Top tips for Aurora hunters!

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By Steven Hanna: If you’ve been on social media at all over the last 24 hours you’ll have seen a huge number of aurora photos being shared.

It appears that half of the UK seemed to have been out with their camera!

Thanks to the amazing twitter feed of Aurora Alert Ireland, my phone was going crazy all evening with updates.

I went outside the house around 8:30pm and could visibly see the aurora from our front door.

I quickly grabbed the camera and took a test shot and straight away saw some purple pillars from the 15 second exposure. Game on!

So it was off to the Douglas Rd just outside Broughshane to shoot the aurora as it quite literally danced across the sky behind Slemish.

I was out for around 45 minutes, between 8:45pm and 9:30pm and the display did fluctuate quite a bit in that short period. At one point, I witnessed the pillars appear in the sky with my naked eye. A moment or two later, a beam appeared almost directly above Slemish mountain.

For those of you interested, I was shooting with a Canon 5DS and a 14mm lens, manually focussed on infinity.

The majority of the shots were taken at ISO2000, 20 secs at f2.8. I did play around a bit with my exposure time to see if it had any different effect but I was happy that this was the best ‘setting’ that worked for me.

I knew before even leaving the house that it was going to be all about the sky - so in my head I already planned to have Slemish as just a small silhouette and to fill the frame as much as possible with sky.

The fact that we had clear skies to the north and only an 8.1% moon (which wasn’t even visible) really helped make this quite an epic aurora experience!

A few useful tips for shooting the Aurora -

1. Get yourself as far north as possible (the north coast is usually ideal, although it depends on how strong the aurora is!).

2. Try and find somewhere as far away from light pollution as possible.

3. If you’re aiming to photograph it, use a tripod and set your camera to focus on infinity.

4. You may find that a shutter speed of anywhere between 10 - 25 seconds will yield good results.

5. Shoot with as wide open an aperture as your lens allows e.g. f2.8 or f4.

6. Start with your ISO around ISO1600 - ISO2000 and start to work upwards depending on your results.

7. Make sure and wrap up warm!