Vero - The True Social App? What and Why?

This is dedicated to Vero - my new love ๐Ÿ˜

As you may know, I've been a regular user of Instagram for a couple of years now. And there are so many things about Instagram that I love.

Not only do I get to share my own photos, so that they won't just be stored away on my hard drive, never to be seen again. But one of my favorite things about Instagram has always been seeing other people's pictures.

And I was one of the many who absolutely hated it when Instagram changed the feed from chronological to... well, whatever it is at the moment.

Since they made it much more difficult to see all posts by the people I followed, I tried to counter it by following fewer accounts, and by following accounts who don't post many pictures a day.

Because for me, one of the best things used to be that no matter how "popular" or big your account was, your pictures were equally important to the ones who have thousands or millions of followers.

Now, sadly, it seems like you have to pay to get noticed on Instagram. And after resent changes to how tags are displayed, I've stopped my daily ritual of looking through some of my favorite tags to see if I could find new people that I felt deserved some love and attention.

Basically they've made it so hard to find all the start-ups and smaller accounts that they've taken away a major part about what I loved - motivating everyone to keep on sharing their content and their parts of the world.

To those who worry after this long rant, no, I'm not going to leave Instagram. I love all my active followers there, and all the people I follow. Your pictures and words always make me smile. Thank you for being such amazing people!

But I have been looking for an alternative to Instagram for about a year now. Even to a point where I asked my dad if he could program an app ๐Ÿ˜‚

My Vero account - I Could Live Here

And then I heard of Vero. As soon as I downloaded the app and started playing around with it, something clicked.

It's exactly what I've been missing from a social app. Everyone is equal. Your posts stand on their own, and they've promised not to introduce ads or algorithms. So I'm in love!

It is funny though, after I've started talking about the app, I've been warned against using it. Some people claim that Vero takes ownership of your pictures and content. But have a look at their Terms of Use (section 2, User Content), and you will see that they clearly state that your content belongs to you.

I've also heard lots of rumors about Vero's CEO. But maybe this article will make you think twice about those rumors?

I, for one, wish this app welcome with open arms and eyes. And you should of course make a decision of whether or not you'd like to use it based on your own research. But I would certainly be very happy to see you there!

If you do join Vero, be sure to let me know, and I will follow back.

And remember, I'll be sharing a lot of pictures and videos from my mystery trip to paradise there ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒ๐ŸŒž

With this rant, I wish you a wonderful week!

The One Month Countdown

Not my photo. This was blatantly stolen from the hotel website. Credit will come.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I've been dropping hints about some mystery trip.

Since the trip is exactly one month away today, I figured I'd write a short blog post about it.

Everything is not 100% sorted yet, so I will not disclose where I'm going. But maybe you care to make a guess?

The picture above is from the hotel I'll be staying at. And as I've said on Instagram (and as you probably can guess from the picture), the destination is a tropical place. I'd even go as far as to say it's a piece of paradise on Earth!

Though the destination is not known for star photography, I do hope the weather will be clear enough for me to get some shots of the Milky Way, as there should be little to none light pollution around the area.

And I cannot wait to get there, take lots of pictures and videos, and share the whole journey with you guys. I will be very active on both Instagram and Vero during the trip, making many updates a day. So be warned, you will be spammed. I'll even try to do some live videos through Instagram.

I'll also be blogging, and at the end of the trip, I'll make a video of the whole trip. If you want to follow my journey to paradise, make sure you follow my blog, Instagram and Vero (I Could Live Here)!

The blog will be updated frequently for the next month. So make sure you check back ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒž

Into The Woods

Clouds reflection lake

“It would seem from this fact, that man is naturally a wild animal,
and that when taken from the woods,
he is never happy in his natural state,
'till he returns to them again.”
Benjamin Rush

As you walk through the forest, finding your own paths, you come to a small clearing looking out across a small lake.

You close your eyes, take a deep breath and just stand there, completely still for a few minutes. And your mind and body feels start to feel lighter, almost as though the nature around you is flowing through your veins, calming down your mind and decreasing your heart rate.

The smell of damp moss and pine trees fill your nose. The soft forest floor makes you feel lighter. You put your hand on the trunk of a pine tree, take a deep breath and feel the bark against your skin.

Fallen pine tree
The recent storm knocked down quite a few
of the pine trees in "our" forest.
For a while it feels like silence is surrounding you, taking you far away from all the noise of a busy city life. But after a while you start noticing the song of nature.

