Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  

FM Forums | Canon Forum | Join Upload & Sell

  

Archive 2012 · Alaska Aurora trip
  
 
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #1 · Alaska Aurora trip


Wife and I are making our first trip to hopefully catch the lights in 4 weeks, looking for any advice. Doing lots of reading, plenty of good sources online but any special tips from anyone with experience is appreciated.
-Planning on taking old 5D, rebel T2i, nikon V1. Figure needing to shoot at iso 800 with f/2.8 or faster. Other than 50/1.8, I do not right now have any fast wide lenses. Without breaking the bank, looking at tokina 11-16/2.8 and samyang 35/1.4, may even pick up the 10/2.8 for the nikon. Have never owned any sigma lenses, any strong feelings about any of their semi-wide 1.8's instead of the samyang? Likely not going as expensive as the canon 24/1.4.
-Read somewhere to use wired cable release but not infrared in the cold but cannot find a reason. Any ideas?
-Anyone with equipment failures from cold with these cameras?
-Any SD/CF card issues at cold temps?

thank in advance,
Michael



Jan 27, 2012 at 02:33 AM
surf monkey
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · Alaska Aurora trip


Never seen them.
But here are a couple links.
Definitely on my must do list.

http://www.alaskaphotographyblog.com/how-to-photograph-the-northern-lights-with-a-digital-camera/
http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/how-to/shooting/chasing-the-aurora-borealis.html



Jan 27, 2012 at 03:02 AM
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · Alaska Aurora trip


thanks, had not seen the second article. The Aurora have been on our list for years as well. With all the recent reports about increased activity we decided to quit talking about it and go.


Jan 27, 2012 at 03:13 AM
arbitrage
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #4 · Alaska Aurora trip


Hi, for a little motivation I took these from my apartment's balcony this past September in Whitehorse Yukon Canada. Used IR remote. Used the 10-22EFS and the 24-105L on the 7D on a 25$ tripod. If the aurora are active, you can shoot with any camera and lens that will allow a 2-20sec exposure (depending on how bright they are) and come back happy, if they aren't well....All I can say is be prepared to return disappointed after any northern lights trip. You could easily arrive to cloudy skies for the entire trip and may have clear nights and not much activity. 2 days ago we had the strongest magnetic storm for the past decade and Whitehorse was socked in with clouds so I didn't get a peep of it.

Where are you going in Alaska? As far as equipment failure, for these posted shots I had no problems as it was probably above 0C those nights. Last weekend I went for a 1.5 hr photo walk around the local river at -25C and had no issues with the 7D. All you need is a tripod, remote, wide lens and fire away hopefully with some interesting foreground or landscapes in the shot.




  Canon EOS 7D    24mm    f/4.0    10s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    11mm    f/3.5    6s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    11mm    f/3.5    5s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    10mm    f/3.5    8s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jan 27, 2012 at 03:20 AM
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #5 · Alaska Aurora trip


Thanks for the reply, we are leaving around Feb 22. As best I can tell, late Feb-March has somewhat better chance of being clear than in the fall. Also, this should put us well away from large moon. Still, as you say, may spend the week and see nothing but clouds- not much I can do about that. BTW, thanks for the pictures, particularly like #3. I notice you are getting by well with smaller apertures and shorter shutter speeds than I expected to need, encouraging.

michael



Jan 27, 2012 at 03:49 AM
arbitrage
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #6 · Alaska Aurora trip


Keep in mind that this was a very bright storm also (3rd strongest of the current season). There was an almost full moon behind the clouds (as seen in picture #3) plus the light pollution from being in downtown and I'm facing south!!!. I have some other pics from a rural area when the lights were only visible as bands on the northern horizon and then needed 20sec exposure at 800iso and again at 3.5 with the 10-22. Feb. is usually a great month as is September and the sun is getting more and more active as we approach solar max in 2013. I've lived in Whitehorse since Sept 2008 and this was the first time I'd seen the lights from my apartment (lucky 3am bathroom break!!).

If you are heading somewhere like Fairbanks in February then you will have a very high chance of success. The Yukon Quest dogsled race runs in Feb between Whitehorse and Fairbanks and I know some people who have competed in the race and they have always seen the lights during the 1week race. I wish you luck and be sure to post the results.

