night photography before hand , use of a tripod ,with spiked
feet add ons for ice/snow setup and which needs to be sturdy
and importantly comfortable to use and set at the right height
to avoid neck and back problems and with a ball head or similar
that is easy to move around and most importantly practice
operating all camera controls in the dark till it becomes second
for auroral activity and weather forecasts using the many different
phone apps available to warn when activity if high in your area
or on the way
you can afford a full frame camera remember it will give superior
results with less noise and the ability to use high iso routinely
- i am happy to use iso 12800 on my canon 6d if necessary
camera and lenses if you can afford it although most dslr's
are pretty reliable even so lenses do suffer problems with contacts
aurora is fickle and there is enough to do without being confused
by your camera controls and so if you are ready to capture it
you are half way there.
professional large fast cards and batteries as they are cheap
enough - currently using sandisk extreme pro 32/64 gb 95 mb/s
for street lights or other light pollution or then just maybe
it can add lighting to your image idea...
at a high point with westwards view to horizon especially if
coastal as aurora appears from the west when at its strongest.
interesting foregrounds, scope locations during daylight
but beware they become very different in the dark of night with
focus lens manually on stars - live view helps or focus peaking
on the most recent cameras is very useful
lens to keep focus point from moving off position
f2.8 or faster lens. Currently my favoured lens is the 14mm
samyang which is inexpensive, sharp at f2.8 and lacks chroma
manifesting as colour halos around periferal stars in images
rear camera display to minimum helps avoid under exposure by
thinking your images are too bright
histogram to ensure best exposure which by the very nature of
aurora will generally have a left hand side histogram
filter to avoid rings caused by interference fringes, concentric
rings on your images are not desirable !
mode select, turn off all in camera noise reductions
say iso 1600 start 10 seconds exposure
early means you can practice getting the right exposure for
the current ambient night sky and set up in good time for any
impending display. There is nothing worse than driving to your
location when activity begins....
trial images for "green" on a regular basis, a prelude
to the start of the display which your eyes may not see and
additional practice in advance of the display proper
torch with red light is essential to keep your eyes accustomed
to the dark and to see what you are doing when all hell breaks
loose and you get confused with settings and which way to go
with exposures - this happens more as you age...
monitor and change settings as display strengthens
iso to the known limit by experience of your camera without
excessive noise which provides raw images you can work with.
shutter speed retains structure and means you can capture more
images rather than a dissapointing "green splodge"
set 2s timer - already connect your intervalometer or shutter
release cable on camera so that at times of strong activity
you can set continuous shooting mode
1s to say 10 s range overall but not prescriptive
raw not jpegs - this is most important or you could try shooting
raw + jpeg
flashing highlights, remember try to never over expose as blown
highlights can't be recovered and opportunities of capture will
raw images using lightroom ( my preference ) or any other editing
to back up all images in 2 places
check lens in cold weather for condensation or you could ruin
a whole nights shooting. Use your lens hood to protect against
frost/condensation on your lens
between shooting, point your camera lens down or replace lens
cap to prevent frost gathering on the glass.
a cleaning cloth at hand to clean frost from lens if necessary
experienced take live video off tripod when display intense
at same time as multiple exposures on tripod with second camera.
Testing but achievable..
clothing...goes without saying
the time of year...snow, ice , autumn lake reflections, moonlit
landscapes etc all add different dimensions to your aurora
cloud cover and light pollution can make for interesting effects,