These are some notes that compliment my Fourth Aurora Picture Gallery. Here--as in the first, second, and third ( :) ) "Notes on Auroral Photography"--you will find (a little!) on the science and techniques of auroral photography, and a play-by-play of each night that I was actually able to take some pics of the aurora. The aurora RULES!! :) :)
In the way of equipment, I use a Nikon D50 camera, a Tamron AF Aspherical XR DiII LD (IF) 18-200mm lens, and a tripod (a must--due to the long exposures). (I also use a new lens---I can't remember what that is called, at the moment. . . .) So---how did I know what equipment to buy? Well, I just asked our local photographic genius/specialist on the 7th floor of the GI (Geophysical institute), Poul Jensen. Poul *RuLz*!! :) :) :) :)
Pretty much all my exposures are for 30 seconds; however, if the aurora is REALLY BRIGHT (and sometimes this bright aurora can be fast moving), I use shorter exposures. I don't have any real "rules" for this---one just pretty much has to learn this from experience, I think. (I have learned--by hard (and sometimes painful :P ) experience--that one pretty much always wants to over-estimate the required exposure. (What one sees on the camera "screen," isn't always what one sees on a computer screen. . . .)) Don't look to this page for oodles of technical information--as I don't have it. :) I do all this (and pretty much everything else I do in my life :P :) ), pretty much holistically--intuitively. (Um, like, my exposures are a LOT shorter now, 'n stuff. -I have this new lens, and Poul set my aperture setting correctly. . . . :) ;) )
Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention. . . . The naming scheme [for these pics, 'n stuff] is pretty much straightforward. The word "aurora" is followed by a three digit number, which specifies the order in which the "final pics" (MANY more were taken; only the best were chosen. :) ) were taken. The next bit is the date, in "American format" (sorry :P :( )---month.day.final two digits of year. (I leave it up to the intelligence of the reader to know that I have not been taking pictures since 1905---I'm not THAT old!! :) :) ) I used to have a convention of "AM" or "PM" added--to denote whether I went out in the evening or morning; I dropped this. It was cumbersome, and almost . . . well, silly. :) (Please note that I seem to have adopted some form of this convention, again. :) ;) )
10/28/08 Tuesday I knew that a "coronal hole" was expected, and I had already seen the "density hump" [in the solar wind], so, I was allowing for the possibility that, when I went outside to look, I might see some. . . .
My GOD---look at that GORGOUS aurora!!!! :) :) I quickly went in and got my equipment, and starting snapping away. :) :) I couldn't go wrong---wherever I pointed my camera, I was able to take a great shot. One, however, ended up being overexposed. (!!) Now, you know you've got bright aurora---when stuff ends up being overexposed. (!!) :) :)
I didn't run out of aurora, on this one---I ran out of memory [on my camera]. I kept hearing this "little voice" that day---that told me that I should empty those picture of the 2008 GI Halloween party off of there. . . .
10/29/08 Wednesday (No pics.) I stepped out and looked at the sky---right as "the substorm" was starting. Pictures wouldn't've been all that great (There was cloud cover---the aurora was moving too quickly. (. . .)). So, I just stood there and enjoyed it. The display only lasted for about a minute and a half---I managed to (by shear luck :) :) ) hit it just right. I stood there looking at the dancing lights, and feeling that all was right in with world. . . .
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.