lenses for Northern Lights?

Started Mar 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
cplittleton Regular Member • Posts: 401
Re: lenses for Northern Lights?

I just did the Northern Lights at a resort outside Fairbanks, AK.  Great experience!  I have an LL Bean headlamp that does white or red light - it was perfect for the job.  My fellow photographers appreciated the 'dim' red light, and the headlamp kept my hands free.  Unfortunately, to get space in the resort where I went, I had to go when the moon was almost full, so a headlamp was only needed before moonrise.  After that it was bright enough to work without supplementary light.

I shoot on an older Konica Minolta 7D, and used Sony's Zeiss 16-80mm lens.  I never really opened it up much beyond 45 or 50mm, but it was nice to have some flexibility to compose with foreground trees in the 30-50mm range (since I had moonlight) in addition to the traditional 16-24mm shots.

One lesson learned was that I lost a few tripod feet in the snow.  Apparently the tripod leg and the feet shrank at different rates in the extreme cold (~5 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit), and the feet loosened up in the legs.  When I first realized what happened, I had a 10 minute search to find two missing feet, but I was able to find them and reassemble my tripod.

I also read to carry film in case my (admittedly older) digital body reacted poorly to the cold.  Sure enough, my 7D died part way through the shoot and I had to swap back to my even older Minolta film body.  Fortunately I had gotten some exposure feedback from the 7D and was able to do the film exposure math on the fly.  Unfortunately, I forgot that film becomes less sensitive at longer exposures, so many of my film shots were a stop or two underexposed.

There are many excellent resources on the internet that I looked at before I left.  Do a search and you'll find many web pages - a quick look will tell you which sites are aimed at serious photographers.  Each one will probably give you a helpful nugget or two.

Here's few a few of my keepers.

Aurora before Moonrise (digital)

Aurora and Moonrise (film)

Best in Show (film)


 cplittleton's gear list:cplittleton's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Nik HDR Efex Pro +2 more
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