run automatically. I can sometimes work with as many as 4 cameras at the same time.
NB: What were main issues encountered in the project? How did you manage to deal with them?
PR: The mistake I did at the beginning was to use too long shutter speed. In the final production the Aurora wasn’t smooth and the motion from the OmniSlider was too slow. So I increased the ISO to 6400-10000 to keep a shutter speed of 1 sec. That gave much better result.
Once, when I was working close to water the OmniSlider got wet and everything froze immediately. I had to dry it up to be able to use it again. From that moment I always take a reindeer skin to put my equipment on it.
NB: What DitoGear™ products did you use in this production?
PR: I mainly used the DitoGear™ OmniSlider 1.0 m with the OmniController because it was really easy to use it in the cold and dark environment.
I am also planning to use the DitoGear™ OmniHead in my future projects but I need more time to learn how to use it with the OmniSlider more effectively.
NB: What is your experience regarding the DitoGear™ equipment?
PR: I’m very happy with the DitoGear™ equipment. I have now used it for more than one year and I’m especially content that it works so fine even at temperatures down to -30 degrees Celsius. The equipment is very stable and run smoothly which is extremely important for nice film sequences.
NB: Are you currently working on any other project?
PR: I’m continuing to make a longer Aurora film but I’m also working on one about the midnight sun. The lights in the summertime are also very beautiful.
NB: Peter, Thank you very much for finding time to share your work with us. I hope to see more of your Aurora shots in the nearest future. Good luck with the upcoming projects!