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10-10-2014, 02:42 AM   #1
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Northern Lights

I'm going to be trying my hand, if I am lucky, at photographing some Northern Lights. The LX is a no-brainer for this sort of thing, but what film stock to use? My standard colour film is Ektar 100 but I don't think that'll work so well for this. Any suggestions? Thanks, Kris.

10-10-2014, 03:23 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I used slide film. Ektachrome 100VS (does it still exist?). Pushed to 200ISO. Nice color and increased saturation and contrast when pushed.
Before that I used Ektachrome 200 (I believe the second image is shot on that film). But this film give a rather bland result.





Last edited by Pål Jensen; 10-10-2014 at 03:40 AM.
10-24-2014, 05:38 AM   #3
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This is shot with Ektachrome 100VS without pushing. Exposure time is several minutes. Rare red aurora. Often hard to see with the eyes as it is not very sensitive to red at low light levels. Exposure time for snow covered landscapes illuminated by moonlight is about 1-2min at 200ISO.
Never used print film but it is probably more forgiving in exposure.



---------- Post added 10-24-14 at 02:59 PM ----------

But you are probably better off with a K-5 or a K-3. Firstly you can focus on the "film"/sensor plane itself helping in focusing in darkness as many lenses focuses past infinity. Dynamic range is awsome too.
This is just a record shot with my brand new K-3 shot the other day. It is shot with DA* 16-50/2.8 at F:5.6 at 800ISO...30s


10-27-2014, 10:14 AM   #4
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Thanks for that Pal. I've just bought a new K-3 for the trip, but wanted to try out some film too.

Fingers crossed we have some good evenings.

Best wishes, Kris.

11-05-2014, 04:03 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by womble Quote
Thanks for that Pal. I've just bought a new K-3 for the trip, but wanted to try out some film too.

Fingers crossed we have some good evenings.

I recommend that you use live view with magnification and focus on a star or some lights at infinity. It also helps to stop the lens down a bit for better image quality and rather increase the ISO if necessary.
11-07-2014, 02:34 PM   #6
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I will be travelling to Scandinavia in 2016, so this thread on the Northern Lights is of interest to me. Photographers I have spoken to have said it is easier to photograph these shows on digital than it is for film; I regard this as speculative given the amount of work I have produced with star trails using Bulb and a fixed camera position and Provia 100F. The difficulty is with reciprocity and casting which would definitely interfere with the aurora's colouring. I will probably take Velvia 100 (even though I detest it!) and a small digi camera working the scene in parallel — I do work in and enjoy the best of both worlds.

---------- Post added 08-11-14 at 08:39 AM ----------

I will be travelling to Scandinavia in 2016, so this thread on the Northern Lights is of interest to me. Photographers I have spoken to have said it is easier to photograph these shows on digital than it is for film; I regard this as speculative given the amount of work I have produced with star trails using Bulb and a fixed camera position and Provia 100F. The difficulty is with reciprocity and casting which would definitely interfere with the aurora's colouring. I will probably take Velvia 100 (even though I detest it!) and a small digi camera working the scene in parallel — I do work in and enjoy the best of both worlds.
12-18-2014, 03:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Silent Street Quote
[/COLOR]I will be travelling to Scandinavia in 2016, so this thread on the Northern Lights is of interest to me. Photographers I have spoken to have said it is easier to photograph these shows on digital than it is for film; I regard this as speculative given the amount of work I have produced with star trails using Bulb and a fixed camera position and Provia 100F. The difficulty is with reciprocity and casting which would definitely interfere with the aurora's colouring. I will probably take Velvia 100 (even though I detest it!) and a small digi camera working the scene in parallel — I do work in and enjoy the best of both worlds.

I strongly recommend digital over film for this usage. As I've mentioned above it is easier to focus on the film(sensor) plane something you have to do to get maximum sharpness out of your lenses. When I used film I had to use my fast lenses at F:4 to be sure of really sharp images. Lenses and cameras also expand/contract with temperature so that infinty on the lens may vary with temperature. This matter at wide apertures.
Reciprocity isn't a problem really. However the Aurora intensity, and thereby exposure, may vary a lot from one second to the next. With digital you get a hang of the exposure immediately due to immediate feedback. Also, you can shoot at 800ISO and get better quality than 100ISO Provia.
In the film days hardly anyone (except me!) did aurora photography. Now its all the rage due to digital.
A K-3 or a K-5 would be ideal.
12-18-2014, 03:53 PM   #8
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The only night we got to see the lights I was on a moving boat with a bright moon. I decided to leave the camera in its bag and enjoy the show!

Maybe next time...

K.

12-19-2014, 06:19 AM   #9
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For photography, I prefer a bright moon. The first image above is shot during full (or close) moon. It makes the sky deep blue and lights up the landscape. The last image is shot with no moon; although it isn't totally dark - you can see some afterglow at the horizon...

Last edited by Pål Jensen; 01-03-2015 at 11:31 AM.
12-19-2014, 08:38 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing fantastic shots of the northern lights. It must spectacular to see that in person.
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