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  • HELP! Northern Lights

    Hello, I'm new to the forum and still trying to get to grips with my camera. Would like to ask some advice? Seemingly the Northern Lights are visable over the next few nights and I'd like to take some shots. Can anyone tell me the best/ideal camera settings for taking Northern Light shots?

    Many thanks
    Hazel

  • #2
    Re: Northern Lights

    If its clear, I'm hoping to have a go myself.
    The moon is full tonight which means there will also be a lot of moonlight.
    This can be good if you have snowy hills as a backdrop. It will also take the silhouette out of ground objects.
    The settings I'll start with are noise reduction on, ISO 400 and aperture wide open. I'll let the meter read the shutter speed & then probably double it due to reciprocity failure. All settings on manual, camera on tripod, spare batteries in an inner pocket. Headtorch to see the buttons on the back of the camera. (switch off before shutter release)
    Or......
    ....... if its the usual murky overcast, play on the computer with some images and a single malt to hand.

    Oh and welcome to the forum. Good luck and if you get something worthwhile please show it.
    Duncan

    Lots of toys.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Northern Lights

      Tripod
      Set camera to manual focus
      Use LiveView to focus on the most distant light you can see
      Set to S for shutter speed and set 30 seconds
      Set ISO to 800

      Take a few and review
      If too bright then drop the ISO to 400
      If too dark then up the exposure to 60 seconds

      Take mug of tea/coffee ...stand back and enjoy the show
      chris
      shetland

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      • #4
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        Cathrine

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        • #5
          Re: Northern Lights

          One of our lens hire customers is currently above the Arctic circle to photograph the aurora borealis with a ZD 11-22; I remember speaking to him about this when we took his booking and said that seeing the lights isn't guaranteed - looks like he timed his trip brilliantly!

          I have seen the lights once, about 15 years ago when I was in Oulou, Finland. We went on a night time trip on a retired ice breaker ship out into the Arctic Gulf of Bothnia. The trip involves a stop out on the frozen sea several miles off shore and you can disembark and walk around on the ice. We were very lucky and the northern lights were doing their thing. I was using a Canon EOS film camera at the time and took time exposures with the camera resting on the ice. They turned out surprisingly well

          Ian
          Founder and editor of:
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          Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
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          • #6
            Re: Northern Lights

            Thank you for all the tips and advice. Mother nature got in the way last night with lovely pea-soup sea mist, so fingers crossed that the skies will be clear tonight.

            Cheers
            Hazel

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Northern Lights

              This is just the start of the rise to solar maximum so there should be many more to come...
              some film images from the last maximum around 2003
              http://www.paddles.shetland.co.uk/Aurora%20images.htm
              chris
              shetland

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Northern Lights/moon

                I tried to photograph the moon last night.

                I used the exposure suggested by Wrotniak (1/250 @f8 200 asa, E620) through the 70-300.

                The exposure was fine but the moon was out of focus. I had tried to focus automatically as I couldn't really see what was sharp and what wasn't on the screen. Maybe focusing manually on a distant terrestial light would do the trick. I'll have another go tonight if it's clear.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Northern Lights/moon

                  Originally posted by davidsa View Post
                  I tried to photograph the moon last night.

                  I used the exposure suggested by Wrotniak (1/250 @f8 200 asa, E620) through the 70-300.

                  The exposure was fine but the moon was out of focus. I had tried to focus automatically as I couldn't really see what was sharp and what wasn't on the screen. Maybe focusing manually on a distant terrestial light would do the trick. I'll have another go tonight if it's clear.
                  Consider setting to spot metering wide open at 300mm and let the shutter speed sort it self out
                  Manual focus with Live View zoom
                  Set 5 second shutter delay if on a tripod with IS off
                  chris
                  shetland

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Northern Lights

                    I would forget about using the camera metering. Take some test shots at different settings and then choose the best and stick with that in manual mode.

                    You should aim for a relatively high shutter speed as the moon moves across the frame surprisingly fast - 1/500th to 1/1000th maybe is what to aim for, and of course there is camera shake to contend with, even on a tripod. I'd also suggest setting the lens to f/7.1 for optimum sharpness. So you may have to juggle the ISO in order to get the ideal exposure.

                    Ian
                    Founder and editor of:
                    Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                    Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                    Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                    Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)

                    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/
                    NEW: My personal BLOG ianburley.com
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Re: Northern Lights/moon

                      Yes, I used a tripod, IS off and the 2 sec time delay, and set the exposure manually, taking several shots at 1/250 and 1/500 at 200ASA. As I say that exposure seemed ok, lots of detail on the moon, but it wasn't sharp.

                      I tried focussing manually (using the screen) but couldn't really see what I was doing. Tried autofocus and it hunted around and the locked into focus except it wasn't. I'll maybe have another go tonight.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Photographing the Moon was Re: Northern Lights



                        1500mm F5, ISO 200. Spot metering gave me 1/250th sec but with light cloud this dropped to 1/30th sec as in this image.

                        Also it does show that to fill the frame you need about 1500mm focal length.

                        Also the atmosphere movement smears the sharpness of the image so do take several images and you could then consider stacking the good ones

                        There has been quite a bit of post processing to sharpen up the image.
                        chris
                        shetland

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Northern Lights

                          @ David - Check the EXIF on the pictures in this thread. http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=12772

                          (If you use Firefox download FxIFto see the details https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/fxif/ )
                          - my pictures -

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                          • #14
                            Re: Northern Lights

                            Originally posted by wanderer View Post
                            If its clear, I'm hoping to have a go myself.
                            The moon is full tonight which means there will also be a lot of moonlight.
                            This can be good if you have snowy hills as a backdrop. It will also take the silhouette out of ground objects.
                            The settings I'll start with are noise reduction on, ISO 400 and aperture wide open. I'll let the meter read the shutter speed & then probably double it due to reciprocity failure. All settings on manual, camera on tripod, spare batteries in an inner pocket. Headtorch to see the buttons on the back of the camera. (switch off before shutter release)
                            Or......
                            ....... if its the usual murky overcast, play on the computer with some images and a single malt to hand.

                            Oh and welcome to the forum. Good luck and if you get something worthwhile please show it.
                            I thought you only got reciprocity failure with film.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Northern Lights

                              So it says in the books, but have taken a years worth of 30sec plus shots on the E500, I've notice the vast increase of both saturation and contrast.
                              That may be camera specific down to the hot mirror and/or sensor as the E620 doesnt seem to emulate the effect?

                              I'd also say when shooting the moon try a wide open apeture or at most f5.6 , @ infinity the DOF isnt going to make a difference but will enable faster shutter speeds to negate tracking and reduce chance of shake.
                              E500 - E600 - E620 - HLD5 x2 - 17.5-45mm - 14-42mm - 14-45mm - Sigma 30mm f1.4 - 25mm f2.8 - 40-150mmMI (3.5) - Sirius 60-300mm f4-5.6 - Chinon 55mm f1.4 - Chinon 200mm f3.5 - FL50 - FL36 - Raynox DCR2020PRO

                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/photonutter/

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