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finnbay

Northern Lights - Part Deux

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Aurora again last night. I spent some time preparing yesterday so that I wouldn't be flying by the seat of my pants if they showed up again. Did some research on the internet and talked to my good friend Craig Blacklock (he gave a presentation in Babbitt last night and I asked a question from the audience grin). I think I'm getting it dialed in. Next time I've got a few minor adjustments and I think I'll be happy.

If anyone else got pix last night, feel free to post them on this thread!

AAB7.gif

AAB1.gif

AAB2.gif

AAB3.gif

Might try to light paint the island next time:

AAB4.gif

AAB6.gif

Moon was setting and couldn't resist taking a shot. Good color - no detail. Next time blend a couple of exposures.

AAB5.gif

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The first night I was using my 5D at 800 ISO, and thought I was happy with that until I saw what happened the second night. Canon 1D3 and 17-40 f/4. I upped the ante to 3200 ISO and kept the lens at f/4. Tripod, shutter release and mirror lockup to steady things, and most shots were 30 second exposures. A lot less noise than the 5D at 800 ISO, and what was left cleaned up pretty well in Lightroom. Lassoed the foreground snow, upped the exposure on that a little, desaturated and brightened. Finished by kicking the vibrance just a little and then saturated the reds until they started to get artifacts. If I get a chance to shoot them again sometime, I might spend some time at ISO 6400 and cut the exposure to 15 or 20 seconds. Would like to get the stars a bit sharper. Even at 30 seconds they move enough to soften them up.

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Ken, try ISO 1000 to 1600, f8 and keep exposures under 25 seconds. That will keep the stars pinpoint sharp. I've had my best luck setting exposure time, aperture and then adjusting the ISO with each shot until I get the desired look. The lens will be a bit sharper at f8 instead of wide-open.

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Thanks, Dan. Good advice and points well taken. I had tried at ISO 1200 and f/7.1 to begin with and the lights were dim enough that they were terribly underexposed and noisy. Shot up ISO and dropped aperture to compensate, and didn't experiment as much as I should have. Hopefully next time they'll be around in the summer. Last night it was 10 degrees and my hands (and later my brain) didn't work well enough. Will put your recipe in my book!

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These are spectacular Ken! Both nights!! Thanks so much for sharing the shots and the technique as well.

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This is cool stuff Ken, this reminded me to update our sticky at the top of the forum to include some star shooting information. Please include any of your experiences in there as well! The tutorial is Located Here

I hope you get another shot at these soon, they are likely some of the coolest things on the planet to photograph IMHO! I am not sure which is worse though, shooting at night in the cold or in the summer at night when the bugs are out!

I hope to get a view of them tonight when I fly out of Denver. Based on the last few nights they might be out again. They look much sharper and clearer at 41,000' than being viewed from the ground through all the pollution of the lower atmosphere.

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Kinda hard to hold a camera still at 41,000 feet and traveling 600 mph I would guess! grin

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Wonderful, Ken! I caught a bit of these last night when I let the dogs out. Haven't seen them in a LONG time! Great job. 2thumbs.gif

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