Adobe Creative Cloud

Story Behind The Image: Wanderlust

Adobe Stock contributor Jamen Percy is the photographer behind our first “Story Behind the Image,” a new series on the Creative Cloud blog. The image, Aurora Borealis reflected between two fjords in Tromsø, is a stunning, hypnotizing, and spellbinding shot of the Northern Lights. Jamen explains the inspiration, motivation and technique behind capturing such a dramatic photo:

Wanderlust, n.—the strong desire or impulse to travel and explore the world.

The journey to this image started there, many years ago:

Photographer Jamen Percy on location.

As a younger soul, I had flown very far from the nest. I found myself in a whole new world where every day was an adventure. Growing more eager and daring every day, I finally took the plunge and I invested in a new camera and headed to the Arctic Circle to see the mystical Northern Lights—which I still dispelled as can’t be real.

As soon as I landed in Tromsø, Norway, my local aurora guide came and picked me up. After studying his weather map we drove straight inland to Finland for clear skies. Still in disbelief, I stood there waiting, at -30 degrees with completely frozen toes and my camera pointing up at the starry night. Then, it happened.

What looked like a large greenish cloud started to form above me. Suddenly it grew larger, it became a giant arc across the sky from horizon to horizon, giving me the tremendous feeling of scale. It burst into an array of bright, sharp green, white and magenta shards of light—dancing, curling, and exquisitely rippling above me. I was in utter shock. I frantically took pictures, changing my angle and position with every picture as it swirled and transcended down. My toes had become warm, fueled by adrenaline and excitement.

I remember waking up early the morning after and looking on the camera just to check that it wasn’t a dream. Since then, I have been back every season to capture the aurora, a true Aurora Chaser at heart. Over time I’ve perfected my techniques in photographing and chasing the aurora.

For Northern lights I always go as wide angle as possible, as the arc is usually so large you can never get it all in—and you want that epic scale to come across in the image. With a large aperture of f/2.8 I can get a good depth of field as well as a good volume of light into the camera so I can keep my ISO levels down. I used the Carl Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 for the ultimate image sharpness.

I now run a small aurora tour guide company myself, and every time I return and see it, not only do I see the seventh wonder of the natural world dancing above me, but it reminds me of where all my adventures first began. With the desire to travel more and more, I had to help fund it, so I began selling the images on Adobe Stock, and I’ve never looked back…

Follow Jamen’s adventures on his Instagram, or book a tour with Aurora Chasers and have him show you how to photograph the aurora.

A big thank you to Jamen for sharing his Story behind The Image. Discover more of his amazing images in his Adobe Stock portfolio.

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