During a recent trip to Alaska with Dean Fitzpatrick of Wildlight Safaris I was once again witness to the amazing Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) known to this area. Having photographed them before, this time I also wanted to capture some time lapse footage as a better way of sharing with others just how incredible this display of light really is.
Dean and I were in Alaska to scope out an itinerary for a Photo Tour we are putting together for 2016 which will include the Iditarod dog sled race, the Auoroa Borealis and the amazing Arctic landscapes. If you want to know more about this tour, or express your interest in order to receive advance notice of when the tour will be finalised and open for sale, please drop me an e-mail or subscribe to my Photo Tours page here.
In the meantime, I wanted to share with you this short video I created of my favourite sequences from a night spent viewing the Aurora Borealis in Wiseman, a small “town” with a population of 13, well above the Arctic Circle. These images were actually captured during the full moon, traditionally the least desirable time to photograph the northern lights as it is believed the light from the moon dulls the spectacle. But as you can see here the lights were anything but dull – and the ambiance from the full moon enhanced the images by lighting the entire landscape in the foreground.
To shoot the time lapse sequence I set up the camera on a tripod, pre-focused, used manual exposure and manually selected the colour balance. I then set the interval timer to shoot at 7 second intervals. I used a 24mm lens set at 2.8, and a 4 second exposure at ISO100. The exposures were particularly short due to the combination of strong northern lights and the fact that it was shot on the night of full moon. The image sequence was then edited in Lightroom, and output via QuickTime and ProShow Producer to create the final video. Music by PremiumBeat.com (“Aionios – Epic” by Joel Martinson) .
Make sure you click the settings and choose 1080HD for the best viewing experience!
All images and video copyright Chris McLennan.
An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae; from the Latin word aurora, “sunrise” or the Roman goddess of dawn) is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind and, on Earth, are directed by the Earth’s magnetic field into the atmosphere. Most auroras occur in a band known as the auroral zone, which is typically 3° to 6° wide in latitude and observed at 10° to 20° from the geomagnetic poles at all local times (or longitudes). During a geomagnetic storm, the auroral zone expands to lower latitudes.
The above is from the Wikipedia article about the Aurora Borealis. Science aside, it is certainly an incredible spectacle to behold and one I never tire from seeing.