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2021 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year Winner Showcases Heavenly Images

Published: February 23, 2022
“Forest of the Lights” by Marc Adamus
“Forest of the Lights” by Marc Adamus (Image: Marc Adamus via Capture the Atlas)

The Northern Lights are one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts to the earth.

Most of us rarely get such an opportunity to witness this otherworldly beauty that dances gracefully in the sky. This is because auroras are only visible in certain parts of the world, in remote terrain, away from the city lights; thus hindering most of us from seeing heaven on earth.

But thanks to photographers, the beauty of the polar lights is captured in amazing images and unveiled to the world. One such photographer is the 2021 winner Marc Adamus, who ‘went on an adventure’ in search of northern lights. 

It was no easy feat for Marc to capture such an incredible picture. Marc had to delve into the Alaskan boreal forest, marching to the sound of ice crystals crushing beneath his snowshoes. By the time the sun went down, he had set up his camera. Marc knew he was on the cusp of northern lights of epic proportions, and so he patiently waited for adequate darkness to fall.

“Murmansk”  Russia (Image: Daniel Kordan via Capture the Atlas)

And when it finally did, all the fatigue of his long trip and the massive effort he had taken to get to that point was soon replaced by the feelings of unconfined joy upon witnessing the aurora borealis. Though omnipresent day or night, the phenomenon diminishes in sunlight and is most spectacular in the pitch dark.

As twilight faded, Marc utilized his skill in composition and technique to snap a masterpiece of a picture. He titled it “Forest of the Light” and later submitted it to Capture the Atlas’s 2021 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year.

“Wandering around these forests coated in rime ice is one of the most magical experiences, but also one of the most difficult to capture,” Marc told Capture the Atlas. “Temperatures are often in the minus 30s and negotiating the easily broken, crusty snow on snowshoes with nothing but a headlamp makes for great challenges in hiking and composing.”

The aurora borealis phenomenon is the result of cosmic collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. The subsequent release of photons (light), seen most visibly near the Earth’s polar regions, illuminates gasses in the atmosphere, such as oxygen and nitrogen, giving off a sometimes greenish, reddish, or bluish glow. 

In the effort to inspire more photographers out there to capture sublime scenes and the beauty of nature, the travel blog Capture the Atlas introduced the Northern Lights Photographer of the Year competition. This has seen many photographers go above and beyond to capture some magical shots, be it at arctic boreal forests, landscapes of the far southern hemisphere, erupting volcanoes, mountains, and beaches—all with northern lights dancing overhead.

Recently, Capture the Atlas released a new batch of stunning aurora images for its annual Northern Lights Photographer of the Year compilation, and boy oh boy, they are out-of-this-world!

Life is all about experiences. We may not have the opportunity to witness these otherworldly experiences on the spot, but these photographs certainly give us the platform to enjoy what Mother Nature has bestowed upon our planet, Earth. So sit back, and enjoy these breathtaking otherworldly dancing lights:

“Polar-snow monsters” Kola Peninsula, Russia (Image: Sergey Korolev via Capture the Atlas)
“Narnia” Interior Alaska (Image: Amy J. Johnson via Capture the Atlas)
“When the stars align” Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada (Image: Joshua Snow via Capture the Atlas)
“Aurora Sherbet in the Apostles” Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA (Image: Marybeth Kiczenski via Capture the Atlas)
“The Northern Lights cathedral” Senja, Northern Norway (Image: Frøydis Dalheim via Capture the Atlas)
“Santa’s Cabin” Levi, Finland (Image: Olli Sorvari via Capture the Atlas)
“Aurora Australis” Tasmania, Australia (Image: David Oldenhof via Capture the Atlas)
“Spectrum” Vestrahorn, Iceland (Image: Stefan Liebermann via Capture the Atlas)
“For the Northern Lights” Teriberka, Kolsky District of Murmansk Oblast, Russia (Image: Aleksey R. via Capture the Atlas)
“Norrsken over Vintergatan” Swedish Lapland (Image: Stefano Astorri via Capture the Atlas)