Nordic Living

Hans Petter and Aurora

Long-distance relationships can be difficult. But that’s not the case with Hans Petter and Aurora.

She has waved to him since he was a little boy. She was something of a mystery at first. Now he can’t get enough of her. The energetic and colourful Aurora Borealis.

“When we were small, we were told that the northern lights would take us with them if we waved at them with a white sheet,” says Hans Petter Sørensen.

Aurora never got hold of him. Instead, the photographer from Nesna in northern Norway has been capturing images of her from a distance of around 100 kilometres for many years. To the delight of those who follow him on Instagram and Facebook. People who long to see the northern lights just once in real life. There are a lot of them around the world.

A streak of green, a distinct shape – a kind of pattern that makes it possible to place it in relation to its surroundings. That’s what I like working with.

Hans Petter Sørensen got his first camera as a confirmation gift. Now he hunts for nature’s own designs.

There is huge interest and fascination in the northern lights. So beautiful. So dramatic. The source of myths and legends, admiration, fear and superstition: Is it the breath of fallen warriors, the souls of old maidens or the dead? Light reflecting off the armour of Valkyries, Valkyries on the way to Valhalla? There is undoubtedly some amazing physics involved.

“The northern lights appear in many shapes and colours. It is this unpredictability that attracts me,” explains the photographer.

They’ve met on numerous occasions. No two encounters are ever alike. So you never tire of them. Electrons and protons colliding with the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere and crystallising into visual celebrations in the northern hemisphere, which is precisely the type of celebration Hans Petter wants to be part of.

“You know what a sunrise or a sunset will be like. The northern lights are always unique and challenging.  They change all the time. They aren’t just green; they can be blue, yellow, or blood red. The northern lights are so extraordinary that they can be quite overwhelming, but it’s not always the northern lights at their most violent that interests me. A streak of green, a distinct shape – a kind of pattern that makes it possible to place it in relation to its surroundings. That’s what I like working with. Lines, patterns, graphic elements in the mountains when the first snow falls, shape and structure.”

It’s a very special feeling to stand under an enormous sky with the light from a head torch as your only company. Sensing the contrast between the small and the large.

A picture says more than a thousand words. That’s lucky for a dyslexic obsessed with photography. What Hans Petter cannot convey in words, he conveys with his pictures, of people and nature. Many of the motifs in his work are from Helgeland and he has a passion for Lofoten further north. And he dreams of Iceland and other continents he would love to photograph.

“For a while now there has been a lot of nature, night and the northern lights. I really like being out at night. And when I’m working with pictures, I’d rather be alone. To be surrounded by the dark, in my own little world. It’s a very special feeling to stand under an enormous sky with the light from a head torch as your only company. Sensing the contrast between the small and the large. And I absolutely MUST have the peace and quiet it brings. I also have to rein myself in so I don’t become manically obsessed with it. Too happy in solitude. It’s probably a professional obsession, but it’s also a good obsession.”

Judging yourself is hard. And Hans Petter is a tough judge who compares himself with the best in the world. Photography trips are carefully planned – he seldom heads off without a clear goal.

It’s great to get feedback from all over the world.

“I want to take pictures that nobody else has ever taken before. But it’s difficult to be unique nowadays. There are so many people doing such incredible things. At the same time social media and the bombardment of images provide plenty of inspiration. And where I live, Helgeland, is a unique area. Very few people have actually been here. Not all the pictures have been taken. We get a lot of weather, and a lot of weather means a lot of great light if you have time to wait for the right moments. That’s also when you get the intense experiences.”

And waiting is something Hans Petter is good at. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. There have been many wasted journeys with his Canon equipment and drone. He has been on 40-kilometre skating trips on sheer ice hunting for a photograph.

“If you want to take pictures of the northern lights, you need to be in the right position. Not when you see them, but before. I stay up to date with reports on the northern lights so that I can capture the dramatic scenes and get the elements I want in the picture.  That requires a lots of hours. But I enjoy it! The work afterwards gives me as much pleasure as the trip itself. It’s always good to come home. And it’s great to get feedback from all over the world. Of course I want my pictures to have an audience. It’s a privilege to experience these things, but it’s also important to remember that getting out there is free. Nature is there for all of us.

A lot of people travel far to catch a glimpse of the astonishing northern lights, but with Nord you don’t have to travel further than to your own home. The mat’s organic pattern in beautiful shades of green and blue recreate the magical sight of the aurora borealis at your doorstep every day.

Nord is designed by Magnus Voll Mathiassen.

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