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01-19-2013, 03:21 PM   #16
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The DA 12-24 AND the DA 10-17 should also be in your bag for that trip. Not my money, just my opinion.
Hoping for cold temperatures and clear skies on your trip.

01-19-2013, 03:53 PM   #17
jac
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The nice thing up though is that despite it being a bit nippy at times (-38C w/wind chill right now), they're visible almost any clear night. Hope for solar events too!
01-19-2013, 09:16 PM   #18
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I shoot a lot of Northern Lights and have a few tips for you.
Dress warm. You will probably spend a bit of time outside after midnight and I'm sure it will be rather cold.
As far as gear goes the most important thing is to have a good steady tripod as your exposures will probably be 15 seconds or more. The wider the lens the better. I use a Sigma 10-20mm 95% of the time but I do use my 30mm from time to time and have also had success with a 16-45mm lens as well. Get a memory time with a fast write time since your exposures will be long you will want them to write as fast as possible so you can take the next shot.

Most importantly, don't forget to step away from the camera and watch this amazing phenomenon. I have seen them dozens of times and I still get amazed but how extraordinary the Northern Lights can be.

01-19-2013, 09:51 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pauld Quote
I shoot a lot of Northern Lights and have a few tips for you.
Dress warm. You will probably spend a bit of time outside after midnight and I'm sure it will be rather cold.
As far as gear goes the most important thing is to have a good steady tripod as your exposures will probably be 15 seconds or more. The wider the lens the better. I use a Sigma 10-20mm 95% of the time but I do use my 30mm from time to time and have also had success with a 16-45mm lens as well. Get a memory time with a fast write time since your exposures will be long you will want them to write as fast as possible so you can take the next shot.

Most importantly, don't forget to step away from the camera and watch this amazing phenomenon. I have seen them dozens of times and I still get amazed but how extraordinary the Northern Lights can be.
Very nice shot.

I agree with your comment about experiencing the lights for themselves. I lived north of 60 for 30 years. There is nothing like being out in the wilderness, in total silence, with the Aurora going full blast. At one place where I lived in the Yukon, I cut a ski trail with branches cleared for night safety to a nearby lake. I would just put on skis at the door and head over to the lake for lights gazing, even in extreme cold. The colder the better for seeing the lights.

Technically speaking, I haven't used the 14 or the 15 myself. The OP could do some advance preparation by testing both lenses at night. Distant street lights with some horizon in the frame should work. Shoot wide open and closed down one and two stops, and experiment with higher ISOs. Look for corner sharpness, flare, contrast, and coma. Of course, you can evaluate zooms in the same way.

I'm not familiar with the mechanics of these lenses. Some AF lenses allow the focus ring to be turned past the infinity mark when in MF mode. If that is the case with the 14 and 15, a bit of testing to determine the actual location of infinity focus might be a good precaution, as AF may not be terribly useful and using MF in the dark can be hairy. Knowing where to manually preset focus can be useful. A small flashlight is mighty handy.

I have seen the focus of some lenses- particularly long ones- affected by extreme cold. (we're talking colder than -40.) This is due to differing coefficients of expansion in the materials in the lens. I've no idea whether this might happen with the lenses the OP is taking, although I haven't myself observed problems with short lenses.

If it's seriously cold, you need to be careful about breathing because moisture in your breath will freeze on the front element of your lens and cause very sneaky fogging. Check the lens periodically with a flashlight. If it's really, really seriously cold you can even fog your lens with moisture from an open parka neck or an uncovered hand. Guess how I know.

Gentle rubbing with a dry microfiber cloth generally deals with this sort of fogging.

I usually try to keep exposure times for aurora to 15 seconds or less, as there can quite a bit of blurring of the aurora, and annoying short star tracks, if you go much longer.

And take a good big thermos of something hot to drink.


Last edited by John Poirier; 01-19-2013 at 10:04 PM.
01-20-2013, 03:54 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pauld Quote
I shoot a lot of Northern Lights and have a few tips for you.
Dress warm. You will probably spend a bit of time outside after midnight and I'm sure it will be rather cold.
As far as gear goes the most important thing is to have a good steady tripod as your exposures will probably be 15 seconds or more. The wider the lens the better. I use a Sigma 10-20mm 95% of the time but I do use my 30mm from time to time and have also had success with a 16-45mm lens as well. Get a memory time with a fast write time since your exposures will be long you will want them to write as fast as possible so you can take the next shot.

