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-   -   HELP! Northern Lights (https://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13170)

HazelHay 17th February 2011 02:07 PM

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

wanderer 17th February 2011 02:52 PM

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.:D

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

crimbo 17th February 2011 03:56 PM

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

Cathrine Stephansen 17th February 2011 08:10 PM

Re: Northern Lights
 
And let us see the results! It's really cloudy here in southern Norway. Three days back it was clear and beautiful in Tromsų, but only moderate to low Northern light activity there. Should go back...

Ian 18th February 2011 10:29 AM

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

HazelHay 18th February 2011 10:37 AM

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

crimbo 18th February 2011 10:45 AM

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

davidsa 18th February 2011 10:47 AM

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.

crimbo 18th February 2011 10:53 AM

Re: Northern Lights/moon
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by davidsa (Post 103330)
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

Ian 18th February 2011 11:27 AM

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

davidsa 18th February 2011 11:45 AM

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.

crimbo 18th February 2011 12:39 PM

Photographing the Moon was Re: Northern Lights
 
http://www.paddle.shetland.co.uk/I1102864.jpg

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.

Ellie 18th February 2011 12:40 PM

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/ )

OXO 21st July 2011 09:44 AM

Re: Northern Lights
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wanderer (Post 103226)
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.:D

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. :confused:

photonutter 21st July 2011 11:27 AM

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.


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