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Author Topic: Northern Lights  (Read 5037 times)
gojuryugodan
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« on: November 25, 2006, 09:38:15 AM »
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I am going to Fairbanks Alaska in Feb. 2007. Wanting to record some of the Northern Light show , wondering if anyone has suggestions .
I have a Digital Rebel XT. a Canon 50 mm 1.4f., a Sigma 70-700.
Is this the pefect excuse to go buy another lense?I am think perhaps a fast Wide Angle .....thank you.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2006, 11:34:11 AM »
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Beats me.  But here is a nice place to check to see if you'll see any....

www.spaceweather.com
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Henrik Paul
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2006, 12:57:33 PM »
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I've only once shot northern lights, but here's my thoughts:

There's no need for fast lenses. You need a sturdy tripod and prepare for multi-second exposures. Sure, they wiggle a bit, but not too much for a few seconds. Wide angle is recommended, because I wouldn't say it's too rare for them to cross most of the sky (depending on what latitude you are).

Also, I noted that having a weak IR-filter in front of the sensor is a good thing, because new colors could be included to the aurora borealis. The time I shoot, the lights seemed only green to the eye, but when looking at the images from the camera, I saw some blue and red colors too.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2006, 01:30:09 PM »
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You might want to look into the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens. And a good tripod.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2006, 02:03:58 PM »
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You will need a wide angle option as the aurora can cover a large percentage of the sky.

We are currently at around solar minimum in the sunspot cycle which means less solar activity and less aurora.

Fast lenses have the benefit of helping freezing the motion of the aurora.

The images best images i think have a landscape component. For example mountains or reflected in a lake.

Cheers
Dave down in NZ
Magiclight
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2006, 01:05:29 PM »
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As per other posters, a wide-angle option is essential because the aurora often occupies a large chunk of sky. Reasonably fast lenses are also useful because you will be trading off ISO and shutter speed to get adequate sharpness with the moving aurora display despite low light levels. A typical exposure may be 2 to 4 seconds at ISO 400 and f:2.8 for a decent aurora display. Higher ISO will mean more noise, but longer shutter speed means more blurring.
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framah
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2006, 06:29:41 PM »
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Hand  warmers!!

 Lots & lots of hand warmers!!! Put them in your pocket, put them in your shoes,  put them in your pants and one under your hat!
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"It took a  lifetime of suffering and personal sacrifice to develop my keen aesthetic sense."
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2006, 08:57:31 PM »
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Quote
As per other posters, a wide-angle option is essential because the aurora often occupies a large chunk of sky. Reasonably fast lenses are also useful because you will be trading off ISO and shutter speed to get adequate sharpness with the moving aurora display despite low light levels. A typical exposure may be 2 to 4 seconds at ISO 400 and f:2.8 for a decent aurora display. Higher ISO will mean more noise, but longer shutter speed means more blurring.
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Nice image, thanks for sharing.

Regards,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
SteveH
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2006, 04:16:48 PM »
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There are lots of resources for Aurora photography. Check out the University of Alaska, Fairbanks geophysical site for Aurora predictions and links. Here's a quick and dirty list: 1. Wide angle lens, 2. Tripod, 3. NO FILTER on lens (Makes indelible rings) 4. ISO high enough to keep exposure relatively short to minimize star tracks. 5. Prefocus on infinity and tape lens while it's still light: autofocus off, 6. Check out locations before dark - good forground makes the shot.  Shoot like mad and check your histogram. Also take a head lamp, warm clothes and gloves.[attachment=1333:attachment]
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santa
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2007, 02:32:27 PM »
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The estimate of 2-4 sec at ISO 400 was quite a bit off for typical aurora. More commonly you'll be shooting 15-30 sec at f2.8 with ISO 400. You can get to 2-4 sec when they are very bright, but it isn't typical. If you use a 50mm lens you will get very little of the aurora so you really do need a wide angle lens. If you get a lens slower than f2.8 you will most likely be forced into exposures of over 30 seconds and end up with star-smudges, or you will go past ISO 800 and have some very grainy photographs that will require Noise Ninja (not a bad idea regardless). Shoot raw and try 3200 as a reasonable Kelvin setting if your camera allows that. Bring extra batteries. In February it can get downright chilly. I take 6 batteries along with my MarkII and at -40F I can go through all of them. Be careful to NOT breath on your camera if it's really cold out or you'll fog up the eyepiece or lens very easily.  I literally hold my breath while shooting in cold temps. Chances are your boots will not be warm enough for teh cold if it drops to -30F or under so budget for new boots. Big Ray's is the place to look IMHO, in Fairbanks for cold weather boots. Bring thin polypro gloves to wear under your normal gloves so you don't freeze your hands when you momentarily need to manipulate something small. A headlamp with a red light is a real help too. GL.
Here's a local fairbanks shot...

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BryanHansel
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2007, 02:33:34 PM »
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Definitely buy a wide angle lens. I usually use a 12-24 for NL. I missed the best display of this winter season, because of clouds. But you could see them as far south as Des Moines, IA. For those in the north, look up on the 29th.
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