My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

When the skies dance

 BRILLIANT DISPLAY: The image above is a composite of two photographs I took so I could fit the entire auroral oval into the shot. This image was taken just north of Marion in Osceola County, Mich. around 10:30 a.m. when the lights were at their peak brightness.

BRILLIANT DISPLAY: The image above is a composite of two photographs I took so I could fit the entire auroral oval into the shot. This image was taken just north of Marion in Osceola County, Mich. around 10:30 a.m. when the lights were at their peak brightness.

This will be a relatively short post because I want the photographs to speak for themselves.

St. Patrick’s Day this year was a special one for watchers of the night sky because the skies were filled with green — even over Michigan.

One of the largest geomagnetic storms in recent years buffeted the Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday evening creating brilliant displays of dancing lights as early as 9 p.m.

There was no other option for me — I HAD to go out and photograph them.

I started my journey just after sunset and watched the faint glow of the Northern Lights fill up the horizon. To the naked eye the lights only looked like a faint blob, but as the night progressed you could clearly see waves floating through the sky.

 LIGHTS OVER HERSEY: I took this image just east of Hersey, Mich. where there is a nice elevation and a lot of open field. The auroral oval was clearly visible just after sunset and curtains of light danced in the sky as the hours passed.

LIGHTS OVER HERSEY: I took this image just east of Hersey, Mich. where there is a nice elevation and a lot of open field. The auroral oval was clearly visible just after sunset and curtains of light danced in the sky as the hours passed.

It was simply spectacular.

The lights peaked around 10:30 p.m. and by then I was in northern Osceola county — this proved to be advantageous because there were very few city lights to affect my shots.

I set up a tripod for each shot and took 15-second exposures with an ISO of roughly 2500 and a wide open aperture of f/2.8 on my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM lens. The most shocking setting was my ISO: 2500.

The lights were THAT bright.

Normally I’d have to resort to using an ISO of 3200 or more, which in turn creates a very noisy, nasty image.

The images I took that night were clean, crisp and beautiful.

Keep an eye on whether the Northern Lights will be visible by visiting spaceweather.com and be sure to check the weather forecast so you know if the skies will be clear.

Hopefully this isn’t the last big light show this year. I can’t wait for the next one.