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Old January 10th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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anjin_nav anjin_nav is offline
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God's Fingerpainting

As many of you know, I really enjoy night photography (though to be sure staying up late is getting more and more challenging). As such, capturing the aurora borealis has been on my bucket list for a long time. After a winter of overcast skies in Anchorage and relatively low solar activity, it all came together this weekend.

To be sure, it started slow. Indeed, we almost didn't leave the house, thinking it wasn't going to happen. Then, when my daughter and I got to the locale we chose, I went to pull my camera from the car...I found in my excitement I'd left the camera at home while I bundled up for the cold. Regardless, we zipped back home, got the camera and drove to another location to watch the sky light up.

1) The aurora take up the entire sky, so composition is largely determined by where one stands or the time one snaps the shutter. So, I really like that I was in the right place at the right time to capture this light display from Wolverine to O'Malley peaks.


Aurora Mountain to Mountain.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, f/7.1, 10 sec, ISO 640, Nikkor 14-24 @ 14mm, tripod, remote shutter

2) Okay, fine. It's a selfie.


Aurora Wonder.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, same as above, camera set to 10 sec timer delay

3) This was my daughter's favorite (she likes the sparkles in the snow), and from her comes my thread's title.


Anchorage and Aurora.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, same as above

4) I rather prefer this one, though I like the subtle (and rarer) magenta in the next photo, too. I like how the aurora (a bit enhanced in LR) holds its own against a full moon and the city of Anhorage. Oddly, the hardest part about processing this image was removing the strong magenta cast from the sky (you can still see a little purple fringing in the moon).


City, Moon, and Aurora.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, f/8, 15 sec, ISO 800, Nikkor 14-24 @ 14mm, tripod, remote shutter

5) (I'm testing your patience now, I know) The aforementioned shot with magenta in the aurora.


O'Malley Aurora Hues.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, f/8, 10 sec, ISO 800, Nikkor 14-24 @ 14mm, tripod, remote shutter

6) That's mount Susitna in the far background, from which the aurora almost seems to emanate, like a volcanic plume.


City Lights under God's Finger Painting.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, same as above

7) This one is my favorite.


Krista Selfie 1.jpg by anjin_nav, on Flickr
Manual Exposure, f/8, 10 sec, ISO 800, Nikkor 14-24 @ 15mm, tripod, remote shutter, green filtered flash light for light painting

So one might think that since I got a bunch of photos I'd check this off my bucket list, right? Well, actually, this event just managed to pique my interest and renew my interest in getting out there to shoot at all cost--even in -7F (-22C) temperatures!

Well, if you've made it this far, thanks! As always, I welcome any and all feedback--that's the best way I can improve next time....
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Old January 10th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

I never tire of seeing the Northern Lights. We are lucky where we live that they appear in our northern skies periodically. Notice that the lights were predominately green in your shots with just a hint of red. Were any more colourful or crackling? Love your captures.
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Old January 11th, 2015, 02:26 AM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

In all of my life I've only seen them twice and even then they were only wisps. I envy you and others who get to experience it in person. In the interim I can solace that others are getting obviously exciting shots.....all are good. You deserve the hard earned selfie.....much as I dislike the genre normally!
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Old January 11th, 2015, 06:56 AM
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

I love the series. That 4th shot is outstanding. Great job.
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Old January 11th, 2015, 07:09 AM
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jaharris1001 jaharris1001 is offline
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

I have never seen these in real life either and always been amazed,, curious, when viewing this event does the aurora constantly change and move ? or does it sit still for a period allowing you to focus an a particular shape ?
glad to see you getting inspired again Tim !! we've missed you around here !! You have such beauty around you there in Alaska and hope that you continue to share that with us !!
wonderful job on this set and its difficult to pick a fav, I really like #1 and how the aurora jumps from one peak to the other and then I like the one with the moon too,, hard to choose, I like em all
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Old January 11th, 2015, 08:44 AM
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

That's some fine work there! Always wanted to experience the lights but haven't yet. That 1st one is my fave of the bunch, sweet work!
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Old January 11th, 2015, 06:15 PM
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anjin_nav anjin_nav is offline
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

Thanks for viewing and commenting, Garry, Russ, Marty, Jim, and Doug. We really had a great time, and it's hard describing the feeling of euphoria when you see the lights really strong for the first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barklake View Post
I never tire of seeing the Northern Lights. We are lucky where we live that they appear in our northern skies periodically. Notice that the lights were predominately green in your shots with just a hint of red. Were any more colourful or crackling? Love your captures.
No, Garry, almost entirely green. As you can see, we did get a hint of magenta here and there, but no blues, reds, or purples. They did up in Fairbanks, though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ View Post
In all of my life I've only seen them twice and even then they were only wisps. I envy you and others who get to experience it in person. In the interim I can solace that others are getting obviously exciting shots.....all are good. You deserve the hard earned selfie.....much as I dislike the genre normally!
Thanks, Russ!

Quote:
Originally Posted by digital2006 View Post
I love the series. That 4th shot is outstanding. Great job.
Thanks, Marty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaharris1001 View Post
I have never seen these in real life either and always been amazed,, curious, when viewing this event does the aurora constantly change and move ? or does it sit still for a period allowing you to focus an a particular shape ?
The lights move constantly, Jim, so the challenge is how to capture them. Really strong bands only need a second or two, or maybe a really high ISO. I chose to lower ISO for noise control and increase aperture for DOF. That sacrificed some clarity in the aurora itself, though. As for focus, most aurora photographers focus on a star (infinity) and lock it. I decided to try to focus on the mountains, with mixed results. I guess I need more practice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cup4tml View Post
That's some fine work there! Always wanted to experience the lights but haven't yet. That 1st one is my fave of the bunch, sweet work!
Thanks, Doug!
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Old January 12th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

Your end results were "Definitely" worth all the trials and tribulations. The selfie gave me good morning chuckle and the "City and Moon" is my favorite from the set.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

All wonderful shots. The lights are on my bucket list too. Unfortunately, when I was living in Buffalo, every time they announced that we should be able to see them, We ended up with clouds over Lake Erie (at least on our side) and I've yet to successfully see them. According to my dad it happened once or twice while I was enlisted...and summarily away from Buffalo.

You have my envy, and you as well, Barklake for being on the other side of the pond and actually able to see them periodically.
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Old January 15th, 2015, 03:26 AM
moltogordo moltogordo is offline
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Re: God's Fingerpainting

Prince George BC is about as far south as the Auroras get regularly - but we get nothing like this.

Gorgeous display, and some real virtuoso photography here! Bravo!
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