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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Astronomy & Celestial 
Thread started 06 Nov 2013 (Wednesday) 02:15
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Aurora borealis capture tips? Tromsø, Norway

 
ken2000ac
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Nov 06, 2013 02:15 |  #1

Wife and I are spending the first week of January in the area of Tromsø, Norway in hopes of seeing the northern lights. Tromsø is on the 69.4 parallel north of the Arctic Circle, and assuming clouds don't rain on our parade we'll be maximizing our chances to see a display.

I'd like to be as prepared as possible regarding optimum settings - if it shows up at all, I might have one opportunity to capture it and I don't wish to be experimenting at that moment. Any suggestions on ISO/shutter speed combinations? ??? I do fear I will expose for too long and lose the "curtain" effect, but I'd also like to ensure I expose the foreground too.

Will be using a 5DII + TSE 24L II (f/3.5). Any wisdom you gents can impart will be appreciated.


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bc23swd
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Nov 06, 2013 03:19 |  #2

I did mine in my backyard with neighbors out lights and street lights on. Even if its a faint aurora your lens will pick up what you cant see. I did 3.4 at 25sec ISO 1600. If the aurora is very strong just bums down ISO and shutter speed. So think like that, and take as many photos you can and at different spots because it moves fast and might not return lol.


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bc23swd
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Nov 06, 2013 03:20 |  #3

Its best if you do an overexposed so you know and see the outcome.


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ken2000ac
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Nov 06, 2013 04:26 |  #4

Thanks! How rapidly does it move about? Do you suggest I favour a shorter exposure to maximise shape definition, or does it not change shape in the 20-30 second duration?


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bc23swd
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Nov 06, 2013 12:20 |  #5

If it's strong as in visible then it's going to be all over the sky and moving like a wave. Then you can use a lower ISO and maybe 10-15 sec exposure. No matter what your lens is going to capture it so don't panic. I'm live in northern sweden so it's starting to get dark a lot earlier. if there's no aurora try taking a star sky photo and mess with all the exposures at different ISO and write down or try to remember which one is best so when it's time your ready.


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ken2000ac
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Nov 07, 2013 01:03 |  #6

That's very helpful, thank you. Happy Aurora hunting to you as well. :)


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neimad19
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Nov 07, 2013 21:32 |  #7

To give you a rough idea of what settings to use for a 'strong' auroral event, this shot was taken at ISO 800 - 6 seconds - F 3.6 @ 11mm on a crop body. Though I have shot faint auroras at the same settings with exposures over 30 seconds. I usually start at ISO 800, widest lens I have and lowest aperture. With those settings I only have to change the shutter speed to get the results I want.


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scpictaker
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Nov 08, 2013 22:26 as a reply to  @ neimad19's post |  #8

This was from the same camera and lens 5D2 and TS-e 24 L II. ISO 3200, 30 sec. f/3.5 WB set to tungsten.


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ken2000ac
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Nov 12, 2013 14:35 |  #9

Does anyone know if arctic auroras need dramatically dark skies, or are they equally visible over cities like Tromsø?

Wondering if I need to plan to drive far outside of the "city" each night on our stay to maximize our chances, or can we remain in the area and be only marginally affected?


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low-1
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Nov 19, 2013 16:47 |  #10

The darker the better. It would be worth it to drive away from the city lights, if for no other reason that to get away from the horrid color cast of sodium lights. You don't have to get that far away, but definitely get out of town, my opinion.

Regarding settings, sound advice has been given so far. It really depends on the brightness and the activity. I've captured aurora I didn't even know was there shooting at higher iso and 30 sec, I've also shot extremely bright and active aurora at around iso640 and 1-3 seconds, it all depends. Don't be afraid to push the iso to shorten your shutter speed, you'll be able to capture more of the curtain effect that way. Sometimes, though, the aurora can be relatively static and you can capture sharp curtain lines with 15-20 sec exposures.

Personally, I use the widest lens I have with the aperture opened as far as it will go. Definitely use a tripod (obvious), and get a remote release for your camera, wired or wireless. Failing a remote release, use the built in timer, so you don't end up with any camera shake from pressing the release. A headlamp is an valuable tool when shooting auroras. And when you come in from the cold, put your cold camera in the cold camera bag before coming inside, and let it warm gradually over the course of a few hours. Take the card out prior and stick it in a ziplok bag before going inside so you can review your photos earlier. Otherwise your camera/card *WILL* be covered in condensation, and that's not a good thing.

I shoot tens of thousands of aurora photos from my backyard every year, if you have any more questions, just ask.




  
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Aurora borealis capture tips? Tromsø, Norway
FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Astronomy & Celestial 
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