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Thread: Tips on shooting and settings for Aurora

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    Member Matto's Avatar
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    Tips on shooting and settings for Aurora

    Hi all,

    Will be heading over to Alaska in September, and wondering if anyone can give recommendations for settings etc for capturing the Northern Lights.

    I have Canon EOS 5D MK3 + Sigma Art 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Lens. Also have Canon 17-40 F4L & 24-105 F4L Lenses, but unless the Aurora is extremely intense, I am thinking they will be too slow.

    Appreciate any advise and tips on shooting the Aurora and settings to use.

    Cheers.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    You may need to increase your ISO depending on how clear the aurora is. But ISO 100. about f4-f8 and shutter speed of up to 1-2 minutes. Use the 17-40 at 17mm as its your widest lens.

    Remember that the aurora comes and goes, and often cloud cover also gets in the way. I use an App on my phone that alerts me to Aurora activity here in Tas. If you have a smartphone just search for aurora in your store to find one.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Thanks for the reply Rick.

    Hope to keep my ISO as low as possible to avoid grainy images. Might give the 17-40 a go, my only concern with longer exposure is star trails. Will be in Alaska early September approaching the equinox, so hoping for some big Coronal Mass Ejections and intense Aurora! We will be hiring motorhomes and driving up to Fairbanks from Anchorage, so won't have the best access to any services. Just hope for the best...

    Just realised your down there in god's country. Love Tassie, was down there in March, just missed the Aurora on the big St Patricks day weekend. Hope to get back down there soon!

    Btw some nice images you have there on your website

    Cheers

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    We were in the Yukon in Feb and did 3 nights of Aurora viewing. Using a 7D with a 10-22 lens, all shot at 10mm and it was opened up as wide as it can go which is F3.5. Most shots were obtained at 30sec with ISO1600. There was no moon at all when we were there - (try to time it with the new moon when you are there) and although the Aurora wasn't that intense the pics all came out fine. So in your case the widest lens possible which is your 17-40 will be fine, esp with 5D's low noise so you could bump ISO up if you had to. Also take a flash or a P&S camera. We got someone to use that to fire the flash while we posed in front of the 7D on the tripod so we got pics with us infront of the Auroras - all came out well.
    My pics can be seen on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/4858383...7632934901417/
    Remember to set the camera in manual mode and manual focus.
    Good luck & happy travels.
    Last edited by Old Skool; 29-07-2013 at 11:24am.

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    Thanks for the info Russell, appreciate the link to your pictures! some beautiful shots you got in the Yukon!! Your shots give me a little more confidence that the 17-40 may be of some use, I was thinking to utilise the speed of the 35mm. Ill be there the week before the new moon, so it will be a slither and not so bright. Will be a group of around 11-12 people, so we should have some fun with some of the pics.

    Cheers mate!
    Canon EOS 5D MKIII - Canon EF17-40mm F4L - Canon EF24-104mm F4L IS - Sigma Art 35mm F1.4 DG HSM - Joby Gorillapod Focus Kit - Manfrotto 055NAT 2 Tripod & 141RCNAT Head - Hoya HD2 UV & Marumi DHG Super CPL Filters - Hahnel Giga T Pro Wireless Remote.

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    I found I was shooting most at 10mm and wished I had an even wider lens to get it all in, so I reckon you'll be fine with the 17-40mm.

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