Most importantly, don't forget to step away from the camera and watch this amazing phenomenon. I have seen them dozens of times and I still get amazed but how extraordinary the Northern Lights can be.
Thanks for the tips, Paul
Yes, the rest of my equipment is/should be good to go. I have a Manfrotto 55XproB (not sure it will fit in my suitcase, lol) with a 468MG RC2 ballhead. Hmm, it`s a hydrostatic ballhead...oil will be very thick in that kind of cold, could that be a problem? I also have a mechanical 486RC2. The memory is a 16Gb Sandisk UHS-1 card and I have a cablerelease.
My clothing should also be good:
Boots: Norsehund Alpha 8" Waterproof - Men's - Winter Boots - J39479 | Merrell
Jacket: The North Face Men's Atlas Triclimate Jacket ? 3 in-1 Jacket
Gloves: The North Face Meru Glove ? Summit Series (older vesion), I also have some thin but insulated liners (so I can operate the camera without exposing bare skin to the cold)
2 sets of baselayer: https://www.devold.com/outdoor/default.aspx?menu=61&category=5&id=2522 and https://www.devold.com/outdoor/default.aspx?menu=61&category=2&id=2526
And offcourse some heavy merinowool socks, bacalava, a heavy insulated wool hat and some fleeces as midlayer. For trousers I have a heavy duty snowboarding pants, tried and tested without thermo underwear upto 3400mtrs and -20C.

This should be sufficient, right? Or did I forget something?

Beautiful shot! Hopefully I get to see and capture one as well


QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Very nice shot.

I agree with your comment about experiencing the lights for themselves. I lived north of 60 for 30 years. There is nothing like being out in the wilderness, in total silence, with the Aurora going full blast. At one place where I lived in the Yukon, I cut a ski trail with branches cleared for night safety to a nearby lake. I would just put on skis at the door and head over to the lake for lights gazing, even in extreme cold. The colder the better for seeing the lights.

Technically speaking, I haven't used the 14 or the 15 myself. The OP could do some advance preparation by testing both lenses at night. Distant street lights with some horizon in the frame should work. Shoot wide open and closed down one and two stops, and experiment with higher ISOs. Look for corner sharpness, flare, contrast, and coma. Of course, you can evaluate zooms in the same way.

I'm not familiar with the mechanics of these lenses. Some AF lenses allow the focus ring to be turned past the infinity mark when in MF mode. If that is the case with the 14 and 15, a bit of testing to determine the actual location of infinity focus might be a good precaution, as AF may not be terribly useful and using MF in the dark can be hairy. Knowing where to manually preset focus can be useful. A small flashlight is mighty handy.

I have seen the focus of some lenses- particularly long ones- affected by extreme cold. (we're talking colder than -40.) This is due to differing coefficients of expansion in the materials in the lens. I've no idea whether this might happen with the lenses the OP is taking, although I haven't myself observed problems with short lenses.

If it's seriously cold, you need to be careful about breathing because moisture in your breath will freeze on the front element of your lens and cause very sneaky fogging. Check the lens periodically with a flashlight. If it's really, really seriously cold you can even fog your lens with moisture from an open parka neck or an uncovered hand. Guess how I know.

Gentle rubbing with a dry microfiber cloth generally deals with this sort of fogging.

I usually try to keep exposure times for aurora to 15 seconds or less, as there can quite a bit of blurring of the aurora, and annoying short star tracks, if you go much longer.

And take a good big thermos of something hot to drink.
And thank you too for the tips and comments on the fog.
I have some expirience in shooting LE`s, both DA* 16-50 and DA14 are used regularly for this kind of photograpy. The 15 will (offcourse) get it`s turn
And you`re both right, expiriencing such beauty is more importent that the pictures afterwards.

Regarding the mechanical side of things:
Not a clue what those lenses will do. Metal will shrink in cold, so extra clearences are expected if all is the same temperature. But if the inside stays warmer things could get stuck. If temperatures drop to that level, it`s probably best to have everything at the same temperature, 1 or 2 hours outside in a bag before shooting should do it, right?

I also figured that I do my base-setting indoors to minimize adjustments onsite.
01-21-2013, 11:16 AM   #21
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Uhh, you said you would need to bump up the iso. Tip #1 : Bring a tripod :/
01-21-2013, 12:09 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by gooseta Quote
Uhh, you said you would need to bump up the iso. Tip #1 : Bring a tripod :/
Great tip!

QuoteOriginally posted by TenZ.NL Quote
I have a Manfrotto 55XproB (not sure it will fit in my suitcase, lol) with a 468MG RC2 ballhead.
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