By Kim Reader
This stunning snap shows the moment the shape of a falcon’s head appeared in the northern lights.
A perfect silhouette of the majestic bird of prey’s head, beak and chest can be seen outlined by the colourful glow of the aurora borealis.
Dad-of-three Christophe Suarez captured the beautiful optical illusion as the incredible beams of light filled the night sky over Myvatn in Iceland on September 16.
While telecommunications engineer Christophe, 51, spotted the outline of the falcon in his striking snap, he said he didn’t realise how ‘special’ it was until he got inundated with positive feedback from his friends.
Christophe, of Annemass, France, said: “I love Iceland. I come here once or twice a year. If I could I’d spend six months of the year here but I have a job and I have to find time for my family.
“It is a place with such a beautiful landscape and it really adds to the experience of seeing the northern lights.
“You can take pictures of the northern lights in so many places but the only other thing you would have in your photo is trees or snow. Here you could have a lake or a volcano.
“Seeing the northern lights is such a huge experience no matter how many times you have seen them before. They are absolutely incredible.
“You can spend all night watching them and I do. When I’m here I sleep during the day and stay awake all night enjoying the lights and taking photos of them.
“I often see different shapes appearing in the lights. It’s like watching the clouds, your mind creates these shapes and different people see different things.
“But this time it is so clear that you can see the lights have made the shape of a falcon’s head. People have said the same when I showed it to them. It’s appropriate that it looks like such a majestic bird.
“I never think my photos are special but it is nice that other people do and have such positive comments to make.
“I care more about sharing the experience and the emotion of seeing the northern lights than the actual photographs.
“At the moment I’m here with three friends who have never seen the lights before and it is so special to watch them experiencing it and to be able to share that with them. It is so special.
“Photography is just a way for me to be able to share the beauty of them with other people as well.”
Despite having a lifelong love for photography, Christophe only got into the hobby in 2003 as the emergence of digital cameras made it more affordable.
The snapper likes his photos of the northern lights to look as natural, limiting any post-processing he does to desaturating the colours as he thinks cameras exaggerate the green of the aurora.
Specialising in weather and nature photography usually sees photographers limiting the man-made elements in their pictures but not Christophe.
Christophe enjoys incorporating a human element into his shots to show the interaction between mankind and the environment.
But 14 years of pursuing his passion and his love of a challenge means Christophe no longer settles for the ‘ordinary’ shots, longing instead for wild storms and natural phenomena.
Christophe said: “I want people to see whatever I am taking a photo of how they would see it with their own eyes.
“A lot of northern lights photos show that really vibrant green but it doesn’t look like that. I’ve found the camera saturates the colours so I tone it back down.
“It’s actually more work to make it look natural but I want people to experience the reality of nature.
“I also like it if there is a human element in my photos. A lot of nature photographers will avoid anything manmade but I like to show the relationship between humans and our environment.
“I even take photos showing pollution. It’s bad for the planet but it can make a striking picture.
“The thing I love most about photography is capturing the elements and that means all the elements that make up our world.
“But over the years I have also become a lot more focused on capturing something special. I have seen so many beautiful sunsets and sunrises that I’m not interested in photographing them anymore.
“Now I need the sunset plus lightning plus the northern lights. It needs to be something really powerful and something that is a challenge. That’s what I love.”