Shooting the Aurora

Yesterday I spent a good afternoon in the company of two photographers who have a lot of experience in shooting the Aurora. There were a few things that came up that I hadn't considered, so here are my condensed notes from yesterday's meeting:

1. Digital cameras cannot record the entire spectrum of light that an Aurora displays because of the IR filter. 2. You need a relatively short shutter speed - nothing slower than 20 seconds because this will introduce star movement. 3. A wide angle lens is required because Aurora tends to be so large that you need to try to get it all into the frame. 4. A fast lens of f2 or thereabouts is preferable, but since the advent of high-iso digital cameras, an ISO rating of 800 is a good starting point 5. Shooting when there is some moon light is preferable because it means contextual objects, such as buildings require less dynamic range. The downside to this is if the Aurora is weak, the moonlight may reduce the visibility of it. 6. Fuji Provia 400X is the only option now as they discontinued 400F, which had more neutral blacks. Apparently 400X has brown-blacks as the film is more tuned for portraiture work 7. Film speed no less than 400 ISO and that will also mean an aperture of f2 in order to get exposures around 10 seconds to 20 seconds. Anything slower and you lose definition and again, stars start to trail.

Erm, that's about it at the moment. I'm sure I'll have more info on this once I'm back from Norway mid March time.

Now off to Torridon to do a weekend workshop (for the weekend, strangely enough).