Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lighting up the night

The northern lights are one of the perks of living at high lattitudes. They are difficult to capture on film, and although I've been trying this is my best shot to date. I took this picture the other night from just outside our backdoor. We've had a few good aurora nights recently and I've been trying to get a few shots of them whenever possible.
The above shot was taken from a tripod on my Canon G7 powershot with the f-stop set to 2.8 and a 15 second exposure time. The camera does some automatic noise cleaning and outputs the picture as a jpg.
If anyone has any hints for captuing the aurora on film, please share!


Rob & Tina said...

Although I like to claim I'm a photographer, I can never seem to get the camera out of my hubby's hands when the lights come out. I (we) use a Canon Rebel XT. I know he uses the tripod, but as to what the specific settings on the camera I'll ask him and let ya know.

Jen said...

Hey there,
Definitely use a tripod as Tina has suggested! I also like to use the shutter timer, so I am not actually touching the camera pre/during/post shot, to eliminate camera shake. Experiment with longer shutter speeds to see if that gives you a better result and if you shutter won't let you keep it open more then 15 seconds, look up a feature on your camera called "bulb", this will allow you to keep the shutter open as long as you want, in turn being able to close up that apature (f-stop) to get a larger depth of field. I usually do a F5.6 & 20s + exposure.
Your shot here looks great, so you obviously know what you are doing!

The other Vanda said...

This is a beautful picture. The lights just facinate me but sadly I've never seen them.

Dr. J. said...

Perhaps the greatest deficiency of the G7 is the lack of a bulb setting, so 15 seconds is my maximum exposure time (until I upgrade my camera, or Canon upgrades their firmware). Next time the aurora are really brilliant I'll try some different settings and see what turns out!
Dr. J

M/MIL said...

Hi Guys,
We missed reading your blogs while we were in SA...recent blogs are great! Love those pics!
As an aside, they have hundreds of stray dogs roaming aroung Satiago and they're not they're not the petting variety either.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Nice shot. Makes me miss Alaska where I grew up.

ambroseliao said...

Hi Dr. J,

There is a work around for the G7 which involves some post processing.

In the Self Timer settings, there is one called "Custom" which looks like the self timer icon with a big C in it. Once you've set it there, press the Menu button and select the Self-timer setting and press the Set button. You can then tell the G7 to take as many as 10 15 second shots at whatever exposure you are using. You can also change the delay between shots to "0".

After the shots are taken, you can "stack" the images in Photoshop or other photo applications to create a 150 second exposure with your G7. You can also do multiples of this to get as many shots as you need. There are even more options when connected to a laptop...

Hope this is clear and is helpful!

Ambrose Liao
Moderator of the G7-G9 Yahoo group