Aurora borealis in Fairbanks

Kim_Captures

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Sep 11, 2020
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Kim M
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Since we're not busy with work travel, my husband and I ticked off a bucket list item this past weekend: Seeing the aurora borealis in Fairbanks! February and March give the best chance for viewing, so we chose a weekend just after a new moon for nice, dark skies and hoped for clear weather and high solar activity. We were not disappointed!

I found a terrific local guide who is also a Sony shooter. For his other tours, he offers Sony, Nikon and Canon equipment for rent, for folks who don't have gear or don't want to haul it. It was nice to have someone there to bounce ideas off of and check settings. But I had brought my A9 and tripod, the Sony 24mm GM and Sigma Art 14-24mm. My settings were mostly wide open, ISO 1000 and shutter speeds between 3 and 15 seconds depending on light and activity. I didn't do a lot of correction in LR, either. The videos I shot at ISO 6400 but no other changes.

He picked us up at our hotel at 9pm and drove us out to remote locations, far from city light pollution and other people, where we waited. The first night, it was perfectly clear (and COLD), and after an hour or so of light activity, we got lucky and the aurora started to dance! It's interesting that to the naked eye, it looks like fog or a dense cloud. If it gets strong enough, you see green and maybe a little purple, but through the camera lens with the proper settings it really comes to life. That first night, we had great activity and shot photos and video until almost 3am! Our second night wasn't nearly as active, but we went a little further out and got to see some beautiful starry skies.

Yes, it was well below freezing, but we were prepared with the proper gear and were able to pop into the warm van for a break now and then. I had posted a while back looking for any special weather suggestions but my gear held up fine. I did use Sony TOUGH cards but otherwise nothing extreme. I brought a big ziplock back to put my rig in before bringing it inside at the end of each night to avoid condensation, which I do anytime I'm shooting for a long time in the cold. The second night when it was -25 or so, I did start to get some stickiness on some of the dials, but my batteries held up incredibly well. I was able to shoot about 300 frames and 12 videos the first night (temps around -10) on just one battery!

I've included a few photos here, but there are lots more (and a few videos) at https://adobe.ly/2LS0Fp9 if you're interested. I sped up my videos about 250%, so the shorter one represents about 3 minutes of activity and the longer one is 9 minutes of action.

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Jeff A

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Excellent results, Kim. Don't you love it when a good plan comes together? Congratulations.
 
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johonew

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Wow! Nice shots...and video. I am glad your trip went well. Now, to plan my trip to see the aurora borealis in Fairbanks!
 
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Kim_Captures

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Sep 11, 2020
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Kim M
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Salt Lake City, UT
Wow! Nice shots...and video. I am glad your trip went well. Now, to plan my trip to see the aurora borealis in Fairbanks!

Thank you! If you want any tips or the contact info for my guide, I'm happy to share.
 

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