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Thread: Aurora Borealis

  1. #1
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    Aurora Borealis

    It's come the season to shoot auroras again :thumbsup:

    I originally did this on my power shot sx100 and got results like these:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/karljoh...7605850896651/
    What I want to do now is try to shoot them on my pentax spotmatic IB - a 35 mm format SLR from the 1960s ...it has a bulb mode, and the 55mm 1.8 lens on it.

    - i'm just learning film, and was looking for some pointers. I know all about what settings to use on digital and how to take photos of the lights, but I was wondering if there were any hidden kinks when shooting in film. I would probably need something like 400 ASA film (not decided on which yet, possibly kodak) at the very least and am looking for recommendations. Does anyone have experience with shooting the Northern Lights in film? If so please get back to me

    I figure the 35mm format will yield much better, clearer photos with tons more quality and clarity if I get the formula right for shooting them. What I do is preview the settings on my powershot and then set the pentax. Am i on the right track or am I totally bonkers and will my results be as clear as I think they will be, (justified by the full frame sensor)?

  2. #2
    Stop Or I'll Shoot Photography Lori11's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    BEAUTIFUL! I would love to see that in person, Can't wait to see more!

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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    Me and you both, Lori, I hope my film shots come out. The lens is a bit small on the degree of view, but we'll see what I can manage with

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    Junior Member Phaeton's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    Hi Kajuah,

    This is my first post so I should introduce myself, My name is Bill Hitchens and I live on the lower shore of Maryland about 25 miles from the Ocean.

    I used Kodak 400 ASA for most of my shots with a 30 second time exposure for weak display's.

    Edit to add; I did a little research on the sx100 and it looks like a good camera and 15 second time exposure should be plenty for your location. I think the night pictures in your gallery are really good and better than my film shots, they will be hard to beat. You will be taking pictures long before we will down here, you lucky guy

    Your post caught my eye because I'm looking for a new camera for Solar Cycle 24 and thought this forum would be a good place to find some help with my selection.

    I used film during Cycle 23 with my old "Petri Racer, 45mm, f1.8" but I want to go Digital for Cycle 24 for several reasons but my film camera did a very nice job even if it is an antique.

    First; If you look at my picture #3 taken from the beach of Assateague Island (the bright light in the background is Ocean City Maryland) on Nov. 6, 2001 you can see that it is overexposed by a bunch. I should have used a two or three second exposure but this was the strongest storm I had photographed and I overexposed almost all of my pictures but didn't know it until my film was developed.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/g...v01_page3.html

    Second; You may not have this problem in Canada because your local photo labs have probably developed many pictures of the Aurora but here in Maryland it was new to them, they didn't realize you can take pictures of the Aurora as far south as Texas, they had never developed pictures of the lights before and many were ruined.

    Third; speed, no trip to the photo lab to take the film in and then go back to pick it up, plus you only make copies of the best shots.

    Lastly, now this one is pure vanity , I will never make the front page of spaceweather or NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day using film, your pictures have to be among the first submitted.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/index.html
    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html

    You may want to take a few time exposures of a quarter moon (or less) and check the sharpness of the background stars, this is one area I hope to improve with a good digital camera.

    HappY Trails
    Bill
    ^v^
    ps; The Sun is just coming out of Solar minimum and the activity for Cycle 24 has not really started yet but it should start a year or so before Solar maximum in 2011, if anyone is interested in photographing the Aurora I can provide real time links to data so you will know when to take your camera out, that is the real trick, knowing when to look up, it can come and go very quickly and unnoticed by many.
    Last edited by Phaeton; 08-20-2008 at 08:47 AM.

  5. #5
    Stop Or I'll Shoot Photography Lori11's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    Ok, I want to see photo's :lol:

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    Senior Member danic's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    Some nice photo's there Bill and welcome to the forum.

    I just received a Pentax Spotmatic as well, with what sounds like the same lens, Super-Tak 55mm? Suposedly they are a very nice lens. I'll be putting a roll through it this weekend and see what the results are like.

    As for film recommedations, you might want to look at maybe 200 speed film to reduce your grain? Not too sure on your shutter times though, I guess that will be your determining factor.