The birds singing, looking for a mate. The breeze flowing through the tree tops. A crack of a stick as some wild animal moves closer. 

And there's a strange sound, almost like thousands of pieces of glass being thrown together. You open your eyes to see what it is. Only to find out it's the ice breaking on the lake.

The small waves are crushing it into tiny pieces, slowly undressing the water for spring.

You feel at one with nature, taking it all in. And for a while you are filled with an almost unexplainable sense of happiness.

I must say I'm lucky to live in a place where I can have experiences like the one above every single day ๐Ÿ‘ง

It's been a long week, one of those weeks that just fly by, drowned in work and society. But I have still taken time to relax, disconnect, and get out into nature. After all, one can't expect to summit mountains without being in good shape.

In between some indoor climbing, and climbing our little mountain top, the dog and I have had some nice hikes through the forests. It is where I come to unwind, to think, and to plan.

So far it looks like I'll be aiming to summit Kilimanjaro in September or October this year. I'll keep you updated on the planning process as it comes along.
Clouds reflection lake

For now, I wish you a wonderful week. Remember to go outside and connect with nature, even if (or especially if) your schedule is hectic.

PS. This was a repost. I had originally posted this before I took down the whole page. I still hope you have time to go out and enjoy nature.
And as always, if you like my pictures and content, you may want to give my Instagram account a follow. I try to put up a daily post.

The Old House

The Old House - One of my favorite motifs under the northern lights

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen a few pictures of this old house. It is one of my favorite motifs, and I used to live about one kilometer (less than a mile) away from this house, so it was easy for me to go there to take pictures when the sky was clear.

The house, which is part of a small farm called Bogatunet, consists of three parts, and the oldest part was built around year 1600. After the people who lived there moved out in 1905, the house has been restored, and it is now a museum.

Since I moved to the city earlier this year, I had not been back to visit this house, as it is located about one hour's drive north of the city center. But last week, I was contacted by ร…se, who I know through a photography group. She was interested in visiting a few of the places from my pictures, and I was happy to give her the tour.

After visiting a couple of the spots by the ocean where I've taken many of my pictures, like the one above of my dog, we stopped by Bogatunet. And even though there were no northern lights that night, we both ended up getting some nice shots.

The moon lit up the landscape, and even though it outshone most of the stars, we were still able to capture some of the brightest ones.

One of the things I was very happy with, was capturing "The Big Dipper" (also known as "The Plough", which you can see above the house in the upper right hand corner of the picture.

"The Big Dipper" consists of the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major. The "handle" is defined by the three stars Alkaid, Mizar and Alioth, and the "body" is defined by the four stars Megrez, Dubhe, Phecda and Merak.

If you'd like to learn more about "The Big Dipper", you should check out this article on Wikipedia.

ร…se and I ended up having a lovely evening, and I highly recommend you check out her Instagram account.

And as always, if you'd like to see more of my pictures, I try to put up a daily post on Instagram. Should you have any questions about for example photography, northern lights or traveling to Norway, I'm happy to help you. So just comment below, or contact me with your questions, and I'll get back to you.

Instagram Milestone

Milkyway - Bergen, Norway

Yesterday my Instagram account hit a milestone that I'd never expected to reach. Compared to most other accounts, the number isn't that huge. But I never excepted that there would be more than 3000 people out there who wound enjoy my pictures.

When I first started the account, it was simply to share some of my pictures of the dog and the nature around me. It was never a goal to grow my account, or to get a certain amount of followers. I just did it for fun, and also to see beautiful pictures from all over the world.
But somehow, as my account kept growing and people started getting involved with my posts, Instagram helped making photography one of my favorite hobbies.

I've always loved the night sky, the stars and the full moon, and I've also always enjoyed taking pictures. And I could spend hours and hours outside, looking up at the clear night sky. So being able to photograph what I see, and then share it, is such a joy for me.

After all, what good is a nice picture if no one gets to see it, if it's just stored away on some hard drive?

So this is a BIG thank you to everyone who's following my account, to everyone who likes my posts, and to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it. And it's so much fun getting to share my photography journey and how I develop as an amateur photographer with you.

All of you rock, because you make me smile every single day, and because you make me enjoy two of my favorite hobbies even more: photography and stumbling around in the dark, looking at the sky.

It's funny though, because reaching 3K followers is almost unbelievable to me, and yet the number of followers just seems to grow and grow.

Just know that I will always do my best to keep up with what you guys are doing. And that when I like or comment on one of your pictures, that's me doing it, as I will never use apps to do that for me. I enjoy being involved with what you're posting way too much to have it any other way!

