The Ruskeala Mountain Park is a tourist complex located in the Sortavalsky District of the Republic of Karelia near the village of Ruskeala.The main object of the complex is a former marble quarry filled with groundwater. Quarries were discovered by Pastor Alopeus and began to be developed at...
and wish to 'show off' to you some of what I have done during the past 35 years in my Photography, and thought "Picture of the day" could be a Cassiopaean space to share it with you.
(I love night photography, light painting, impressionistic as well experimental photography... but also "lonely" photos, of things people leave behind in streets, which nobody looks at any longer. Black & White Portraits another classic favorite. I still have an active analog darkroom going, develop color and black & white film, and of course do a lot of digital photography)
Red Northern Lights, Nov 2001
First out is a photo of red Auroras over Stockholm near my favorite "three trees" at the Globe Arena (with far too much light spilling all over the place). At times these auroras covered half of the sky during that larger outbreak 19 years ago. I have not captured any red ones since 2001, just green and pale pink.
Statistically Northern Lights appear over Stockholm every 35 days in average. (Planetary K-Index of 5 is needed for Aurora over Stockholm, while Kiruna in the extreme north, only requires PK 1-2). Northern Italy on the other hand needs PK 10+ and only severe auroral outbreaks can make those visible so far in the south. That was the case on 20 Nov 2003. On that day, the Auroas in Stockholm where the brightest over the south (!) horizon. e.g. the total opposite of what you normally would expect to see.
In reality Auroras over Stockholm are not really that common - sure the statistic say in average every 35 days - but in reality they are more elusive to spot. Sometimes just as a faint glancing bow, barely visible to the naked eye.
Weather is of course a major issue, and so are the bright nights (Maj to July - are too bright up here, you barely see any stars even) Then there is light pollution when you live in a large city, making it even more difficult to spot them. When Auroras are relatively faint, they can look like pale clouds near the horizon...
There is a little trick
you can do, with a digital camera in bad light pollution - not knowing if it is fuzzy clouds or aurora you see:
Take a shot against the area you suspect something (1s to couple seconds). It does not need to be a sharp photo. The idea is to identify the color in what you aim at (usually towards the north horizon): if there are auroras, the digital test photo easily reveals the greenish colors pretty distinctly (while the naked eye doesn't see those colors if the auroas are too weak, or the interfering steet lamps too strong).
If it's just clouds - well those appear usually as just pale yellow in a photo.
Two years later, this photo was made during an extreme outbreak of Northern Lights over Europe (450 GW power) - and already at 17:00 the first auroras started to dance. By 18.00 the entire sky over Stockholm was covered. The fascinating aspect however was - that they were the brightest over the South Horizon which I never had seen before (Normally they appear towards the north horizon).
Since the outbreak was major, the so called Auroral Oval essentially covered large parts of the northern hemisphere, including Europe, and was seen even in Italy (as red auroras). Here from Stockholm, the auroras did not really make a lot of structures like curtains and rays, but were mainly diffuse, kind of glowy.
When it comes to the display of Auroras to the naked eye - they (almost) always look a bit duller - while a camera captures light and colors better, more brilliant.
Later that evening it looked almost as if there where no Auroras left - but the camera revealed that the entire sky had a medium dark dark green diffuse glow still covering the entire sky.
My ex-husband Daniel and drove by car out of Stockholm's glaring lights, in order to spot the naked eye comet C/2011 L4 Panstarrs - and got totally surprised by the arrival of very colorful Northern Lights gracing half of the sky. This went on for about an hour - and then subsided, very sudden to almost no activity was left. (I was so excited and called a friend - but the Northern light simply "switched off" after my call ended - so she wasn't able to spot anything.
We drove southwards, to a second place, located 32 km south of the city - as the Auroras returned anew 1.5 hours later, while it felt ice cold at -11°C / 12°F (being out for several hours). But... it was endlessly beautiful and we had so much fun taking photos, both digitally as well with a big bulky studio camera with analog film *LOL*
Ever since I child in Berlin
I felt that gazing the night sky, watching the stars for longer times, had a special quality; earthly problems paled to a more modest level; diminishing the "aggressiveness" of them insisting to persist (in the mind). While at the same time a sense of tranquility streamed through mind and being, giving a sensation of that things (solutions) are possible.
I never lost that connection.
However - I did sometimes loose the awareness of that potential along the road of this life. The night sky therefore reminds me from time to time, that things which got too stubborn and hard - are in need of flexibility. And what has become too weak and sloppy, needs nutrition (a kind of inspiration) for strengthening. Somehow this "flow of energy" under the night sky aligns these opposites in a surprising intuitive way.
Today I want to show you a few photos of the mighty Etna Volcano. Despite the fact that I have been traveling to Sicily 31 times since 2015 (because my husband Sal lives there - but is now in Stockholm). I never saw any eruption of Etna - except once - in April 2017.
It was an effusive eruption; meaning that just lava flows down the slopes, without any explosive activity going on. Not even ash was falling nor any dark clouds appearing. Only water vapor ("degassing"). And those huge lava streams crawling down the mountain.
Sal lived in a house just a couple hundred meters from the iconic double cone of Monti Rossi, 1.5 km north of Nicolosi - and with direct view towards Etna. The town of Nicolosi marks the last village on your way up to the Etna Rifugio Sapienza (tourist area) at 1900 meter - which you can see in the above photo as a row of lights.
We only drove a little bit up the street (at my first night that vacation) and just watched from afar.... For me, that was such an surreal experience, almost "out of this world-like" - to see a mountain like that in red and orange flames. I have seen "little" Stromboli in action (a island volcano north of Sicily) erupting it's rhythmical lava fountains - but seeing eruptions at the mighty Etna, was truly, deeply impressive.
Well... as I said... just so... unreal... seeing it the first time.
A storm front
brought lots of snow to the mountain, making it standing out even more in night time photos. The mountain did not emit any ash clouds - but thanks to the huge amounts of mainly water vapor reflecting the red light from the large lava streams - created the magic in photos.
I also noticed this phenomena at the Stromboli Volcano earlier - that any kind of clouds or steam - would give that special magic in photos - reflecting the strong red glow from lava. Photos without clouds or steam, turned rather dull. You will meet images from Stromboli very soon because it is another, truly magic place.
A new outbreak
My guy called me from work down in the city of Catania, telling me very excited that there was a new lava outbreak but more towards the east side of the Volcano. So he picked me up at Nicolosi, and then we drove all the way to Milo - watching the lava stream from there. I would say it was the highlight of all nights.
The lava that went down to the left, where in reality car sized glowing boulders falling down the valleys.
Frankly when you watch something like that... there aren't many thoughts. It's just awe; a sense of deep respect and fascinating for nature. I could stand there for hours just watching... My husband Sal who lived in Catania afoot of Etna for nearly 30 years - never looked so much at the volcano other then noticing occasional activity. Even at times with really large eruptions (for example 2002/03) he wouldn't really pay much attention.
But since he met me (being a volcano dude, photographer, star and planet watcher, loving meteorology and clouds... I always have my head in the sky - and love every experience of it !) - he now really looks at Mama Etna with a different mindset; he takes her in, gives her time, sees her beauty, watches the special "crown" clouds, stops the car just looking, dwells and watches her activities, notices nuances and changes with joy and fascination.
It's more like ... really living with the volcano, not just at a volcano.
These are the things that make live experiences a lot richer (regardless location) - as you start noticing your surrounding in greater depth and detail.