First Aurora picture attempt…

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    Here are 2 shots I took of auroras today (yes, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon)
    Shutter speed was 15″ for each (the max on my camera) and the apature was 2.6 on the first and 4.0 on the second. I realized later there’s a “superfine” setting on my camera that I wasn’t using, it may help, the pictures just came out too grainy, and a little brighter would be nice, at least for the first one. Any help, comments, anything would be nice. Thanks. I figure the resident expert at pole is Robert Shwarz, and a lot of people have taken some great pictures, but well this is a relatively cheap camera, so I’ll do the best I can.
    Sorry they’re kind of big pictures. I’m not really a photographer, so go easy on me 😉



    A couple hints. First of all you are taking pictures when the moon is up. Right off you are going to have the auroras washed out a little. If you have a cheaper camera, then it will be limited, but read your manual and see what you can change. The big “if” is do you have a B setting. Lot’s of cameras have them without the owners knowing. You’ll have to read the book. During operation in the B setting the shutter stays open the entire time that the shutter button is pressed. 15 seconds is ok but 30 is better.

    See if you can change the ISO rating. Most are preset to 100, but you should try 200 to 400. The higher the number the grainier though.


    [img]C:Documents and SettingsOwnerMy DocumentsMy Picturesfor mattw2kdbb.jpg[img]I haven’t figured out how to insert a photo, but try this. Open your photo with the Microsoft Office Picture manager.
    Under picture select adjust brightness and contrast. Then adjust the midrange slider.
    This will bring out some more detail on your photos at the expense of graininess.


    Having tried taking auroras pictures at McMurdo, I found it to be one of the toughest kinds of photography. Your subject is dim, it moves, and it’s always bloody cold out when they appear. It’s gotta be even worse at the Pole! No teasing here; I know how hard it is.

    Mike’s right about the Bulb setting and ISO adjustments. Some digital cameras also have a long-exposure noise reduction setting that can reduce CCD noise. Other tricks… Use an extension shutter release if you have one. Wide angle lenses at the largest aperture work best, in my experience. Washed-out colors can be Photoshopped. An interesting foreground (the dome?) helps the composition and can make the pics much more dramatic. If you wanted to get fancy you combine a long exposure aurora shot with a single flash to illuminate the foreground.

    I’m set up for auroral photography this year but I’ve never seen them here — too far outside of the auroral oval, which is centered on the other side of the continent. It would take one heck of a solar storm to pump them up to Palmer. But we saw some decent nacreous clouds last year. Nothing like McMurdo’s, which can be spectacular, but still worth a picture.



    We had a heated aurora tower with a clear plastic dome at Scott Base. It was ideal for taking photos. Very comfortable. I don’t know if it’s still there. We had one beam aurora that was so bright that it cast shadows.

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