I think that's enough of my ramblings for one night ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Thank you for coming along for the ride ๐ŸŒน

Me: The Accidental Aurora Photographer

Those of you who follow me on Instagram, know that I'm a pretty avid northern light photographer. I always keep track of the weather and aurora forecasts, hoping for the next opportunity to see the beautiful northern lights dance across the sky.

But I don't think many of you know how came to be one of my favorite hobbies. It was quite accidental. And two years ago, I had no idea that one could even see the northern lights where I live. I always thought we were too far south. Thankfully I was wrong about that.

I have always been fascinated by the night sky. Sitting outside on a dark autumn night, looking up into the billions and billions of stars, makes me feel so small and insignificant - but in a good way! As if none of my troubles are important in the grand scheme of things.

In December two years ago, the weather was perfect for star gazing, with cold, clear nights. It just so happened that I came across an article describing how the Geminids, an annual meteor shower, would be visible the next couple of nights.

My very first night photo
My very first night photo.
So I borrowed my dad's old tripod, grabbed by trusted Canon 400d, and went to a place by the ocean to hopefully capture some meteors. I had read up on settings and how to best take pictures of the stars. And the place I had picked, had an open view to the south, where the meteors most likely would appear.

A friend tagged (or was dragged) along. And we were somewhat surprised to see two other people with cameras at this particular location. But we figured they must be there for the meteor shower as well. So we set up our cameras and started taking pictures - backs to the north.

After a while, I decided to turn around and see if there might be any meteors to the north, as the landscape was prettier in that direction. And that is when I noticed a strange green "fog" in the sky...and that the other two photographers were busy shooting pictures of it.

I gave my friend a nudge and asked him if he could see it too. And it took me a few moments before I realized what that dancing green "fog" actually was - the northern lights!

 Above is my very first picture of the northern lights, ever! I knew absolutely nothing about settings or anything else when it came to aurora photography, so I just continued shooting with the same settings I had used to capture meteors.

I like to think (and hope) that I've come a long way since this first picture close to two years ago. And it's been a thrill every step of the way. Life as a northern light photographer is a bit like an adventure: always waiting for the weather to be clear, looking through the aurora forecasts, checking to see if the northern lights are visible right now, trying to find the perfect spot. And then dash out dragging the dog and camera, as I sprint through unknown landscapes in the dark (one does not want to ruin one's night vision, you know).

After that I bought my own tripod, upgraded my camera, and bought a couple of new lenses. I was hooked ๐Ÿ‘ง

I feel truly blessed that I am able to have these magical moments, and I'm thrilled to have found Instagram where I get to share my pictures. After all, they would do no good being stored away where no one could see them. So thank you to each and every one of you for appreciating my pictures. I hope I'll get to share many more with you.

PS. I'm also trying to venture into different kinds of photography, such as cityscapes and macro photography, so I hope you'll enjoy seeing those projects as well. And keep in mind that this is a learning process for me. I always aim at improving.

Another photo from the same location as the first one. Here with my new camera and lens, and after some practice.

I Love Mondays!

Northern lights corona - Bergen, Norway

I love Mondays. No, I'm not joking, I actually do love Mondays. While most people are sad that the weekend is over and that they have to get back to work, I feel like Mondays need some love too.

Don't get me wrong, I love the weekends as much as the next person. And I used to hate Mondays too. I used to dread getting out of bed every Monday, and could not wait for the next Friday afternoon to come along.

I Love Mondays Inspirational Quote - Motivation

It was on a cold, rainy day, with a long week of work ahead of me that I decided it was time to make a change. I realized that I lived for the weekends, and that the rest of the week was just something I "had to get through to live".

It was on that cold, rainy day that I decided to make some changes to my life, to turn things around, to make EVERY day worth living. And started taking the steps to make that dream a reality.

While I'm still not where I want to be, and I may still have a long road ahead of me, but at least I can wake up every single Monday and say, "I love Mondays. Monday gives me a fresh start, and it IS a great day to be alive."

I challenge you to take a look at your life and find out what changes you could make to start loving every single day of the week. And with that I wish you a wonderful Monday.

PS. Repost! This is one of my old posts from before I changed the whole website. But it's still true, I still love Mondays, and I encourage more people to make life choices that will make them love all days of the week. I wish you all a Happy Monday, take care of each other ๐Ÿ’•

Editing Northern Lights Photos for Instagram

Recently someone commented on one of my Instagram posts, asking if I used any editing tools. So I thought I'd take you through how I post process my photos for Instagram.

