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Old 26th July 2016
blu-by-u blu-by-u is offline
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Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Yeah Wifey booked me to go an see those aurora lights (Early December) in Finland.

So, I need help. What are the stuff I need? Lenses, additional equipment, gears and what else?

Camera, I intend to bring my EM1 and GX7. I have the 11-22 ( the widest I have) and a 8mm Samyang fisheye. What is the recommended settings.

I have seen a lot of beautiful shots here and also know that there is a lot of work involved in getting them as they are shown (post processing). Please advice on this also.

All sorts of advices are most welcome.

BTW, admin, I don't know where to start this thread.
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

First, decide the maximum iso you are happy with. 11-22 at 2.8 Manual focus ... a good tripod. Shoot RAW . Wrap up warm.

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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Can I stick with the 12-40/2.8? I don't think it's advisable to switch lenses outdoor.
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

The 12-40 2.8 works for me. You will need to check the manual focus on infinity in daylight because it is likely to be too dark to check it at night. I used focus assist to get infinity focus on a passing airliner and noted exactly where on the ring it lined up to (you could even mark it?
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

I haven't shot in environments as cold as you're going to experience, but my wife went to Iceland with one of her old school friends in February and they had to stand on a bare ice field in the wind for around 3 hours waiting for the aurora. After all that they only saw a few green glows...

So, insulated tops, hat/hood, bottoms and serious boots are essential. I'd suggest getting what's called a 'belay jacket' such as those made by Montane and others.

Buy more spare batteries and keep them in your pockets close to your body: as they appear to die in the camera you can often revive more useful life by re-warming them.

I find these really good gloves, but I suspect they aren't warm enough alone for this application and you could get some big mittens to go over the top:

https://photographygloves.com/

I'm already looking forward to seeing the images and hearing how you got on!
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

We took some photographs of the aurora from our back garden in the northeast of England earlier this year!

The good news is that the aurora tend to be more visible to the camera then they are to the human eye, but you will probably need an exposure of around ten to forty seconds at f5.6 with the camera set to ISO 800 or 1000. This may produce a lot of noise but the low temperatures in Finland should help.

You will need some spare batteries, but I would suggest that you start experimenting now with long night time exposures and the various in-camera filter options to get the results that you want.

My son used his EM1, which produced some remarkably clean RAW images straight from the camera, but since a recent firmware update the camera has produced quite a lot more noise, reducing its effectiveness for such work.
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmarkf View Post
.............................but my wife went to Iceland with one of her old school friends in February and they had to stand on a bare ice field in the wind for around 3 hours waiting for the aurora. After all that they only saw a few green glows...
The aurora does come and go. We were surprised by how quickly it disappeared, only to reappear somewhere else (not necessarily to the north) twenty or so minutes later.

There are several mobile phone apps that indicate the likelihood and strength of an aurora, but these only indicate current conditions. I don't think it is possible to predict an aurora at present.
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Send me a PM and I'll post off an information sheet I was given when doing the lights in Norway durimg Dec / Jan 2011/12. It's a few years old and was written up by a pro togger for the cruise. The only thing that changes is if and when the Lady Aurora decides where and when to turn up.

Had decided to do it again this year but my recent cataract eye op has caused some issues which require further treatment(s)?
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Shutter speeds longer than 25-30 seconds will smudge the stars so use ISO to keep the stars relatively crisp.
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Here is a link to the shots I took earlier in the year in case you are interested :-)
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Old 26th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Also, once you have your exposure worked out you can set the camera up to do timelapses!
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Spotted this developing thread on the Oly SLR forum at dpreview...

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58033909
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Get yourself a small head torch - you'll be using manual focus and will need it to check that you're focused at infinity. I've got one with a red LED which is supposed to help preserve your night vision, although I'm not convinced it makes a huge difference.
Gloves-look for a pair with fold back fingertips for thumb and index finger such as - (but not necessarily these particular ones):
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unisex-Thin.../dp/B00FZOVIZW
Wrap up warmly - it will always get much colder than you can imagine when you're standing around waiting...hat essential, thermal underwear desirable!
Remember to switch off image stabiliser when using tripod.
Use manual setting. ISO can be anything from 800 to 3200 depending on how bright the aurora is, but to see structure within the aurora you'll need to limit exposure times to 20 seconds or less. Use widest aperture available (f2.8 on the 12-40). It might take a bit of trial and error until you get the right exposure on the night. The camera sensor will see the aurora much better than your eyes, but a good bright aurora will be stunning just to look at. You probably won't see the colours as clearly as your camera does, but greens should be obvious and you might possibly see reds and purples.
I took these pics last November on a trip to Tromso in northern Norway. The aurora was very bright and exposure was only 4 secs at f2.8, ISO 800. I even managed some handheld photos taken from a moving ship at ISO 3200, 1 second exposure, but that was very unusual and not really recommended:

tmp_11249-20151211-PC1104212093100917 by DavidMB2006, on Flickr

tmp_11249-PC110416-1290848020 by DavidMB2006, on Flickr

I've recently discovered an excellent site for UK aurora alerts, which has an app you can download to your smartphone:
https://www.glendaleskye.com/aurora-alerts/

Highly recommended!
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Old 28th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

Thank you for all those advices. Appreciate it all.

So let me start a short recap.

1) Human must be protected from the cold. Got my Columbia Winter jacket. (from my trip to Hokkaido)

2) Ordered another pair of Photographers Glove.

So much for the human stuff. Now the camera stuff. Sticking with the 12-40/2.8

Starting with Gears

1) Remove filters or buy good ones. Think I got a Hoya Pro on that 12-40
2) Bring lots of batteries. Bring battery grip. I had the bad experience when I was in Harbin many years ago. The cold BLMs just die on my after about 20 or so shots. Since then, the batteries inside pocket in the jacket. Swap all the time
3) Tripod Thinking of just bringing my Verbon.

4) Shutter release ( Think I got a cable release somewhere) may try that wireless but the batteries, CR123 won't last)

Did I miss anything?

Camera Settings.

IainMacD, how do you mark the infinity? Is it not like setting it to MF then turning it all the way? I have never used the MF on the 12-40, is there a physical stopper on the Focus ring?

BTW, Love those shots you took.

Naughty Nigel, can I come and camp in your backyard? Would be cheaper than a trip to Finland.

ISO 800 to 3200. 20s-30 if it's bright enough, even lower shutter. Aperture at Full open.

crimbo, TimeLapses? Can I use that Live comp instead?

Advice on how to do that TimeLapes. Never done that before.

drmarkf, Don't keep that hope up too high...I have a history of fumbling everything out
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Old 28th July 2016
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Re: Planning to go & see the aurora lights

You can use Live comp but once you have worked out the exposure for the Aurora You are seeing then you can set the time lapse and let the camera take the images while you enjoy the experience

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