Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Attempt to catch the Aurora Borealis

I went out last month, in the freezing cold, tripod in hand, to try to capture the northern lights. No luck at all. Frustrated I returned home and dug out the laptop, determined to learn more about f-stops and shutter speeds and the ISO function of my manual setting. When I start to read up about it my mind goes blank, like it did in high school, and I may as well have been reading Greek...that's about how much sense it made to me. I was disgusted and put away the notion of learning about it on my own. But, I have such a passion to understand it all and have been fiddling around on and off, and I'm told there is a "For Dummies" book about EOS cameras. I just may pick one up.
Since then I've put it on the back burner, content to use the camera in automatic settings. However, the allure of taking scenic photographs, which is what I'm aiming for rather than portraits, is always in the back of my mind.
Sunday night, as we were taking the kids for a nightly toboggan ride, we saw the crisp northern lights flashing away in their bright colors of green, yellow and red. In the country or on the deck at the cabin I'm sure they would have been whispering and crackling...something I've only ever heard once and it was amazing. I was filled with renewed desire to dig out the camera and play around with those Greek settings again.
When I read this morning of the solar storm that is causing airways to delay flights due to the strong magnetic force of the storm, I zipped over to my northern lights website for a review of other night-sky watchers. And I was right: Sunday's beautiful display had been captured by many others, mostly in Sweden, where the magnetic force seems to be the strongest, although it is all connected around the north pole:
As you can see, above Canada can only see the weakest strength of the northern lights. Even so, we can still experience some intense and amazing light shows on the right nights.

Here is a shot from one of my favorite northern lights photographers Bjorn Jorgensen of Arctic Photo.no, taken on Sunday night:

Beautiful! And we were only seeing the tail end of this gorgeous display!

So, with the solar storm hitting Earth this morning, tonight will be a fantastic opportunity to watch the northern lights at their best. I wrote down the settings my camera should be at according to another amateur photographer, and will head out tonight to give it a try.
Hopefully mother nature will work with me and clear off any cloud cover there may be later on!

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