This is just a quick recap of what I normally do, and what I look for when I edit my photos.

Please note that I hardly ever use tools like Adobe Photoshop, and that I'd state clearly if a picture is photoshopped in a way that it looks nothing like it did in reality. My goal with my northern light photography is to show you what it looked like out there in the night, while the aurora was dancing across the sky. 

When I first started posting night photos on my Instagram account, I used to process my photos as if they were to be seen on a big screen or a canvass. Not realizing that this would make the pictures far too dark to really be enjoyed on a small phone screen. And while the way I post process my northern light pictures is ever-changing, there are a few things I always do to make my pictures Instagram ready.

Lightroom (ad)
I always shoot in RAW, something I highly recommend you do too. Sure, it's easier to just shoot in JPEG and be able to use the photos straight from your camera without having to deal with the conversion process. But if you shoot in RAW, the camera will store so much more information about the picture, making it easier to edit and adjust things that didn't turn out quite the way you wanted.

And since I shoot in RAW, all my photos need to be converted before I can post them here on my website, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. While my camera, a Canon one, came with its own editing tool, I decided to buy Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (affiliate link).

Lightroom, and programs like it, are great tools to help you adjust exposure, white balance, cropping and to make other small adjustments. It's meant to be a bit like developing physical pictures in a a darkroom.

Northern lights - before and after post processing in Lightroom
The before and after - Click on the picture for a larger version.
This was taken with my Canon 6d, with a Sigma 35mm Art lens:
ISO 2500, 1.6 seconds, f/1.6.
Above is the before and after of one of my recent Instagram posts. The biggest difference between the two images, is the color. I'm very lazy when it comes to setting my white balance in the camera, so I normally let the camera make a decision, and then I change it when I develop my pictures.

And my camera tends to go with a warmer white balance than I would have picked, so that's something I always edit during the post processing. I prefer the cooler white balance in my northern light photos, both because the actual aurora I can see has a cooler color than what my camera normally will choose, and because northern light photography is a cold hobby. Most of the time I'll be sitting outside at night during fall, spring or winter for hours and hours. And maybe the cooler colors reflect how I feel at the end of those nights: ice cold! ๐Ÿ˜†

After cropping the photo and chancing the white balance, I always enable the lens corrections:
Since this picture was shot with the lens almost wide open, at f/1.6, the corners of the photo are quite dark. But adding the right lens profile to the lens corrections tool will fix problems with distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and perspective correction.

After playing around with some of the other settings - my favorites being Clarity, Dehaze, Shadows and Luminance (to reduce noise) - I tend to use a graduated filter to brighten the foreground.

Keep in mind that this is how I edit the pictures for Instagram. I would not do this with pictures I wanted to print, as it adds a lot of noise.

But since most people will look at the Instagram posts on a phone, which is a rather small screen, I want them to see more than a black blob with some green in it.

Just imagine seeing the picture on the left on your phone. It's really hard to make out what it is, right?

So I tend to up the exposure of the whole picture, if needed. After doing that, I add a graduated filter to separate the foreground from the northern lights and increase the exposure of this part of the image even more. It will look horrible and noisy on a big screen. But it will make the picture look better on Instagram.

I hope you've enjoyed this sneak peak into how I post process my images for Instagram. And as always, don't hesitate to ask questions or comments, either here or on my Instagram posts. I always try to reply and help out when I can. Keep in mind that I'm just an amateur who enjoys taking pictures. This is a continuing learning process for me. And I'm so happy that I can share this with you.

UCI Road World Championships 2017

Primoลพ Rogliฤ - Slovenian cyclist, Bergen, 2017

Primoลพ Rogliฤ, who came 2nd in today's Men Elite Individual Time Trial.

This week, the UCI Road World Championships 2017 are taking place here in Bergen, Norway. The city has really come to life, and the streets are filled with happy people, flags, and bicycles. The atmosphere is amazing, and I am so proud of my city for pulling this off. Most of the city center has been completely closed to traffic, and people are walking everywhere.

Even though this kind of sport photography is about as far from night photography as one can get, I decided to give it a try. Keeping in mind that I don't have a decent lens for this kind of photography, and that I've never done it before, I'm quite happy with the results. Not too shabby for a first-timer?

They went by so quickly, so not all of the photos are completely in focus, but look at those faces - they are so focused on what they are doing.

