The image was one from a project I was working on which was dedicated to photographing two athletes – Aline Bock and Lena Stoffel – who had travelled to the Loftofen Islands to surf the icy waters. The two Arctic surfers are driven by their fascination for the sport and also the unspoiled nature, beauty, harshness, and unpredictability of the Arctic.
But the project became much more than just a reportage about Arctic surfing, this assignment gave me an opportunity to develop a visual exploration of the relationship between humans and the extreme environment.
This photo was taken just before midnight. The temperature was close to freezing and Aline and Lena are pictured admiring the Northern Lights over the Hopsfjorden fjord, on the island of Austvågøy. This beautiful fjord has placid, but icy water, where you can easily paddle and admire the snowy mountains all around.
On this evening I was following Aline and Lena as they were walking around the fjord, when I noticed them standing in this position. I realised that with the backdrop of the fjord, mountains and of course, the Northern Lights, it would be a great image. So I set up my Sony Alpha 7R III with the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens. I did everything I could to maximise the amount of visible light I could capture, and I set the lens aperture to f/3.5 and used a high sensitivity of ISO 12,800. These settings allowed me to let light in whilst maintaining a good depth of field and image sharpness, and of course I used a tripod to keep the camera perfectly still. Then I asked the two surfers to stay still whilst the exposure was made.
It was interesting to get the shot as, despite being at night, the snow acted as a giant reflector for the faint light coming from the sky, and also from the village houses in the distance.
Shooting such an image would have been virtually impossible just a few years ago, before camera like the Sony Alpha 7R III existed. The 42.4-million-pixel sensor makes such a difference, offering both incredible detail and the ability to have a very clean and noise free image, even when you are shooting at such a high sensitivity settings. It has allowed me to take some great images for the project, that capture not only the surfers, but the breathtaking landscapes, stunning fjords, and mind-blowing scenery.
"To me photography represents an ideal tool for exploration. A way to discover the world, others and more of myself"