    Post up photo's when your done
    danic



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    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    I have never shot or seen the aurora borealis so I don't have any first had advice to offer. I can tell you that when it comes to film, I have a couple favorites. One is Velvia 50 which I'm thinking is too slow for what you want. The other is Provia 400. It's kind of pricey, but it's a great film. Great color and fine grain. A plus with slide film is that you see what is on the film, not the lab guys interpretation of what they think it should be.
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    hello all i nearly gave up on this thread ! Thank you very much, bill, for your amazing advice ! since i made this thread I have been searching the net and reading up on as much as I can to do with photographing the lights, what kind of film to use (velvia 50 is a highly recommended brand but i am going to go with kodak gold and fujifilm superia 200 for now to test things out). I plan to do some test shots and would love to hear more about your experiences photographing the lights, Bill, also I would like to hear more about that aurora-chart.

    I've seen times when the aurora is supposed to be active and it isn't, most times it's only when the night is at it's pure darkest and that varies a lot with the season.

    can't wait to catch some more

  9. #9
    Junior Member Phaeton's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    Thank you all for the warm welcome,

    I came across this link for some film comparisons http://www.robertreeves.com/colneg.htm

    I'm sure you already know most of this stuff but you may find some of these links helpful, I'm looking foreword to seeing some more pictures, you have already got me cleaning my camera, hey. I just found 3 rolls of 6 year old film, wonder if it's still good? hehe

    I think Cary Oler(sp) is still doing the forecast notes at the bottom of the solar terrestrial dispatch http://www.spacew.com/ (he is usually very accurate), his team provides satellite owners with current solar conditions, the X class flares to come will have them climbing the walls during solar maximum.


    this Kp plot http://gedds.pfrr.alaska.edu/akasofu/Last5.gif shows the Aug 9 and July 12 Kp at "5" and the two storms were about 27 days apart (one full rotation), the normal solar wind is about like it is today at about 425 km/sec but it was about 625 km/sec on the Aug 9th and July 12th, the wind came from the coronal hole that's about to rotate out of view, if the coronal hole holds together on the backside is may provide Canada with more Aurora on or about Sep. 5th when it comes around again. I hope you get a chance to try the film camera, maybe you could get a few pictures with both cameras and we could do a comparison.

    Spaceweather http://spaceweather.com/index.php provides all of the most important information until the sunspots return.

    today's data aug 21
    solar wind = 425 +/- http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ace/MAG_SWEPAM_2h.html
    Kp = 1 +/- http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/kp_3d.html
    Bz: -0.2 nT south +/-
    poes aurora oval http://www.spacew.com/www/aurvis.gif
    the poes aurora oval below shows the red limit of the Aurora and what a Kp 5 would look like, we need a Kp 7 to get pictures from here.

    august 9 spaceweather http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?...h=08&year=2008

    solar wind = 643 3 km/sec (615.5 on Jul 12) (fast-moving stream of electrically charged particles (electrons and ions)
    Kp=5 (Kp = 5 on Jul 12) (from the Kp map below the aurora covered most of Canada)
    Bz: -5.1 nT south (? south on Jul 12) (the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth was south or negative) The IMF or more specifically the Bz needs to be "South" to see the Aurora. Using a bird as an example with the charged particles as the wind, atmosphere as feathers and Earth as the body of the bird. Positive or North Bz would be like the wind hitting the bird from the front and gliding around the outside of the bird but Negative or South Bz would be like the wind hitting the bird from the back side, flaring the feathers out and allowing the wind to flow into the body of the bird. The Bz can and sometimes does change from Negative to Positive in the beginning of the activity and when it does the Aurora may be very brief.


    poes aurora oval http://www.spacew.com/www/aurvis.gif


    Happy Trails
    Bill
    ^v^
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    All interested, here is a night I had experimenting with flash (to get me in the picture) and the northern lights on my old canon powershot sx100.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/karljohnston/2785659485/

    I also did some work with the spotmatic, on much brighter lights than these, and I can't wait to yield the results. Fujifilm superia 200 seems a good make, and I have notes of me taking pictures at 1.8 aperture, infinity focal length, one shot of 10 seconds, another of 15 seconds and a final one where I held open the shutter manually and managed to get (hopefully) a 35 second exposure. Can't wait to get the results back from the lab.

  11. #11
    Junior Member Phaeton's Avatar
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    Re: Aurora Borealis

    I would like to see your film shots Kajuah, 10, 15 and 35 was a good idea.

    I think I've found a digital for this cycle and plan to use both digital and film.

    Bill
    ^v^

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