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Thread: Any tips for photographing the northern lights? Chena Hot Springs Jan 25-31...

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Any tips for photographing the northern lights? Chena Hot Springs Jan 25-31...

    The wife and I are going to spend the last week of January at Chena Hot Springs. I decided to marry my wife while at Chena in Nov 2004. Going back has special meaning. Kind of a last minute idea that popped up this morning and we booked the room and airline tickets today.

    Sipping muscadine wine out of plastic Gatorade bottles while floating around in the hot water. Riding the snow coach up the mountain side to photograph the lights each night. Acting like the tourist we are and gawking at the ice hotel while drinking apple martinis out of ice glasses. Riding the snow machines a few days. Zero to minus 40. It offers just the change in scenery I am looking for at the moment.

    However, I have no experience photographing the lights. Wondered if anyone here might have some suggestions. General camera setting suggestions, basic technique, and such would be most appreciated. I will have two bodies, tripod, remote release, 17-40, 24-105, etc.. Thanks for any comment and feel free to post your favorite lights image here for inspiration and/or example.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Yes, I do. You must use a tripod and you'll need to use a rather long exposure. But you already knew that.

    If you want some forground in the shot, open the shutter and then hit the flash. Leave the shutter open long enough to get the lights. IMHO, the best lights shots also have something else in them, such as a wooded skyline, a cabin, or whatever.

    The exposure time will vary greatly depending on the intensity and color of the lights. A good, bright display might only need 30 seconds. Digital has made this a lot easier since you can instantly look at the results and make adjustments. The moon phase will natually limit or enhance what you can do. A bright, full moon will tend to wash out the image, so a new moon phase is preferred.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Good! you have to go right past my place to get there....
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I thought they closed down the resort up there?

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I thought they closed down the resort up there?
    thats prolly circle HS your thinking of...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    thats prolly circle HS your thinking of...
    Ah, gotcha! Getting up there is on my to-do list.

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    Default don't dawdle

    Not sure about Chena, but down here, sometimes they don't last too long. Sometimes as short as 15 minutes.

    I'll never forget my daughter waking me up to tell me the neighbor's house was burning down. Sure enough, the Northern Lights were dancing just above her roof.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Not sure about Chena, but down here, sometimes they don't last too long. Sometimes as short as 15 minutes.

    I'll never forget my daughter waking me up to tell me the neighbor's house was burning down. Sure enough, the Northern Lights were dancing just above her roof.
    My moose hunting partner, a long time Alaskan, woke me up after a very long day to show me the woods on fire...LOL I enjoy the northern lights but not after a long day rowing.

    Steve
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    Good! you have to go right past my place to get there....

    If you find time to drop in, we would be honored to buy you dinner.

    Being forum member of the year and all


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    If you find time to drop in, we would be honored to buy you dinner.

    Being forum member of the year and all


    -Dan
    well according to scuttle but... you are the next one... seems the MOTY crew have been working over time on the sidelines setting it up...

    i may have to buy you dinner as you'll be to frustrated to see straight...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Default blabbermouth

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    well according to scuttle but... you are the next one... seems the MOTY crew have been working over time on the sidelines setting it up...
    Sh!!!!! It is supposed to be a surprise!

    Its gotta be a short list this year - only Dan or Chuck could follow you, Vince.

    Dan is bigger, but Chuck has a better lookin' boat.... Yet Dan's Harley might trump that...

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Which is cooler depends on where you hang your hat









    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Default one fine ride

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Which is cooler depends on where you hang your hat
    Dan, as much as I love our flag, and the statue of liberty (especially in person, that is way cool), were I you and have my harley in my avatar. That is one fine ride.

    I haven't ridden in almost 20 years, but still have a current endorsement for motorcycles on my license. I started riding almost 4 decades ago when I "borrowed" my brother's bike - and wrecked it that day. Who knew you weren't supposed to use only the front brake while turning, in gravel?

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Easy... or technical...

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    ...Sipping muscadine wine out of plastic Gatorade bottles while floating around in the hot water...-Dan
    Sounds like a great trip, Dan. I also appreciated the wellness pearl quoted above.

    Photographing Northern Lights:
    1. Simple: I like simple bracketing using shutter speed, f-stop or ISO. The Aurora is a moving subject so it makes sense to use the shortest exposures that work. I used a simple point-and-shoot (Optio WPi), set the ISO high then experimented with different exposure times. I donít own any (fast, wide-angle or otherwise) lenses or use any image processing software, but got lucky one Fall night on a steelhead trip using fast ISO setting and random exposure times. Much better images are possible. Depends on what youíre after.

    2. Technical: Of course, better images seem to also require a commitment to some high-end optics (fast, wide lens) or to understand technical stuff about your camera and image-processing software, or both. For me, it amounts to a long run for a short leap, but for you, with lots of gear and know-how already, might be worthwhile.

    3. Links:
    a. http://www.my-photo-blog.com/how-to-...orthern-lights
    b. http://goscandinavia.about.com/od/kn...graphnorth.htm
    c. http://www.royhooper.ca/articles/aurora.html
    d. http://www.alaskaphotographics.com/how_to_photograph_northern_lights.shtml#
    e. http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/histograms.htm
    f. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...stograms.shtml

    If I owned a dSLR and a wide, fast lens probably Iíd still just bracket and shoot many images to sort later. Good luck.

    Dwight/Eagle River

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Thanks Dwight! I really appreciate you taking the time to post the links. That will give me something to read later on my graveyard shift. You know all too well how long these nights can get. As for "wellness" the muscadine is quite healthy indeed. After talking with many folks, including some Phd's at Miss State, I was more than encouraged to endulge. Ha ha.. All BS aside, the muscadine grape has far more resveratrol than other wines. When I found out Bowman Gray (Wake Forest) did a study that supported this, I took the claims quite seriously. My dad went there and I respect any findings that come out of Bowman Gray. Most folks don't know about muscadine wine as the grapes only grow in the southeast US. Also, since it doesn't cost much, the wine community keeps it a secret. They want you buying the premium stuff of course. The last thing they want folks knowing is that an $8 bottle of delicious tasting wine has far more health benefits than the high dollar wine from over seas.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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