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How strong is Aurora's light?

”This is going to be the best Aurora so far this season.”

My cousin said a few months ago that she’d like to join me some time when I’m out shooting the Northern Lights. If the forecast is uncertain I don’t take the risk of taking someone with me and end up not seeing the Aurora.

But that was not the case yesterday. I knew we would get to see something very special. So I said to her it would be the best Aurora so far in the 2017/2018 season. Everything pointed in that direcion: a cloud of particles from the sun heading our way. A clear sky. New moon. And even a negative magnetic field value which boosts the Aurora Borealis effect. Everything just the way it should be.

Starting point

We went to little harbour at 10:30 pm. When we arrived there was a huge diffuse cloud stretching right over us from horizon to horizon. It was a good sign. And then it grew in strength. And it became very strong!

For night photography nerds ISO 800, f/4 and 4 seconds might say something. (I know it also says I should buy a faster lens.) For the rest of you: The Northern Lights were so strong it would almost have been possible to read a book in their light. Almost.

I have to say something about the strength. When looking at Aurora photos on the Internet you might get the impression that the Aurora is so strong that you would need sunglasses. It never is. Never ever even close. Remember everything is pitch black around it and the camera collects the light for seconds in order to capture it. It's impossible to film it unless you have very specialized equipment. It's anything but strong. But in an environment without much light pollution it becomes clearly visible and stunningly beautiful.

4 seconds, f/4, ISO 800. Still the lightest parts are almost overexposed.

This was not the largest Aurora I have seen but definitely one of the stronger ones. And it moved and evolved all the time. I ran around at the harbour trying to capture different things in the foreground. Boats, trees, houses. And myself.

At 12:30 am it started fading and we went home.

Aurora selfie. I just had to take one.

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