Like a prolonged sunset and sunrise all at once, the midnight sun colours heaven and earth in a reddish yellow light.
It’s tempting to wonder about all the sights and experiences that have been made under the midnight sun through the ages – by people living off the sea at the Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelagos, or the Sami reindeer herders of the far north.
The phenomena has at least made a lasting impression on several Norwegian artists and writers. This excerpt is from Knut Hamsuns Pan (1894): “Night was coming on again; the sun just dipped into the sea and rose again, red, refreshed, as if it had been down to drink. I could feel more strangely on those nights than anyone would believe” ...
The earth is rotating at a tilted axis relative to the sun, and during the summer months the North Pole is angled towards our star. That’s why, for several weeks, the sun never sets above the Arctic Circle.
Going there, you can live these moments yourself: Doing a whale safari, or exploring the wilderness inland, takes on a new dimension at night in the summer months, when you literally get to see the nature and wildlife in a different light.
If you’re not afraid of the sometimes chilly summer nights in the north, you could try a midnight swim – or you can pitch your tent in the wild and stay up while the sun doesn’t go down. Many sights and activities are open at night during these weeks, so you can do midnight golfing, cycling, river paddling or sea kayaking, or maybe just find a quiet spot to fish.
If you travel to the arctic islands of Svalbard, the sun doesn’t set between April and late August. Here you can do a midnight walk on a glacier or look at the reddish sky from a moving dogsled, experiencing the unique climate and nature near the North Pole.
The golden glow is what many people remember most about their midnight sun experiences. This tends to accentuate colours and elongate shadows, which provides plenty of scope for dramatic and expressive photography.
Tip 1: Since colours are more vivid in the midnight sun, it is a good idea to keep images simple, concentrating on two or three colours at the most to avoid a confusing image for the viewer.
Tip 2: Foreground images can be used to frame subjects in mid and deep field, creating a better sense of three-dimensionality.
Tip 3: To maximize the impact of the light sky on a landscape, compose your picture in the viewfinder by keeping the horizon a third of a way from the bottom; this will help your camera to expose properly.
Tip 4: Sign up for a six-day photography course and half board tour of the Lofoten Islands is offered by UK travel specialist Tatra.
Tip 5: If you are in the Lyngen Alps, consider the midnight sun photography courses at Lyngen Lodge.
You want to see both the legendary fjords and the midnight sun, but only have one week. With a bit of smart planning, it can absolutely be done.
There are no clear boundaries between one day and the next in the Norwegian north during summer. These are the best places to experience the midnight sun.