Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Sick of Aurorae Yet?

Well I'm not.

I walked outside earlier and noticed that tonight is the most active aurora since I've been here in Alaska. It would be perfect, but for one thing - it's a full moon. The moonlight is so bright compared to the aurora light that long and/or high ISO exposures aren't going to work. This leaves me two options:

1. Mope around because these aren't the conditions I had in mind.

2. Be flexible and find the positive in the conditions I was given.

Well let's see... if I shoot away from the moon, I can use it as a fill light on the trees. And since I'm limited to short exposures anyway, how about trying a time lapse? I've been wanting to show you poor, deprived souls in the lower 48 how the aurora moves, since the still photos, beautiful as they are, don't do it justice.
So I set up the camera in the end of the driveway, where I had a good view of some aurora streams behind the trees, and set it to snap one 4 second exposure every 5 seconds. When the still images are used as movie frames at 30 fps, the result is an hour of real time compressed into 23 seconds of video. Equivalently, you could say this video is sped up to 150x normal speed.

I'm still pretty inexperienced with time lapse. I'd actually like to do this with only about 30x speed up, but that will have to wait for a darker night when I can use higher ISO. Or, maybe until I get a nicer camera. And oh, a wider angle lens would be amazing. Hopefully I can make that one happen before too long.

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