Photographing Aurora, Northern Sweden


PaulEvans

Link Posted 01/09/2012 - 18:17
Hi, I'm thinking of heading up to Northern Sweden this winter to attempt to photograph the aurora. So I'll be standing outside with the camera (K5) on a tripod for what could be hours between 9PM and 2AM. Temps can routinely hit -20 at night and may go down to -30, especially as I may be up a mountain! Anybody any actual experience of trying this and any helpful hints? I've found a few threads about general arctic photography (they were useful) but I think aurora photography could be pretty tough on the camera. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence to suggest it's possible!
I'll also take my Haig mount to do some guided astrophotography which will be similarly challenging for the k5.
Thanks guys

Paul
K3ii, DA16-85, DA35mm Limited, FA77mm Limited, 55mm f1.8 K, 135mm f3.5 M, DA300, DA 1.4 HD TC,
DA16-45, Sigma 15mm f2.8. Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro

mikeyscope

Link Posted 01/09/2012 - 21:43
Hi Paul

Sounds like an interesting expedition...

The K5 as you probably know has an advisory operating temperature range between -10 & +40 degrees C.

The cold on the batteries will drain the life from them fairly quickly, I would probably forget about a battery grip and invest in an extra two or three batteries keeping them warm in the pockets, a charcoal burning pocket warmer is also handy to help boost pocket warmth.

The other vulnerable item with cameras is their LCD which can slow or malfunction at low temperatures, if you want to keep the camera on the tripod throughout have an insulated bag or similar item to cover the camera & lens...always remember to replace the lens cap during longer periods of inactivity.

Your Haig Mount if a manual drive is ideal ...rather than motor driven for the reason of battery life as mentioned before.

Solar maximum is up to a year away so activity is still ramping up, with likely all sky auroras at that latitude your Haig Mount might have limited use with sky conditions so bright!

Mike
My Flickr Site

PaulEvans

Link Posted 02/09/2012 - 07:17
Thanks for the feedback Mike. Like your aurora photo on your Flickr site BTW. Insulated cover....hmmm., sounds like a large tea cosy!
Haig mount is powered via a stepper motor needs 12v, if car is nearby then I can run an LV extension lead and go off the car battery.

Paul
K3ii, DA16-85, DA35mm Limited, FA77mm Limited, 55mm f1.8 K, 135mm f3.5 M, DA300, DA 1.4 HD TC,
DA16-45, Sigma 15mm f2.8. Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro

mikeyscope

Link Posted 02/09/2012 - 10:19
Thanks Paul, the auroral arc is visible on the north horizon fairly regalarly throughout the winter as far south as Northumberland & North Lake District Hills. I have seen 3 solar maximums around approx. 1980, 1990 & 2000, the big displays will push the auroral arc directly overhead as far south as Northumberland & Yorkshire.

Yes a tea cosy if you lik but an insulated hat or spare insulated jacket would do...though not anything recently worn as any persperation will freeze instantly to the camera body & lens.
You can also make your own temporary camera insulated /waterproof/ dust coats from second-hand walking jackets ..& trousers (for large telephoto lenses) bought in charity shops...just pop the sleeve onto your camera lens be it telephoto or other & cut to length...then trim the breast, neck, back of shoulder blade & under arm to produce a liftable flap that covers the camera but still allows access to the controls and also serves as a light hood & protection for LCD in bright conditions

The mount won't use too much battery power but I now carry a cheap DC battery meter from maplins for checking car battery charge after getting caught out at Laggan Bothy in the Cairngorms.
The grease on the worm/screw (if greased) that drives the Haig platform may coagulate with the cold causing slowing & tracking errors ..a common problem with some equatorial drives in low temperatures, the soution is grease with a low freezing point or greaseless as used in Antarctica.

Mike
My Flickr Site
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.