Also, the best website for monitoring space activity including the northern lights that I have found is spaceweather.com . Another good sight is aurormax (http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/auroramax/connect.asp) where they have a live cam running in Yellowknife NWT Canada. Check out the archives for videos from all nights and you wil see that the lights are out a lot when you're in the right location. Yellowknife is more consistant than Whitehorse for seeing the lights.



Jan 27, 2012 at 04:06 AM
matanuska
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #7 · Alaska Aurora trip


mstout wrote:
Wife and I are making our first trip to hopefully catch the lights in 4 weeks, looking for any advice. Doing lots of reading, plenty of good sources online but any special tips from anyone with experience is appreciated.
-Planning on taking old 5D, rebel T2i, nikon V1. Figure needing to shoot at iso 800 with f/2.8 or faster. Other than 50/1.8, I do not right now have any fast wide lenses. Without breaking the bank, looking at tokina 11-16/2.8 and samyang 35/1.4, may even pick up the 10/2.8 for the nikon. Have never owned any sigma lenses, any strong
...Show more

I would suggest not overloading yourself with too much gear. Fumbling around in the dark changing lenses and such is quite tedious, and half of the fun is just relaxing and watching the show yourself withou the camera. Rent a Nikon 14-24 or a Canon 16-35 MkII - either one covers essentially everything you would need to shoot successfully. Maybe rent a Zeiss 21 f/2 for a prime. 24mm is about the max I ever shoot Aurora at anyway - anything longer just doesn't look as interesting IMO.

Experiment with exposure times. The Aurora have intricate detail which shows in fast (5-10 sec) exposures, but also look quite pleasing at longer exposures (30-45 sec).

Camera gear holds up fine in the cold. I've had my stuff out at -50F with no problems, though battery life gets short. Take extyra batteries and keep them in an inside coat pocket when not in use. Cables get stiff at those temps, but the most limiting factor will be your endurance. We've been having a really cold winter so far, so be sure to bring plenty of Arctic Gear!

Good Luck!



Jan 27, 2012 at 06:53 PM
MDTeague
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · Alaska Aurora trip


Michael that old 5D coupled with a wide-angle rental would enable you to capture some amazing shots. When visiting a once-in-a-lifetime icon such as the Aurora I would regret not having one of the best wide-angles. I've rented the Zeiss 21 which proved sturdy and superb at <$100 (LensRentals).
Have a great trip!

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/8217618174/auroral-photography-a-guide-to-capturing-the-northern-



Jan 27, 2012 at 09:10 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



matanuska
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #9 · Alaska Aurora trip


MDTeague wrote:
Michael that old 5D coupled with a wide-angle rental would enable you to capture some amazing shots. When visiting a once-in-a-lifetime icon such as the Aurora I would regret not having one of the best wide-angles. I've rented the Zeiss 21 which proved sturdy and superb at <$100 (LensRentals).


And of course the hard infinity stop on the Zeiss (and on Samyang variants as well) is a lifesaver in the dark. Wich reminds me of a few other tips while we are on the subject:

1) As mentioned above, you absolutely must, must, must, must manually confirm infinity focus after first setting up and each time after changing lenses - use live view with high magnification on a bright star. There is nothing more frustrating than downloading a couple of full CF cards only to discover the focus was off the whole time because of a certain lens! Trust me, you don't want to learn this the hard way (though if you are like me it seems that personal experience is the only way I can get this one to sink in ).

2) For Aurora shooting, I prefer a gimbal head over a ball. It can be a pain fussing with a ball wearing gloves, and trying to keep the horizon level in the dark gets tiring as well. Once set up and level, a good gimbal is easy to swing anywhere as the action shifts across the sky, and once familiar with it I find I don't necessarily even have to look through the viewfinder everytime as well. My gimbal head also has a handle like a video camera so moving from place to place across the sky in the dark is a snap.

3) Consider using a right angle attachment like the Canon Angle Finder-C. It is much easier (and more comfortable) to set the camera low and look down into the eyepiece, than to try an set it up high enough and constanly crane your neck to look up into the viewfinder. Even with live view, it becomes tiresome over the course of a night to get directly under the camera to see the screen when the lens is pointed near vertical.


Where in Alaska will you be going? I assume the Fairbanks area? How long will you be up here?



