On March, 7th 2012, medium –sized Coronal Mass Ejection occurred on the Sun. Followed by a second one. Usually this is great news for photographers in the north of the world.
But two CMEs can seriously interact with each other and even cancel themselves out, leaving nothing for the photographers but icy cold nights. Satellites fare way better in this case.
So, while everybody was expecting huge displays of light, nothing at all and all gradations in between, we headed out to Oak Hammock Marsh, a few kilometres north of Winnipeg.
The lead picture of this post shows little activity, the lights were barely visible. Also, the full moon added to the display with extra light, making the Northern Lights even less visible.
One can get upset about that, but there is no way to change the position of the moon or even turn it off for the sake of a picture. So, the only thing you can do is include the moonlight. It can make for interesting pictures anyway. It looks as if the Auroras occurred during daylight.
After about an hour waiting for something to happen, we were ready to pack it up and go home. After all, waiting by –19C is not the best for your health and for your mood. Even more if it is around 11PM.
And that is when it started flaring up. Of course. So, unpacked the camera again, put it back on the tripod. The pictures here are the result of a freezing wait on a Parking Lot in the middle of nowhere.
If you are somewhere, Aurora pictures will be no good . But it’s not nice to say that Oak Hammock Marsh is “nowhere”, there is lots to see and do. Just not at 11PM…
First, it started with a little flare, barely visible, but the camera picked it up way better than my eyes.
Then the flare grew bigger to nearly envelope everything in the sky. I didn’t have a lens wide enough to get the whole sky, a fish-eye pointed straight up would have captured all the beauty of it (perhaps an idea for a future lens, who knows)
After that first flare, it seemed it wouldn’t stop. The light was nearly continuous. I think I have shot more than one hundred pictures, each at a few seconds interval. In some of these sequences, you can clearly see the evolution of the lights over time.
I did not shoot enough of the pictures to create a time-lapse movie of them, but that will be for a different time, and hopefully a warmer time too.
After a while, I lent out my tripod so that others could have a good shot at the lights as well. So I reverted to a more ancient method of stabilizing my camera: with a bean bag.
It works, but it’s not as comfortable as a decent tripod, that’s for sure. At the same time, you don’t have as much choice over the positioning of the camera and the foreground…
By the time I had the camera nicely set up and had shot many pictures, it was time to defrost a bit in the car. Finally we decided to leave around midnight, the Aurora seemed to have calmed down. Waiting for another burst of activity would have meant waiting another hour in the cold, perhaps longer.
Until next time, our Sun is still another year and a half away from its maximum activity level, so more auroras are still to come.
And I will be watching and photographing them.