Errin Hiltbrand Photography » Madison Wedding Photographer

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve longed to see the lights. I know when I was a little girl, my dad once said “look. it’s the Northern Lights” but after asking him about that–I’m not sure it was the real thing. After a lot of research, I realized it’s rare to see them in our area. I started researching Iceland and Norway. On Facebook, one of my favorite Norway photographers to follow is found under “Wait For It” and his experience with the lights is unreal and something I dream to see one day. I’ve talked with him for a while and contacted a lot of places in Iceland about a tour. There’s never any guarantees and when the highest probability occurs in Iceland, it is very very cold (tripod and feet on glaciers–cold) and very dark for all but 5 hours of the day. And expensive. The photography tour I’m looking at for 5 days is $6,000. So with flight, etc., probably $8,000. Once in a lifetime thing. I’ve started to save. In the meantime, I’ve subscribed to a service which lets me know when the Kp is higher than 5 locally. The national news mentioned the storm about to happen and it seemed to be a clear day. So I told myself it would be a late night. Planned on hitting the road around 11 pm. A very talented friend of mine in Milwaukee posted a shot he took around 8 pm and I literally grabbed my camera and tripod and ran out the door. Had a coat in my car and a flashlight. I could see a green haze from 18-151 but I’d never seen “the lights” before so wasn’t sure if it was just in my head or not. Stopped to get gas (I was going to attempt to drive 3 hours north to get more of a view). Still seeing the haze, I decided I would give the spot I had in mind locally one quick shot. I turned the corner, saw several cars lined up and people outside of them, looked at the sky, and started to cry. Something I didn’t expect to do. I saw the lines and shoots and colors and it was breathtaking and amazing. Quickly parked, shot from my car window (I am, afterall, somewhat of a scaredy pants) and realized I was CRAZY thankful I grabbed the tripod. The first shot is at ISO 20,000 and close to what the eye would see. The rest are around ISO 2,000 and 30 seconds so a much greater view than what you or I can see. It was amazing. I posted a  quick photo online. In the meantime, my friend, Jess, said “Drive safe. Hope you spot them.” “I DID!!! COMING????” “Right now?” “Right now” “Getting in van” and I later learned she was already in bed. It was very nice to have the company. I’m always a bit nervous with my gear and in the pitch black night a little lonely. The photos below occurred between 9:22 pm and 9:50 pm in Blue Mounds, WI.

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It’s an odd feeling. I met them one night at a café in Madison and on my ride home, I smiled. A lot. These two do that to you. I knew how I was going to finally re-organize and clean my closet and I had the urge to buy them a strainer or measuring cups just for kicks as a gift. I REALLY loved them. They were honest and open–didn’t need to fill out paperwork or have a contract–trusted me to show up and take photos and that was that. It felt good. So often in my line of work, contracts are necessary and things in life can get more complicated than they need to be. Met them as strangers, will always hold a spot in my heart for them as friends. Just wonderful people. I feel so honored that I got to shoot their Madison party. Wish I could have been in Mexico for the real deal—fantastic group of friends and family that followed them there and celebrated with them here. Thank you both SO much for everything. I’ll think of you often and know you’ll be celebrating a fantastic marriage.

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