Jan 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #10 · Alaska Aurora trip


Everyone, thanks for the responses. It had not even occurred to me to rent a lens, the zeiss is a great idea. As far as infinity focus, planning on marking barrel or taping when still light enough to focus. And yes, I have also returned from vacation with unexpected blurry pictures that was only evident after seeing on large screen. Also have lost night shots from underexposing based on how the picture looked on camera screen, have to watch histograms.
-As far as changing heads, I think I may already be stretching my wife's tolerance with recent gear purchases.
-Right angle finder is also great idea, my 2 CF tripods are little shorter than I would like, angle finder will be big help.
-Flying into Fairbanks on the 23rd, staying 7 nights, most are outside of town, Riverbend cabins. Am little nervous about driving too far out of town at night, not too much driving on ice for last few years. Hoping rental comes with chains.
-In terms of cold weather gear, we usually work in layers. Read somewhere that in truly cold weather that loft is more important than layers. True?

thanks again



Jan 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM
matanuska
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #11 · Alaska Aurora trip


mstout wrote:
-Flying into Fairbanks on the 23rd, staying 7 nights, most are outside of town, Riverbend cabins. Am little nervous about driving too far out of town at night, not too much driving on ice for last few years. Hoping rental comes with chains.
-In terms of cold weather gear, we usually work in layers. Read somewhere that in truly cold weather that loft is more important than layers. True?

thanks again


Yes, I know where Riverbend is. Don't worry about the drive, it's paved highway/road all the way. No, the rental won't come with chains. It may not even come with studded tires unless you specifically ask. In fact, I would suggest getting a small 4wd SUV to give you more travel options. Riverbend is still in the "city", and there are some better Aurora viewing spots near Fairbanks, but a 4wd helps.

I feel that the whole "layers" thing is overrated. Personally, at those temps I just wear my good arctic boots, a good set of insulated down overalls, and a heavy down parka.

There are some good places to eat in North Pole (and in Fbks too) if you are interested.



Jan 28, 2012 at 02:34 AM
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · Alaska Aurora trip


Thanks again, was looking at the map, any thoughts about going up Steese hwy or state hwy 2? Skiland sounds like it may be heavily trafficked with large numbers of tourists. Favored spots? Would love to have some water for a foreground.
Thanks for rental info, did not know studded tires were even an option.



Jan 28, 2012 at 03:09 AM
mstout
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #13 · Alaska Aurora trip


Been shopping rentals, very surprised by how little a zeiss costs to rent. Now have to decide between 21/2.8 and 25/2. Any opinion about which is better wide open?


Jan 28, 2012 at 03:40 AM
matanuska
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #14 · Alaska Aurora trip


mstout wrote:
Been shopping rentals, very surprised by how little a zeiss costs to rent. Now have to decide between 21/2.8 and 25/2. Any opinion about which is better wide open?


The rental places actually have the 25 ZE now?

The 21 ZE is tacksharp edge to edge wide open. There is no reason to believe the 25 ZE won't be any different. But other than a few bloggers, no one has actually laid hands on one yet (that I know of). Like I said, even though the 25 ZE will be my next purchase, IMO 24mm and above is too long for the Northern Lights but YMMV.

My 21 ZE and 16-35 MkII are my primary lenses for Aurora.



Jan 28, 2012 at 07:51 AM
matanuska
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #15 · Alaska Aurora trip


mstout wrote:
Thanks again, was looking at the map, any thoughts about going up Steese hwy or state hwy 2? Skiland sounds like it may be heavily trafficked with large numbers of tourists. Favored spots? Would love to have some water for a foreground.


Open water? Good luck with that! Won't be any around Fairbanks until late April/Early May.

Murphy Dome is a favorite/popular spot. Up in the hills north of the city with an unobstructed, dark Northern horizon so even if activity is low the entire time you're here you'll probably at least see something. But the road up there in winter - even though well maintained - is best with 4wd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtlrX7AYG9Y

Yes, up the Steese past Fox away from the city is good, as is the other way up the Elliot Hwy as well (Alaskans don't refer to highways by number, just the name). If you are really adventurous you could even go all the way up the Elliot to the Dalton Hwy, though most car rental places don't allow travel on the Dalton itself. Also, out on the road out to Chena Hot Springs is good too.



Jan 28, 2012 at 08:44 AM





FM Forums | Canon Forum | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password