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  1. Midland Red

    Midland Red

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    Hi all

    I guess it's been asked - and answered - before, but . . .

    We're off to north Norway next month, hoping to see the aurora

    Any straightforward hints for trying to photograph them, should they show

    Grateful!
     
  2. Jimi-the-fish

    Jimi-the-fish

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    Wide and fast!
     
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  3. Jimi-the-fish

    Jimi-the-fish

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    More seriously, I almost bought a Samyang specifically for a trip to Iceland in October but didn't. Went with my Tamron 17-50 2.8 shot at 2.8 focused on stars using live view and used ISO 800 for about 30s. Worked out fine.
     
  4. StreetSnapper

    StreetSnapper

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    Brian
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    Wow - lucky you!

    I think a sturdy tripod is your first essential - ideally one with insulated legs (such as foam coverings). Then make sure you pack a cable release.

    As for camera gear and settings, I'd use a wideangle lens (ideally somewhere between 18 to 24mm, full-frame equivalent), but consider something longer as a back-up to get some tighter crops. Don't use filters (even a UV filter) as this could cause chromatic aberration. You'll need to experiement with settings, but my starting point would be something like ISO 2000, F/5.6 and 15sec, focused at infinity.

    Try to keep your camera in an insulated bag when you're not shooting and remember that batteries will drain quickly. Avoind rapid changes in temperature, as this could lead to condensation.

    Good luck!
    Brian
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  5. phil_b

    phil_b

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    I have shot it from here in Northern Ireland at f4, 20mm, iso 2500 and 25 seconds. It is really a case of experimenting and seeing what works.
     
  6. granddad john

    granddad john

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    John
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    Shot fabulous Northern Lights form Tromso area in January this year. The only thing I'd add to Street Snappers excellent advice is to keep your spare batteries close to your body for warmth and to wrap up well yourself. It often gets down to -15 to -20C up there and you'll be standing around waiting. Also get a head torch with a red light option; it makes seeing the camera and it's settings much easier. I used Canon 17-55 @ f2.8 and iso 1000 for 15 secs, which worked well for me. Don't forget to get some foreground in or a person if you can.

    Have a great time
     
  7. MattyW

    MattyW

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    The settings vary hugely depending on the intensity of the show. The early diffuse arc to the north would require ISO 1600-3200, f2.8 or so, and a 15-20 second exposure.
    When a display really gets going, it can put out an awful lot of light. We had a display this week, where at times I was shooting 0.5s exposures at ISO1600 and f2.8.
    Generally you'll use between 4 and 10 second exposures. The other thing to bear in mind is the ambient lighting. Under a full moon, or with a lot of light pollution, you'll find there is a lot more light about, which may affect your exposure.
    Additionally, it's not a bad idea to exposure merge, one for the foreground (especially if there is little ambient light) and one for the lights. This can give a much more pleasing end result.
    Make sure that you know the infinity focus setting on the lens(es) you will be using. It's very tough to confirm focus out in the field, and its much better done before you head out.
    If you're shooting at wide apertures, and factoring in foreground to your shots, it may also be worthwhile focus stacking the shots, as 2.8 focussed to infinity isn't going to offer a lot of depth of field.
    Keep your batteries warm, as mentioned above, and if it is really cold, make sure not to stand on the spot. Keep moving and keep the hands and fingers on the move too.
    I'd advise shooting in Manual mode, in order that if the intensity of the light changes suddenly, you can quickly adjust your shutter speed in order to maintain a good exposure.
     
  8. Nod

    Nod Ethel Prescott

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    Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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    Sturdy tripod and a fast to adjust head - something like the Manfrotto 322 trigger head is ideal, although any ball head you're familiar with will do the job. As wide as you have in terms of focal length and maximum aperture. Keep spare batteries in an inside pocket and stick "exhausted" ones in a different one - they'll recover fairly well in the warmth as long as the cold was the cause of their exhaustion. Don't forget to use your Mk 1 eyeballs as well! A camera can only capture a fleeting moment at a time while your memory will treasure the ever shifting patterns.

    Luck can play a huge part in seeing the Aurorae - a strong storm above a cloudy sky is as much good as no aurora on a clear night.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Midland Red

    Midland Red

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    Thanks all for the kind responses, which I will endeavour to digest and make the best use of
    Happy New Year, all
     
  10. Jim_Tod

    Jim_Tod

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    I've tried aurora stuff recently. Would strongly recommend going out on dark nights and learning/ practising how to focus manually on a star etc. Much better than trying to learn in the heat of the moment
     
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  11. Midland Red

    Midland Red

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    Great advice, all - thanks
    Well, it didn't quite go according to plan
    Nothing was seen during the nights spent on land - there was an alert one night on board ship that they had been seen
    So, with camera on tripod, release cable, settings as advised, I ventured out to take a look
    NOTHING TO BE SEEN
    I was aware of greyish "clouds" in the night sky as the ship endeavoured to make up time lost due to gales earlier
    Anyway, having set it up, I clicked away - and found that, although the naked eye saw nothing, the camera picked up the aurora
    GREAT!
    Only drawback was that we were moving and distant shore lights and stars reflected movement with long exposure
    I cut back exposure, but this sadly led to a lot of noise
    I have selected three images - they're pretty awful, I'm sure you'll agree, but they do give some idea of what the aurora was like (to the camera, anyway!)
    I'm sad that I don't have better images, but pleased that I do have a record of something I've not seen before - and won't ever see again
    THANKS AGAIN, ALL!

    [​IMG]
    Northern Lights, Norway 1 - 30 Jan 2017
    by Midland Red, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Northern Lights, Norway 2 - 30 Jan 2017
    by Midland Red, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Northern Lights, Norway 3 - 30 Jan 2017
    by Midland Red, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  12. Chr1stof

    Chr1stof

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    Caught the colours nicely, just a shame about the movement as you say.
     
  13. Nod

    Nod Ethel Prescott

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    Don't worry about the camera movement - over the 5 seconds or so that your shutter was open, the display itself will have moved a lot as well! The only things that shows that the camera has moved are the land based lights that have streaked a bit.
     
  14. Derry

    Derry

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    Name:
    Patrick
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    High iso to get as much light in as possible too... been lucky enough to have caught them close to home once or twice...
     
  15. mrgubby

    mrgubby

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    It all depends on the strength, this was taken at ISO800, f4 & 10s

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Turbo-G

    Turbo-G

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    Grant
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    Use a tripod, try to get some interest in the foreground (if possible), shoot wide open, focus at infinity (ensure the stars are sharp), crank ISO up a little bit, and try to keep shutter below 4 seconds ish to avoid star movement.

    If you're in the right part of the world, and the conditions are right, they are actually very easy to capture, from experience in Iceland. Good luck :)
     
  17. Chipper

    Chipper

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    We are going to Norway this month for a holiday (with photography but mainly a holiday) and I have found on the net that the aurora is present in September. Correct me, please if I am wrong - I just want to check what I think I have learnt from reading:

    - tripod
    - manual focus on infinity
    - 15mm focal length is probably the widest
    - widest aperture possible
    - foreground interest
    - exposures longer than about 6seconds may well show star movement
    - use cable release
    - keep batteries close to the body (although it won't be as cold as many of you will have experienced)
    - consider also a longer focal length

    Anything else please?
     
  18. Jim_Tod

    Jim_Tod

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    You've got the 500 rule on avoiding star trails. Divide 500 by the full frame equivalent focal length to get exposure in seconds before star trails is an issue
     
  19. Chipper

    Chipper

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    Sadly so are a lot of clouds. Still, time yet!
     

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