Ed Gold borrowed my Polaroid 110 4×5 conversion to take with him on his Galena Project. Amazed. Imagine, he’s out on a frozen river taking part in a search for the body of a Galena resident while taking photographs of life in Galena. So cold, at -40 degrees, that he has to compensate, off the top of his head, for how slow the camera is working.
Since coming to Alaksa, I have started to learn this is not Houston. And that there is a BIG difference between 98 degrees F and -40 degrees (F|C).
We are still very much newbies, having seen the Aurora twice, but we have learned there is a process we can follow to help us capture images. The caveat is that we have yet to use a film camera, my preferred type of camera-but it is on my list!
This is a very minimal list, not exhaustive, of things you need or can use, but it should give you enough to get you started. There are a lot of web sites containing good advice. Foggy Lens Photography got us started by giving us an evening class and lab where we captured our first images.
First, some basic equipment. I found having everything in one place really helps so I made a boogie bag with the cameras, and stuff, and a second one with chairs, so I can just grab and go. In my boogie bag I keep:
Camera – You need a digital camera, with low noise at high ISO and either a timer functions or cable release (remote), and white balance control. Practice to feel comfortable working it on manual. At a minimum you need to become familiar enough with your dSLR to understand and manipulate:
Setting your camera to RAW
Lenses – You can use what you have of course, but in general the wider the better. (Don’t forget to remove all filters),
Tripod – Sturdy tripod that won’t wobble during long exposures is a must.
Extra batteries – Always have backup batteries. And a backup for the backup. In cold weather, like we have here in Alaska, you will find batteries can drain quickly, sometimes without warning. Warming them against your body can sometimes get the power up.
Extra memory cards or film, you never know what can happen.
Cable release or remote – This will help you trigger the shutter while not touching the camera and tripod which causes shaking. An alternative I use is the timer function, so when I click the shutter, it will wait X amount of seconds before the shutter opens.
Second, Your camera will perform best on manual. Shoot RAW for the greatest flexibility. We left white balance in auto, but others liked how Tungsten came out. To start I,
Set my lens to its widest (lowest number) and focus to infinity.
Set my ISO to 1600
Set my time to 15 seconds
Set timer to 2-5 seconds.
Now you set up your feedback system. Look at the results you are getting and start adjusting the settings as you need. If you dark, increase your ISO and/or time. If too bright decrease.
Third you need to find aurora. Even during the best time, the Northern Lights are fickle and will display when in the mood. You can ask around and look at local web sites for information on best place to hunting. There are sites you can visit or sign up for that will give you notification when something is about to happen.
Tonight the Aurora Borealis danced the night away. You can see more images as I get them done using the below link to the gallery. First attempt at light painting on Tuesday. The aurora was breathtaking. Location: 61°28’35.6″N 149°09’47.2″W. Please feel free to visit our gallery.
It was a cold, low Kp nite with bright moonlight and clouds making it just a peachy time. The humor and hard work of Adam and the group gave us a greater understanding of our camera’s capabilities and functionality. While we still can’t say we actually saw the Aurora Borealis, we did capture some shots. Remember it was pitch black, and only one young gal said she could actually see it with her eyes.
Thank you Aurora Notifications for your hard work and letting us know about the class. @AuroraNotify. @Canon @Nikon #EOS
Yay, I finally got my web site up and running. I racked my brain trying to find a way to start my posting. I chose this image. I titled it, “Hello World”, the first program one writes in any language. Last year when I got sick, Janine made this Inutsuk for me so I would always find my way home.