I grew up watching the Northern Lights dance across the northern sky of Saskatchewan, but once I moved to the big city I rarely witnessed the dancing lights; city lights does make it impossible to see them. Known as the Aurora Borealis, the lights are most active from September to April and I had read that this week they were expected to be particularly beautiful and active due to solar flares. It was just plain lucky that I would be visiting my home town in Saskatchewan this week, and I had hoped to spend at least one evening out trying to photography them. Monday we woke up to clouds and rain, Tuesday more clouds, well at least there wasn’t snow, finally Thursday night the clouds cleared!
About 10 pm we headed north out-of-town. We didn’t to drive too far north before we were able to get away from most of the lights, you see even in Saskatchewan where there is a population density of about 1 person per square mile, it is hard to get away from all the lights, so I was happy to get away from most of the lights! We could see the green glow in the sky, drifting along, thin and hazy, a glow along the horizon that I would never really be rid of. To be honest the northern lights weren’t very impressive, at that moment. In fact there were naysayers in the car, but I had high hopes.
After setting up the camera, with the aid of the trunk light (I forgot a flashlight). I set the camera to as small an f-stop as I could manage with a 25 second exposure, I set the manual focus so the horizon lights were in focus, then I set a 2 second timer on the shutter and I locked up the mirror to reduce camera shake, I was ready to close the trunk lid and stand in the dark to watch the sky.
Before long the lights got a little stronger, a little brighter, and a little more beautiful. The moon was shining brightly over my right shoulder, and the longer I stood out there the more my eyes became accustom to the dark, and before long the Aurora Borealis started to get a little brighter. Before long I was able to capture the beautiful Northern Lights dancing across the Saskatchewan sky. I was thinking I would head out one more time on Friday Night, but the clouds returned and I was even more grateful for at least one clear night while here visiting my home town.
I don’t think this is too bad for a first attempt, and I think I have found a wonderful if not a perfect excuse to go for a late night drive into the country, don’t you think?