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.

#10.
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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.

#9.
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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.

#8.
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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.

#7.
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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.

#6.
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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.

#5.
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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.

#4.
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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.

#3.
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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.

#2.
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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.

#1.
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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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