Chasing Aurora Borealis – My Top Ten for 2015

the Northern Lights (Aurora) and the Overland Jeep Wrangler

It would seem like I have picked up a new hobby.

It consists of watching both the solar activity forecasts as well as lower atmospheric forecasts to determine cloud cover. Long sleepless nights are also a part of it all.

The reward?

Something that is on the “bucket list” of many people, something that many people will never see, but for me, it’s currently a part of a somewhat regular occurrence – chasing (and photographing) The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

Granted that I ended up with a late start to aurora photography in 2015, and a bit of a learning curve to get settled into, here are my top 10 aurora photos for the 2015 year.

Really, it’s nothing too spectacular, but this shot wasn’t too far off from my first ever attempt at capturing images of the Northern Lights. It triggered my desire to pursue this hobby a bit further, to keep an eye on the “space weather” forecasts and was the start of many long, sleepless nights.

A beautiful fall evening and some amazing colors in the sky. I was quite happy with how this shot turned out. My only regret was that I missed a fair bit of this activity as I was driving on the highway and had no place to pull off for a safe viewing location.

2k jeep and lights DSC_4821
Currently, one of my favorite photos of all time and of my Jeep, this represents a bit of a learning curve with “composite” images. Because of the lights on the Jeep, I had to take three separate photos, and layer them together so you could see the Northern Lights, and the light cast by the Jeep itself.

I’m often out during quick night shoots with my secondary vehicle. Currently that is a Ford F250 that isn’t very photogenic. I decided to venture away from my normal photo area and see what else could find. This fence was the result.

Perhaps I’m cheating a bit on this one, but the plan was to get some aurora shots – unfortunately, the aurora just wasn’t all that exciting. You can see a bit of green in the lower right side of the shot, but what I managed to use was some cloud and light pollution to capture this abandoned Ukrainian church.

Another composite of three images with a touch of green glowing Northern Lights, and orange light pollution. I think it all worked out quite nicely. The green lighting of the windows was done by my cell phone placed inside with a “light painting” app that cast the green color.

The Milky Way, Aurora and a couple of faint meteors. I had in camera noise reduction turned off, so it is grainy, but it does represent a lot of what I’d never been able to photograph before.

You’ll have noticed a few of my “night sky” photos show me attempting to “hitch-hike” across the Galaxy, and here is yet another attempt – it’s too bad the moon was so bright on this night as it kept my thumb beacon (I was holding my headlamp) from projecting very far.

My number two photo just because of how brilliant this showing of the lights were. If you zoom in, you can see the green reflected off the snow under the Jeep. A good learning example as well – normally I found that I should run 6-10 seconds with exposures for Northern Lights. This shot was 8 seconds long, and way too long for how active the lights were. It’ll serve to experiment further as I could have captured some red colors if I ran a faster shutter speed.

There are a few technical errors with this photo, but it’s my current favorite as it features the Jeep, the Northern Lights (although lacking some colors), all while out exploring a quiet road in the winter. It too is a composite of three images – the aurora, the jeep with side lights on and the jeep with front lights on.

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