I present a 5-minute music video featuring the Northern Lights – the aurora borealis – captured in still images, panoramas, all-sky images, time-lapse videos, and ... in real-time videos! All are from early February and early March of 2016.
I shot all scenes at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, near Churchill, Manitoba, on the shore of Hudson Bay at a latitude of 58° North. Churchill’s location places it under the usual location of the auroral oval, providing spectacular displays of Northern Lights even on nights when locations to the south are seeing nothing.
I was at the CNSC to present sets of 5-night aurora viewing programs to guests from across North America. See churchillscience.ca for more details on their programs.
I shot all images with Canon 6D and Nikon D750 DSLR cameras, usually at ISO 3200. The fish-eye all-sky sequences were with a Sigma 8mm lens on the Canon, while most of the still images and other full-frame time-lapses were with the Sigma 20mm Art lens on the Nikon. For the “rapid-cadence” time-lapses I used 1- to 2-second exposures at an interval of one second.
The all-sky time-lapses are intended to be projected in digital planetarium theatres, recreating the scene on their 360° domes. Most full-dome sequences were processed through LRTimelapse software to handle the huge range in brightness of the Lights.
The real-time video clips were with the Nikon – set to ISO 25600 – and the Sigma wide open at f/1.4. While these clips are prone to digital noise, they do record the fast movement and subtle colour of the aurora much as the eye saw it. These were processed through Photoshop and the Camera Raw filter.
Temperatures ranged from a bitter -35° C to just (!) -15° C on most nights.
I kept the long-duration, all-sky, time-lapse camera going by placing it in a Camera Parka (atfrostedlens.com) and inserting disposable hand warmer packs inside the insulated parka. It worked very well, making it possible to shoot for up to 3 hours. Without it, the battery died after an hour.
Music is by one of my favourite artists, John Adorney, the selection If a Rose Could Speak, from his 2013 album The Wonder Well. It features vocals by Daya. The selection is used by kind permission from EverSound Music (eversound.com). Many thanks!