Friday, May 15, 2015

My Arctic Circle Story (Ep. 4 - Final)

This might likely be the last episode of my Arctic Circle story. I'm going to focus only on the topic of how to photograph the Aurora. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm not a pro-photographer, I only learnt these tips from YouTube and reading from internet. I just want to share how I captured the Aurora Borealis. So if you are interested, read on.

Aurora Borealis at Ersfjordbotn, in Tromso, Norway. The little red guy there at the bottom center of the picture is me trying to take a picture of the Aurora.
(Picture credit: Nikita Pere, another awesome solo traveler I met in Tromso)
1) Basic Equipment

- DSLR camera - or any camera that has the option for manual setting (i.e change aperture, shutter speed, ISO, timer, white balance). I used Nikon D7000.

- Tripod - a must have item.

- Wide angle lens, especially with f/2.8. The smaller this f number, the better. I used a 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for this aurora shot.

- Spare batteries - because in colder temperature the battery may dry out quite fast.

2) Camera Setting

- ISO: High ISO setting is required. It ranges from ISO1000 to maybe ISO2000 or higher, depending on the ambient lights at the surrounding.

- Aperture: I set it at smallest 'f'' number I can, based on the lens I used. In my case, it was f/2.8.

- Shutter speed: Similar like ISO setting, it varies depending on the ambient lights, as well as the intensity of the aurora itself. My setting ranged from 10secs to 25secs exposure. You have to keep on trying and changing the shutter speed setting to get the best exposure. Because of this long exposure requirement, that's why a tripod is a must.

- White balance: This was something I didn't know much. But my friend Nikita told me to use 5000K for the white balance setting to bring up the dark-blue-ish colour temperature of the night sky. 'Warmer' white balance setting will make the dark sky turns slightly brownish-yellowish.

- Change to manual focus on your lens, and set the focus to be at infinity. In the dark you cannot rely on the auto-focus as most of the times your camera won't be able to focus in the darkness.

- You can either use a remote shutter, or you can also the built in auto-timer on your camera (e.g. 2secs or 5secs). We do not want to have any vibration at the camera when the shutter opens for long period of time or else the image captured will be blurry.

3) Others

There's only one final thing.. well, perhaps two things.

First, wear warm clothing and use proper snow boots if the area is covered in snow. You need to be standing outside in the cold for hours.

Second, be patient. Be extra patient...

It may not be clear in this picture, but there were purple and blue-ish colors too in this aurora.

A shooting star decided to join the aurora party.

These are the very first set of pictures when  I first saw the aurora in my whole life. Taken at Skibotn near Tromso, Norway.
My camera setting were a bit haywire. I used auto WB therefore the color appears to be a little bit 'warm'.

My jaw dropped upon seeing the lights dancing and flickering in the sky above my head at Ersfjordbotn, Tromso, Norway.
Speechless moment it was.
That's roughly how I captured the aurora that I saw during my short trip to Tromso. However beautiful you may see it on a picture, it is much much much more beautiful and breathtaking in the real life. You just have to see it by yourself. It was such a spectacular and memorable experience for me.

I'm lost for words...

P/s: You can read about how to search or chase the aurora in my Ep. 3 here.



Anonymous said...

salam.... masyaAllah those are amazing photos Nik. Didn't know you went all the way to capture the beauty in person. The beautiful pic just made me smile coz its just soo pretyyy. Kudos for the effor. Should try to sell your pics online or something + give the $$ to charity.

Such a talented friend lah !

EnAikAY said...

Wa'alaikumussalam MJ.
Thanks for your comments. Yes it was beautiful indeed. I can still clearly remember the moment the aurora came flashing from the dark sky. Amazing experience.

And yeah I've been thinking to setup a proper website for my pics.. just not sure when can it be implemented :)

Unknown said...

Perkenalkan, saya dari tim kumpulbagi. Saya ingin tau, apakah kiranya anda berencana untuk mengoleksi files menggunakan hosting yang baru?
Jika ya, silahkan kunjungi website ini untuk info selengkapnya.

Di sana anda bisa dengan bebas share dan mendowload foto-foto keluarga dan trip, music, video, resepi dalam jumlah dan waktu yang tidak terbatas, setelah registrasi terlebih dahulu. Gratis :)