Tell Us About Your Photo, Lars W


By K David in Columns on May 14, 2015
Tell Us About Your Photo, Lars W

Each month we pick a forum photographer with a stand-apart image in a non-contest thread. This article will allow the photographer to tell us a bit about their photo and themselves, providing a larger context to the image.

LarsW posted a richly colored, almost-magical photograph in the Post your Photos forum. Thank you, Lars, for taking part in this ongoing series and for this fantastic example of Pentaxian astrophotography.

Aurora | Lars W (click to enlarge)

Where did you take the photo?

In Härnösand, Sweden, up on the moderately high mountain Vårdkasen (only 175 meters above sea level.

What inspired you to take this photo?

Since September last year, this has been a very good season for auroras. I chased auroras all winter. On March the 17th, by noon, I saw reports of an exceptional geomagnetic storm (G4-G5).

Editor's note: Geomagnetic storms are graded on a scale of 1 to 5: G1 to G5. G1 is a minor event where as G4 and G5 are rated severe and extreme, respectively.

Did you plan your shoot ahead of time?

Just before sunset, the reports were still predicting a strong storm. At home, heavy fog, "arrggh!" Desperate to find a place with clear sky, and planning it with a few friends. Out in the car, we found that this mountain top was above the fog. "Yes!!"

At the site, how did you set up for this shot?

We were back again 1.5 hours later. On this outlook tower that seemed like a perfect spot before sunset, there was way too much light pollution from an illuminated alpine skiing hill. We found a better place 500 meters away. We rushed to set up our cameras on their tripods; you never know how long the auroras last. This image was shot in a southeast direction. Normally the aurora is seen in a northward direction. This day it was all over the sky.

Were there any challenges or unexpected events?

The challenge was to get away from the fog and light pollution, and that the aurora is unpredictable moving around the sky in different directions, so you need some timing and luck. To find a good foreground is important, and it could have been a little better in this case.

What camera and lens did you use?

Pentax K-5 and Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 at 17mm. 10 second exposure wide open at ISO 1100.

Did you use any accessories?

Triopo MX-1327 with Triopo B-3 ballhead

Do you shoot raw or jpeg?

Raw (PEF)

What post-processing did you use?

Adobe Camera Raw. + on the exposure, contrast, highlights, whites and clarity. No local adjustments. The difficulty in PP is white balance and not overdoing it; adding whites and clarity can make your night shot stand out, but at a point it just looks fake.

How long have you been taking photographs?

Since I was 10 years old, only occasionally first 20 years. More serious about it since about eight years ago. I've been a Pentaxian for three years.

Where can people find you on the web?

You can see more of my photos on my Flickr page and of course I'm here on the forum under the username of LarsW.

Can we see an unedited version as well?

Aurora, Unedited Original | LarsW

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