Nightscapes

A faint aurora was caught in one of my first images, before the remnant of the solar storm went away.

Night sky near Penn Yan

Monday saw a geomagnetic storm glance off of the upper atmosphere, snarling up cell phone reception in the area. It was also the best opportunity for auroras that we have seen this year. We are nearing the end of the spring aurora season (auroras tend to peak around the equinoxes, for reasons not fully understood), so I hoped the storm would last until nightfall. Once darkness fell, I set my camera up and took a couple test shots- if there were faint auroras, the camera would pick them up even if my eyes couldn’t. As it turned out, there were very faint bands in my first test images, but that was it for the night. However, it was a gorgeous clear night, very comfortable out, so I tried some ‘nightscape’ photography while I waited.

Barn at night in the finger Lakes

I used a wide angle lens and took 30 second shots of a neighboring barn and our house. While the shutter was open I “painted” the buildings and trees with light from a bright flashlight (not something I do when we have guests- I don’t want to have to explain why someone with a camera is flashing a searchlight on the house!). The idea is to lend some foreground to a starry background. It is a bit of a challenge to get the knack of adding enough light without over-doing it.

Finger Lakes night skyLos Gatos B&B at night

Just as the urge to blink is strongest in the instant the shutter is open, the need to drive or fly by the area is irresistible during long exposures. Which explains the dotted lines in the sky, or the white and red streaks behind the barn.
Posted on 6 April 2010, 22:51 by Burney Baron