Monday, 3 March 2014

More 'Mirrie Dancers'

I doubt that there were many people that didn't hear about the recent aurora ( or Mirrie Dancers' as they are called in Shetland) or see them. I gather that at least the glow could be seen as far south as the Home Counties and across to south Wales and even down to Jersey.

I was on the pc around 7pm and took a look at and saw that the map for the north pole was 'red hot' - ie signifying a strong aurora; going outside I could see it was already pretty strong. As Catriona was away (and the girls were at home) I couldn't go out for long, I headed up to Lamba Ness with the idea of setting up the camera to do a time-lapse and leave it there for the night and hopefully get some pictures. There are several draw backs of leaving the camera unattended and they are,  i) the batteries only lasted around 6 hours, ii) the exposure is set no matter what the light levels are, and iii) the view point is also fixed - obviously. I'm still no expert at doing auroras or time-lapse, but believe me, the first ones I took 5 years ago are pretty rubbish. I mentioned in my last blog about the settings that I use, but one thing has changed since then and that is the battery life. What I have now is a battery pack which has a huge 6000mAH life per charge. (On this evening in particular, I started the camera at around 8pm and picked it up the following morning at 10am and the camera was still going strong - although the images were being over exposed by then).

Setting the camera up in a water proof plastic box which I had converted for the purpose, I headed off home. In the first picture around 8 minutes after I pressed the cable release, you can the trail of my car lights as I drove home.

By the time I had reached home, it was really beginning to 'kick off' so to speak. I called the girls and we stood outside for quite a while watching it going on all around us. What did concern me though, was that most of the 'action' was going on to the south west of us, very little seemed to be in the north - which was the direction my camera was pointing in ! I then found out my 40D in order to take some shots around the house, bearing in mind (as I'd mentioned before) that it's not good at high ISO's and also that as my wide angle was with my 7D, I'd have to use either the 24-105 (not really wide enough) or use the 18-50mm 'kit' lens which is at the best, pretty awful as far as I'm concerned. Hey ho.

I can't really describe the sight and feeling of an aurora like this one, it was by far the best I'd seen up here. I first saw it just after 7pm and it was still going on (although fading) at 2.30am when I headed to bed. It was difficult to know which direction to look as at its height, almost every direction had swirling curtains which faded in and out, often changing colour  from green to red and then back again. Below are a few pictures from the evening/night............

My car lights as I leave Lamba Ness at 8.45pm

From home looking west at 10.30pm (with 40D)

Looking towards Baltasound sometime after 1.30am (40D)

The ones below are from Lamba Ness on the 7D while I was at home, with the last one as dawn was breaking....

At Lamba Ness the camera took 1500 exposures but the last 300 or so were overexposed due to it being set on manual. Like I said earlier, I'm no expert at time lapse and there's still a lot to learn but its also a bit of fun to do. Below is a YouTube link to the images, there are several dark sections but bear with it if you want to....

The pictures below are a few more from the last couple of years......

 From Ordaal Jan 19th 2013

 Ordaal Jan 22nd 2012

 Ordaal 'star trail' March 2011

 From Ordaal Jan 2012

 From Ordaal Sept 2011

Star trail from Ordaal Sept 20th 2013


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