Main menu:

Events

Travel Galleries

Recent Posts

  • Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 2
  • Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 1
  • Gullfoss
  • Thingvellir, Iceland
  • Even more Aurora
  • St. Patrick’s Day Geomagnetic Storm
  • Geysir / Strokkur
  • Iceland – Glacier Lagoon
  • Snowmass Rodeo, 2012
  • Venus Transit 2012
  • Last batch of Swiss pics
  • Paragliders of the Alps
  • Moonrise over the Eiger
  • More Bombay Hook
  • Another Bombay Hook sunrise
  • Christmas cactus in black and white
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Making of the ‘Ghost’
  • Mount Rainier in black and white
  • Switzerland
  • Jinshanling Great Wall
  • Beijing
  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Fourth of July…. 2010
  • Spring trip to Yosemite
  • Santa Fe Aspens
  • 2011 Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
  • Aurora
  • New York
  • Ordering prints
  • Waterfalls and Polarizers
  • So close
  • San Francisco 2010 (mostly)
  • Bald Eagles
  • Bombay Hook Sunrise
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Fall in the Shenandoah
  • Balloons!
  • Corfu, Greece
  • Article usage
  • Beckapalooza
  • Snowmass Rodeo
  • Pismo Beach Surfing
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Horseshoe Crabs
  • Wild Ponies of Assateague
  • More Yosemite
  • Half-Dome
  • Cherry Blossom Festival

  • April 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Nov    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  

    Aurora

    An aspect of photography that makes it so popular is that you don’t need the fanciest equipment to create stunning shots. Most of the time.

    Capturing the beauty of the aurora is easily the most challenging subject I’ve ever tackled. In addition to be being fairly dim, the aurora flicker and move continuously. Exposures greater than a few seconds smear out the fine structures, but short exposures are too dark. I attended an auroral conference in Fairbanks a few weeks ago, in the middle of February. That was intentional! Near the solstice, dark nights, new moon… perfect for aurora hunting. The sun cooperated and gave us the best show in years. Sadly, my now old Nikon D200, extremely noisy at high ISO, and slow lens just weren’t up for the task. The -30°F weather didn’t help things. Nor did my forgetting the base plate to my tripod.

    The first night had the most active aurora in years, but without the base plate I was forced to hold the camera against a car during the exposures – made the more complicated by my shivering hands. The next day I tracked down a camera shop in Fairbanks, bought a base plate, and was in business the rest of the week.

    I’m not content with any of my shots (except the power plant at left). Partly I suppose that’s because I’m comparing them to professionals, who can shoot with $5000 lenses and pro cameras. Google a bit and you’ll see aurora photos with beautiful colors (while mine have an overall green tint) and fine structure. And because I shot at 1600 ISO, the shots are very grainy, which distracts from the aurora. I cleaned them up the best I could, and kept the image size smaller than normal. I still haven’t figured out why, but the photos look much better small-scale. Something about the subtle contrasts that my brain isn’t able to take in fully in the larger images (if you click the link below, compare the thumbnails to the full size image to see what I mean). I’m sure there’s a lesson in there, but I’m still too frostbitten to figure it out. Still, I’m happy to have some aurora photos of my own.

    Click for aurora gallery.

    Write a comment

    You need to login to post comments!