Aurora in Iceland

Discussion in 'Astrophotography' started by Cederic, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    283
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    10 days in Iceland, masses of aurora activity. 2 hours of night without cloud cover.

    So this is the best I could do :(
    _-2-L.

    ISO1600, 6 seconds at f2.8, bumped the exposure a stop in post and tweaked the highlights to show a little better. Lots of noise reduction.
     
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  2. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    905
    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    Out of interest, what was the challenging part about it? I've never tried shooting the aurora, so your thoughts would be helpful for future reference! :)
     
  3. AG_Alex2097

    AG_Alex2097 Mu-43 Regular

    194
    Dec 18, 2015
    Alex S.
    Clear skies is always the challenging part ;)
    Then the exposure, if the aurora isn't that strong (<kp5), you should bump up ISO, because anything over 6 seconds tends to just create a smudge and you don't get the nice looking curtains.

    @OP did you not try pushing the ISO to 3200? It's better to get more light information at the cost of more noise in the dark areas as opposed to lower iso but having to pull up the whole exposure in post (which essentially amplifies noise). Still a good attempt though, at least you managed to capture them! :)
     
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  4. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    905
    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    Haha yes, the clear skies part I'm familiar with, having visited Iceland several times over the years and and each time failing to even see the aurora! Thanks for the exposure tips!
     
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  5. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    283
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    Agreed completely. Photos facing the other direction were working well at iso1600 and don't need pulling. Just didn't get the time to properly explore and test; literally five minutes after this shot everything had stopped :(

    You couldn't even see this one to the naked eye; I have the 'is there anything happening here' shot that precedes this and shows the funnel effect forming, so I grabbed a second. Plus this was the first time I'd ever seen the Northern Lights, so lots of photography time was lost to just admiring it.

    So no, nothing at 3200.
     
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  6. AG_Alex2097

    AG_Alex2097 Mu-43 Regular

    194
    Dec 18, 2015
    Alex S.
    Ah alright, bit of a bummer, but it's better to spend more time admiring than fiddling with the camera and missing most of it, especially if you don't often have the opportunity ;)
     
  7. Vheissu

    Vheissu Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    36
    Jul 30, 2016
    Joshua
    It's always tough to balance photographing the aurora with just enjoying the spectacle. It shifts so quickly and completely disappear without warning. A camera sensor will boost the colours but can't reproduce the dancing movement that the eye sees. When they are really active even six seconds may be too long. The photos below weren't taken in Iceland, just my backyard, at six seconds/ISO1600 and they feel a little smudgy to me. Not great shots by any measure but they work for showing my friends and family what they missed by going to bed at a reasonable hour. This is the strongest I've ever seen them within city limits; I took about a dozen shots and then they were gone. Lots of noise with the E-M1; if I had the disposable income for it I would love to get an Sony A7SII and try to catch the aurora on video.

    IMG_0055.

    IMG_0054.
     
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  8. tflovik

    tflovik Mu-43 Regular

    52
    May 19, 2012
    Finnsnes, Norway
    Tom Eirik
    I use the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 for photographing the aurora.
    Since it has f/2.0 i often use ISO 1000 and seldom have to go higher than ISO 1600.
    I am waiting for tha Laowa 7,5mm f/2,0, if that lens is good then i will replace the Olympus 12mm. I dont think the 12mm is wide enough for most of the aurora photographing i do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
  9. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    283
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    The comedy is we toured Iceland anti-clockwise; had we gone clockwise we'd have had an aurora visible 5-6 nights. The clouds just kept forming over the bits we were in.

    But I'm now fighting the desire to buy a very fast very wide lens and letting myself get addicted to aurora hunting. Maybe I should just move somewhere very northerly.
     
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  10. tflovik

    tflovik Mu-43 Regular

    52
    May 19, 2012
    Finnsnes, Norway
    Tom Eirik
    Where i live in Northern Norway there is plenty of nights with auarora. Here is a picture i took with Panasonic G7 and Olympus 12mm.
    P1000242_DxO.
     
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  11. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    905
    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    May I ask what your exposure settings were for that shot?
     
  12. tflovik

    tflovik Mu-43 Regular

    52
    May 19, 2012
    Finnsnes, Norway
    Tom Eirik
    ISO 640, f/2.0, 4s, manual focus. It was full moon so i didnt have to go higher with the ISO.
     
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  13. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    905
    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    Thanks, useful to know. Do you find a full moon beneficial with aurora then? My instinct would be the opposite, since a bright moon is usually a handicap for most astrophotography, since it can often act as a form of light pollution. But then I suppose that the aurora are a different animal.
     
  14. tflovik

    tflovik Mu-43 Regular

    52
    May 19, 2012
    Finnsnes, Norway
    Tom Eirik
    I have never felt that the moon degrades the aurora pictures i take, i think it is the opposite since it allows me to use a lower ISO. Here is another aurora picture, the moon was not full but it is behind the house.

    P3030064.
     
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  15. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    283
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    I don't know many Norwegians. Although I went out with one once. She married a guy from Sweden in the end.
    But anyway, are Norwegians nice? Should I go and visit? Lots of pretty skies! You're making me very jealous.
     
  16. 3dpan

    3dpan Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Mar 11, 2017
    Far North, New Zealand
    Alec
    Almost makes me want to go and live in Norway. (I said almost).
    Cheers,
     
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  17. tyy

    tyy Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Jan 17, 2017
    Finland
    Timo Ylhainen
    Nice shots.

    Auroras, and astrophotography in general, would benefit from using a much larger sensor to mitigate the noise.

    But you can do quite nice with m43 also. I have done some auroras, but not so much I would consider small sensor a limitation for me.