On October 8th, I had been awaiting word from the small October 6th CME, due to arrive between the 8-9th. All day, I had been updating the data from Solarham, along with getting reports from some of the guys over at the Alberta Aurora Chasers group on Facebook. By 9:30 pm, it seemed that the CME had arrived. With the weather over Edmonton mostly cloudy, I didn’t put too much thought into getting out and shooting the potential show. In between cleaning the condo, packing for work, and editing images from my trip to Mount Assiniboine earlier in September, I kept poking my head outside to check the cloud cover to the north, while updating all of the weather apps on my phone. Around 1:30 am there was not a cloud in the sky, and from my balcony I could see the aurora with my naked eye. I have always wanted to shoot the aurora over the Edmonton skyline and figured it would be a good opportunity to do so, as I didn’t want to travel far because I was flying out to work at 7:00 am on the 9th.
With my batteries fully charged and empty memory cards in the bag, I grabbed my gear, loaded up the 4runner and headed towards Gallagher Park which is right close to the Muttart conservatory. I was originally hoping to shoot the skyline with the pyramids in the foreground, but for some reason, the lights were turned off. So I had to change up my vantage point and decided to head a little farther west on Connors Road. There I found a clear view of Edmonton and set up my camera. The first images on the back of my LCD screen showed a lot of blown highlights from the city lights when exposing for the aurora. So what I did was screw my filter holder onto the 24mm 1.4 Bower lens and insert a soft 3 stop GND filter to tone down the city lights. I was able to stop down to f/4 from f/1.4 and shoot at ISO 800 while maintaining a shutter speed of less that 5 seconds. Shooting with these settings allowed me to ensure that the aurora movement was relatively frozen, instead of a green blob, and also retain a lot of detail in the buildings. And with these settings I was able to get some nice “star effects” from the street lights.
The top image is; 6 vertical shots merged into a high resolution 1:2 aspect ratio panorama, while the bottom image is just a single shot taken from a time lapse frame. Stay tuned for the time lapse which should be really cool! View these in a dark room for your viewing pleasure 🙂
Buy the print here.
Buy the print here.