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Thread: Northern Lights?

  1. #1

    Default Northern Lights?

    Did anyone catch them last night? Apparently the view from the Matsu was great... I did about strangle my friend though, until she promised to call me no matter what next time she sees them - I slept through it!

  2. #2

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    You have not seen Northern Lights, till they fill the entire sky, and as they whip back and forth they hum, moan and crackle.

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    that's a pretty accurate description of last night around 11:30 pm.

    looking pretty good for tonight too, though sometimes it fades by the time it gets around to AK.

    i'm referring to the sat feed linked below, updated every half hour or hour. Reading 6 right now, was reading 6-7 last night when the lights were really humming. needs to be at least 4 in my experience to see anything from mat-su area. if you check a few times you will see the oval rotating around to where AK is in the thick part from about 10pm to 2am.

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/pmap/index.html

  4. #4

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    Well, I got some last night! Not very good shots, I just caught the tail end of the show so I didn't have a chance to adjust settings. I'm still just psyched that I've finally gotten to see them.


    Lights 010.jpgLights 009.jpg

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    Friday night at Chena Lakes, North Pole

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    man Ray...
    what a sight..
    thanks for sharing your incredible view
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  7. #7

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    Very nice Ray. Beautiful.
    There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.

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    Thanks!

    It was pure luck for me to be there at the right time. The lights were so wide across the horizon that I could only pick what I thought was the best spot and go for that. They were moving like crazy

    By the way:
    -Canon 40D, mirror luck-up, plus a 2-second timer
    -Tokina lens at 11mm and f/2.8, MF at infinite
    -400 ISO
    -25-second shots

    Something else: reduced digital noise in CS5, but with the "Neat Image" plugin instead of Camera Raw.

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  10. #10

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    Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

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    Member wolverineldy's Avatar
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    Love it...Awesome....just plain Beautiful...TY for sharing
    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    Phil 4:13

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    Thanks!

    It was pure luck for me to be there at the right time. The lights were so wide across the horizon that I could only pick what I thought was the best spot and go for that. They were moving like crazy

    By the way:
    -Canon 40D, mirror luck-up, plus a 2-second timer
    -Tokina lens at 11mm and f/2.8, MF at infinite
    -400 ISO
    -25-second shots

    Something else: reduced digital noise in CS5, but with the "Neat Image" plugin instead of Camera Raw.
    Interesting! A few ideas for discussion...

    Mirror lockup doesn't have much effect when the exposure times are 25 seconds, so that's not really doing any good, but does no harm either. I can't say without looking at the original images, but does the Canon 40D actually have any visible noise at ISO 400??? I doubt that it does, which means running a noise reduction process on it will only have the effect of blurring certain types of high frequency noise. If you do that on the full size image before down scaling it for the web it makes no difference (the downscaling removes the same frequencies), but for a print it would do more harm than good.

    Another thing that affects sharpness is the lens' aperture. I'm not familiar with the Tokina 11mm, but would expect to get noticeable improvement if it is stopped down to at least f/4, maybe even f/5.6. That can be compensated for (or not too!) by increasing the ISO or increasing the exposure in post processing. Both of those obviously will in fact increase the noise too, so the effect would be (at least with a Canon 40D) to make noise reduction in post processing actually useful. Probably worth doing though.

    And one last thing would be to cut the exposure time to less than 20 seconds, perhaps to 15 or even 10 seconds. One effect will be to eliminate the "star trail" effect on the stars. Instead of short lines they'll be points of light. It also happens that it affects the aurora too, and often in a good way. That is because the display is moving, and hence changing the exposure time doesn't reduce the brightness of the image if, and only if, it actually is a moving display. Instead it gives a shorter exposure and a sharper image. It doesn't have that effect on more static auroral activity though, so it depends on the particular display being photographed as to whether it improves things or not.

    There are not very many things that I miss about living in the Interior compared to Barrow, but since we get just as much aurora and rarely ever get to see it because of the cloud cover, photographing it in the Interior is something I miss. In the mid and late 1980's when there was a phenomenal peak in activity I was driving between Salcha and Pedro Dome every night either coming or going from work at midnight. Sometimes the only thing to do was pull over an just watch the aurora because rubbernecking and driving was just too dangerous and the displays were impossible not to gawk at!

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    Can you just post an example of one of your photos of the Auroras, Floyd?

