Aurora Borealis

A few weeks ago the aurora borealis was visible up in the northern hemisphere a lot lower than normal, so it was actually visible around the Fraser Valley. Of course I had no idea, even when I was browsing around Facebook and Twitter and kept on seeing people posting photos, but for some reason I thought it was from somewhere else, not western North America.

I happened to be up late, and around 11 I got a message telling me to go outside and look up. I did, but when I did I saw nothing. It only really looked like there was some thin clouds in the dark so I said meh – no idea what the point was. Then I realized that this was all going on so I went outside and took a photo with my phone.

I got this shitty photo (which I admit is shitty). The sky did not look like this to the naked eye, but because of the iPhone’s night mode it holds the shutter open longer than usual and that pulled in all the color of the northern lights.

After this point, of course I went to get the real camera. I couldn’t find my tripod so I had to do handheld as well as trying to balance the camera on its back on a stone in the driveway. That didn’t work well, but I managed to get a couple of shots that weren’t horrible. Definitely not worthy of any praise, because the first rule of good landscape photography is start by being in a great location. The end of my road is not a good location. I also didn’t have any leading lines, foreground elements, layering… any of that. I guess the only thing I really got was not horribly mushy and over sharpened and over smoothed images that you get out of the phone.

There was some post processing, but it was mostly just cranking the exposure up (2.5 stops) to bring the image from black to not black. Settings were 1.3 seconds, f 2.8 at ISO 500, and I believe they were both handheld (a testimony to my Fuji’s In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)). Since I was able to get it handheld I also was able to shoot it darker knowing that I could pull the exposure up in post.

The next night I was going to be prepared but of course the aurora never showed up. Oh well, maybe next year or the next time I find myself above the northern circle.