Photos From Last Friday

This past Friday was one of my favorite nights so far in 2017. The sky was clear, it wasn't too cold, and of course, the northern lights gave me a spectacular show.

And to the East, the moon was really beautiful as it came up over the horizon. It was huge, and had a nice warm hue.

It was such a wonderful start to the season for me. Fingers crossed for more clear nights with lots and lots of auroras.

When Can I See The Northern Lights?

People are quite surprised to hear that some of my photos are taken at the end of August or beginning of May, as they think it is something that only occurs during the winter.

The fact is, as long as there's a short period of complete darkness, there is a chance of seeing this beautiful natural phenomena. 

The polar lights, or aurora, are natural lights that you can see in the night sky in a band around Earth at around 10 to 20 degrees away from the geomagnetic poles. While the solar winds can disturb the magnetosphere at any time of the year, you will need a dark sky in order to see the aurora.

If you want a decent chance of seeing the northern lights, you will need to travel to a location within the auroral oval during the winter.

Anywhere from around October to April should give you enough of darkness to see northern lights. Do keep in mind that you'd get a longer period of darkness the closer it is to winter solstice (about December 21st).

Another thing you need to think about before planning a trip to see the northern lights, is the local weather conditions. You should see if there's a time during the winter where there's a bigger chance of clear skies.

And while I do hope you get a chance to see the aurora dance across the sky, you should always keep in mind that this is a natural phenomena.

There is no guarantee you will get to see it. I have spent many nights outside hoping for a flash of green in the horizon, but where Lady Aurora never showed up.

But there is so much beauty in the night, in the stars, the landscapes and the nature, so I never find it disappointing.

Video of the Aurora Australis taken by the crew of Expedition 28 
on board the International Space Station
This sequence of shots was taken September 17, 2011

Shooting Stars

Shooting star across the Milkyway - Bergen, Norway

Last night, while I was taking the dog out before bed, a big, bright shooting star flew across the sky.

Since I live in the city, with street lights all around, it's really rare that the shooting stars are bright enough to be seen. And this one made me really wish I had had my camera at the ready.

But even if I didn't get a picture of it, it did remind me of how I first got into northern light photography. It was quite by accident, as I didn't realize the aurora could be visible where I live. I always assumed I'd have to go up north to see them.

On a cold and clear December night almost 2 years ago, a friend and I decided to try getting some pictures of the The Geminids, an annual meteor shower that peaks around December 14th.

We had found a spot with a nice view to the south, but were a bit surprised to find other photographers there as well.

While not thinking too much of it, we pointed our cameras towards the southern sky, where the meteors were supposed to be visible. After a while did I turn around and look to the north, only to see this strange green "fog". And all the other photographers were busy taking pictures of said "fog".

That's when it hit me, that oh my, that green stuff that's dancing across the sky, that's the northern lights! I knew nothing about camera settings for getting decent aurora shots back then, so all my photos from that night were trash. 20 seconds exposure is normally NOT a good thing when trying to get nice pictures of the northern lights.

But I've learned a lot since that first accidental meeting with northern lights photography, and I'm still learning every single time I get to take pictures of this beautiful natural phenomena. 

And through this blog, I hope to share some of my photos, as well as what I've learned, both about northern light photography and night photography in general. If you'd like to see more of my pictures, remember to check out my Instagram account.

Northern Lights Resources

Northern lights above an old house in Norway
Northern lights in green and purple above an old house just north of Bergen, Norway.

Right now I almost feel like ripping my hair out, as the northern lights are going crazy, reaching as far south as Northern France, while the sky here is completely covered in clouds.

So instead of losing my mind, I decided to share a couple of my favorite aurora resources with you.

Just like with weather forecasts, we get aurora forecasts. They are not always 100% accurate, but at least they can give you an idea of when and where you can see the beautiful auroras dance across the sky.

My favorite is this website, In addition to having a lot of information about the aurora and solar activity, it has a live forecast that tells you how far south you can except to see the northern lights at any given time.

And I also have an app on my phone, that gives me some of the same information. It's simply called Aurora. I use a Samsung phone, so I'm not sure this app works on iPhones.

Lastly, you should always have a decent weather forecast at hand, as all the aurora warnings in the world won't do you any good if the sky is cloudy.

I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the weather gods and Lady Aurora will be on the same page next time she's lighting up the sky.

Be Right Back!

One of the streets of Bergen, Norway at sunset.

The site is under reconstruction.
Please check back in a few days - or visit my Instagram to see some of my photos of northern lights, sunsets and some general night photography :)