OP – The Blog

February 28th, 2011

Green Waves

Posted By Kevin Schafer

Green Waves and Spruce Trees

Auroras are unpredictable creatures.  They can be brash and lively, shimmering and ethereal, or they be gentle and graceful. The latter is what we had last night. We had clear skies, happily, and despite the -25 C. temps. there was little wind, so it was vastly more comfortable being outside than the night before.

The lights began about 9 pm, and seemed to come in waves – half an hour of activity and then fading away, repeating all night long. It was not a dazzling display, but a lovely green wave that morphed in unpredictable ways.  The hint of red was not visible to the eye, but camera found it just on the fringes of the wave.

I was shooting 30 second exposures, which is longer than I like since this allows even crisp shapes to blur into a smear. But these lights were pale : brighter aurora allow much shorter exposures and sharper detail. That’s still what we’re hoping for!

Sunny again today, so we’re hopeful for tonight. The aurora forecast is for quiet activity again tonight, but suggesting more action on Tuesday night.  We just have to hope this glorious weather holds – I can’t tell you how many times great aurora happens above a solid deck of clouds, maddeningly invisible to those of us trapped on the ground.

We had better luck with noise last night by 1) putting NR on the highest setting, and 2) by trying to aim our exposures towards the highlight end of the histogram.

Hopefully, more to come.  Stay tuned…

Nikon D3, 24-70mm lens  ISO 1000, 30 sec.


Please leave a comment

  1. Chandira Says:

    Kevin are you in Seattle at the moment? I should sign up for Aurora alerts. I have lived here 10+ years now and never seen one!
    Another great photo from you. :-)

  2. Kevin Schafer Says:

    As cold as it was in Seattle last week, it’s a whole lot colder up here! Supposed to hit -40 tomorrow night, but there are also predictions of good aurora : if I can just keep from freezing. Thanks for keeping in touch.

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