Thursday, September 3, 2015

Just Another Sleepless Night In Paradise

Conditions were right for a Northern Lights display during the Glacier Bay photo tour, and most of the group was game for getting up at 1am to venture forth. We stepped outside our lodge and were greeted by an incredible display. A variety of swirling, undulating, and flashing lights in shades of green and reddish-purple chased all across the sky.

I had seen this spectacular phenomenon only once before, and that was fleetingly from a jetliner crossing the wilds of northern Canada in the middle of the night. No way to photograph it, so I was thrilled to be able to see AND photograph it this time.

The display lasted about 2 hours and all we could say was WOW!! over and over again. What a thrill for all of us.

I was surprised that the colors looked more intense on my camera's view screen than to my eyes. Apparently this is not unusual.

Exposure was easy. See details below. While most of us have limited opportunities to see the Northern Lights, if you ever travel to places where they are viewable, I highly recommend it. It is a feast for the eyes and the soul.

Shutter Speed 15 seconds.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 400. Set lens to manual focus and then focus on infinity. Set camera to Manual and preset shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO before heading out. Check histogram after a few test shots. Often Exposure Compensation of +1 or +2 is needed.
Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4 set at 17mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Northern Lights wall earth with fire."  -R.P.T Coffin


  1. Are you sure those are the correct camera settings?

  2. Yes, those are the settings I used. There are a variety of ways to photograph the Aurora Borealis, depending on the type of display and the speed with which it moves. In any case, 15 seconds is the longest shutter speed that should be used if you do not want to show the movement of the stars, which I did not.

  3. WOW! Wonderful! Knew this was on your bucket list for awhile.. Good job!