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03-28-2013, 10:10 PM   #1
Paul Brown
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shooting the northern lights

I have a Pentax K1000 and was wondering how long to leave the shutter open, I have a tripod and a shutter release cable. The same goes for stars as well.

03-29-2013, 03:14 AM   #2
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I shoot a lot of Northern Lights and I would use a minimum of 15 seconds depending on what lens you are using. If you have a fast lens like a 1.4 or 2.8 that time would work. I use a 10-20 f4 and normally shoot between 20-30 seconds.
03-29-2013, 06:18 AM   #3
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Shooting northen lights is a lot of trial and error, as it is always different. Try anything between 15 sec and 60 sec. I would not go any higher than ISO800. Use manual focussing at infinity, because your autofocus will not work. Best thing is to find out exactly where manual infinity is when it is light.


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03-29-2013, 09:41 AM   #4
Paul Brown
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The lenses i have are a 28-70mm quantaray, the standard 50mm and a 70-210mm pentax smc

03-30-2013, 07:35 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul Brown Quote
The lenses i have are a 28-70mm quantaray, the standard 50mm and a 70-210mm pentax smc
You'll want a wide as lens as possible so I would stick with the 28-70mm. You can always crop a photo smaller but you certainly can't add to it. As mentioned in another post find your infinity focus point before you try shooting them. I set mine in full sunlight and a good tip would be to put a little piece of tape on the focus ring to hold it in place. ISO is key as well. I generally shoot around 400-600. Don't forget to take time to enjoy them as well. Don't get stuck behind the camera worrying about camera settings or if you got the shot. Northern Lights can come and go in minutes and if you miss them you will kick yourself afterwards.
03-31-2013, 07:34 AM   #6
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Thankyou Pauld I just singed up last night, ill introduce my self soon on the introduction page.
03-31-2013, 12:57 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pauld Quote
You'll want a wide as lens as possible so I would stick with the 28-70mm. You can always crop a photo smaller but you certainly can't add to it. As mentioned in another post find your infinity focus point before you try shooting them. I set mine in full sunlight and a good tip would be to put a little piece of tape on the focus ring to hold it in place. ISO is key as well. I generally shoot around 400-600. Don't forget to take time to enjoy them as well. Don't get stuck behind the camera worrying about camera settings or if you got the shot. Northern Lights can come and go in minutes and if you miss them you will kick yourself afterwards.
That's great advice, Pauld and Johnthe Third. Nothing like getting the perfect shot and finding it out of focus. Do the northern lights change fast enough that the shots we often see are time-averaged? Like long exposures of moving water?
03-31-2013, 01:21 PM - 1 Like   #8
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When they are very active they are constantly changing. I often think about taking out 2 cameras and staggering my shots. I can't tell you the amount of times I have talked to my camera asking it to hurry up because I'm missing shots. On good nights I shoot shot after shot with no time in between. You'll find the time the camera takes to take and write the shot to memory to be the longest 30-60 seconds of your life.

04-01-2013, 02:22 PM   #9
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It's really all about trial and error because each time you try the conditions will be slightly different, but you have been some good starting out suggestions here.

Remember a good tripod and some form of shutter release too.
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