Aurora borealis and Northern Lights – Churchill, Canada

During our last Polar Bear safari in the Churchill area, I had a fantastic opportunity to photograph the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights in the Canadian sky. The green lights are born from charged particles of the solar wind colliding with our atmosphere. The results are breathtaking for countries around the Arctic circle. Contrarily to what some people think, one can admire the Northern lights all year round and not just during Winter. All it takes is a clear night!

The photograph below is a panorama of an Aurora Borealis:

Aurora Borealis - Churchill, Canada

Aurora Borealis in the Churchill area, Seal River, Hudson Bay, Canada.
ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 30 sec. | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens at 17mm, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

I was quite happy at my first try at creating a Northern lights photograph. In retrospective, I should have dialed in f/4 instead of f/7.1 to allow for more lights and a bit less noise. Note that the surface blur filter from Photoshop did quite a nice job at eliminating noise… The Aurora Borealis does not last all night long, sometimes just a few minutes in the middle of the night!

Northern lights - Churchill, Canada

Northern lights in the Churchill area, Seal River, Hudson Bay, Canada.
ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 30 sec. | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens at 17mm, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The creation above is a vertical capture. The Northern lights are not very static and move in a cloud motion in the sky. One moment, you see them in full and the other they start to slowly vanish. I wish I had had more chances at this exercise! Next time…

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Steven

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