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Can you just post an example of one of your photos of the Auroras, Floyd?
    I enjoy the Auroras and the diversity of every one of them.
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    Can you just post an example of one of your photos of the Auroras, Floyd?
    I've had an image of the aurora on my homepage for years. And I have dozens of others (and I am in no way prepared to say that any of them are better, or worse, than anyone else's aurora pictures). That has nothing to do with discussion of the technical aspects of photographing aurora.

    You have wonderful aurora pictures. So do lots of folks. But this is a photography forum and helping others figure out how to get equally wonderful images is part of the intended purpose, eh? I didn't comment on your photographs, but you posted technical data and I did think that was appropriate to discuss, since you thought it appropriate to post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
    I've had an image of the aurora on my homepage for years. And I have dozens of others (and I am in no way prepared to say that any of them are better, or worse, than anyone else's aurora pictures). That has nothing to do with discussion of the technical aspects of photographing aurora.

    You have wonderful aurora pictures. So do lots of folks. But this is a photography forum and helping others figure out how to get equally wonderful images is part of the intended purpose, eh? I didn't comment on your photographs, but you posted technical data and I did think that was appropriate to discuss, since you thought it appropriate to post.
    Can you read the exif data of my photos?

    Anyway, why should I hijack this thread to talk about "technicalities" other than exif data? Instead, I let my photo tell its own story, and I am certain that the OP would welcome one of your photos, too.

    And by mistake I wrote "25" seconds in my previous post instead of 15 seconds.

  17. #17
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    Can you read the exif data of my photos?

    Anyway, why should I hijack this thread to talk about "technicalities" other than exif data? Instead, I let my photo tell its own story, and I am certain that the OP would welcome one of your photos, too.

    And by mistake I wrote "25" seconds in my previous post instead of 15 seconds.
    Drop the attitude, Ray.

    I wasn't looking for, nor am I interested in, "mistakes". Who cares. And while you may not be interested in the technical aspects of making good photographs, there is no reason that others should not be, or that it shouldn't be discussed.

    On the topic of the artistic characteristics of aurora photography, frankly I think it fits with other subjects that are images of colored light sources: sunrise/sunset, fireworks, Christmas lights, and so on. The problem is that on any given day almost everyone in the world gets to see a great sunrise or sunset, they all photograph well, they can all be post processed to a huge number of great looking variations... and making just one photograph that stands out from those multitudes is both unlikely and almost a veritable waste of time for any halfway effort.

    The essence is, there's no real challenge.

    Everyone should perhaps try it once or twice and get one good picture. Past that, either skip it or really do it right and learn everything there is to know about the fine nuances. The aurora has only the slight distinction of being a bit less common than a sunset, though fascinating photographs of it clearly are not even close to rare, and everyone who ever tries it gets something "nice".



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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
    Drop the attitude, Ray.

    I wasn't looking for, nor am I interested in, "mistakes". Who cares. And while you may not be interested in the technical aspects of making good photographs, there is no reason that others should not be, or that it shouldn't be discussed.

    On the topic of the artistic characteristics of aurora photography, frankly I think it fits with other subjects that are images of colored light sources: sunrise/sunset, fireworks, Christmas lights, and so on. The problem is that on any given day almost everyone in the world gets to see a great sunrise or sunset, they all photograph well, they can all be post processed to a huge number of great looking variations... and making just one photograph that stands out from those multitudes is both unlikely and almost a veritable waste of time for any halfway effort.

    The essence is, there's no real challenge.

    Everyone should perhaps try it once or twice and get one good picture. Past that, either skip it or really do it right and learn everything there is to know about the fine nuances. The aurora has only the slight distinction of being a bit less common than a sunset, though fascinating photographs of it clearly are not even close to rare, and everyone who ever tries it gets something "nice".
    Oops! Not my attitude Floyd, but an admission to indicate that my photo’s exposure was for 15 seconds instead of 25. I was responding to this suggestion of yours a post of two above:
    And one last thing would be to cut the exposure time to less than 20 seconds, perhaps to 15 or even 10 seconds.
    You have posted a very “nice” photo of the Auroras. But the one I would really enjoy viewing is “one that stands out from those multitudes” you are referring to above.

    Also, it’s not my place to suggest to you lens aperture, ISO speed, nor anything else. Your photo is nice, regardless of what methods you used to take it.

    In relation to techniques and such: it's not that I am not interested in discussing such. What I wasn't interested on was hijacking somebody else's thread, but it's too late now. Maybe one of us should start a thread to discuss such things instead of screwing-up this one further?

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    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    WOW... Incredible shot!

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    From last night:

    This one shows a military cargo aircraft lights as it flies toward Eielson AFB:

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