Some folks may be interested in how I take photographs of the Northern Lights (great show last night). I felt posting two images from last night would help demonstrate why it is so important to play around with your camera settings. Both images are “straight out of my camera”. You really need to enlarge both photographs to compare … or better yet, download and toggle back and forth.
These two pictures were taken within one minute of each other. The first image where the line of the Aurora is brighter is with an ISO setting of 3,200. For the second image, I halved the amount of light reaching the camera by dropping the ISO by 50% to 1,600. Everything else was held constant … Aperture was 2.0, exposure was 15 seconds, white balance = auto and focus was set to infinity.
The location is NorthStar Lake in northern Minnesota, approximately 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. The time of the images were taken was about midnight just before the second peak (not as good as the one at 9:05 pm CDT).
I personally like the second image better (ISO 1,600) because it better represents what I actually saw. My camera is a Sony NEX-5t using a Rokinon 12 mm F2.0 lens. I always set my shutter for a 2 second delay in order that I do not jar the camera with pressing my shutter.
Smith Lake … also about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota