Finally, last night, I got some decent northern lights photography. I’ve chased this off and On throughout the years. Gone out on some deep dark sky nights, nada. So instead, this first & decent photos were taken on the longest day of the year.
Dark dark night lasted from 10:50 PM to 2:37 AM. Before & after then is the time called astronomical twight. Then nautical twilight, civil twilight, sunrise/sunset, and daylight. The fifteen & a half hours of daylight stretched from 5 AM to nearly 8:30 PM. Not exactly ideal conditions for night sky photography. But the sun sneezed and it was perfect conditions for an aurora. FMI on these times, visit TimeAndDate dot com. FMI on Aurora forecasting.
The equipment. A Nikon D7100 DLSR with an 18-300 mm f/3.5-5 lens (not exactly a fast lens). A sturdy tripod, i.e. The MeFOTO GlobeTrotter. Having good equipment is only the beginning. Great photography technique coaxes out stunning pictures.
Some of the settings: Manual mode. ISO @ 1600 or greater. Aperture wide open. Shutter speed between 10 to 30 seconds. Make sure to have Digital Noise Reduction set to on. This means that camera processing time takes as long as the shutter speed. 30 second shutter equals 30 seconds of processing. White Balance at Auto.
Pick your site ahead of time. This site is about a mile from the house and looks across open fields. It is not low to the horizon, instead it gently rises. If you can get a clear space up higher, or a view across a lake, bay, or the ocea would be even more ideal.
Don’t be afraid to play with settings. And just play, like this twenty second exposure of fireflies.