Fall Aurora in the Barrenlands
Day time activities: Leisurely hiking or boating or fishing for giant lake trout on the 100 mile long Mackay Lake or photograph the caribou herds and arctic wildlife.
Night time activities: Photograph the aurora borealis as it dances around the north star directly above you or silhouettes the ancient stone statues (inukshuk) over the arctic landscape.
Packages include the charter flights from Yellowknife to Mackay Lake Lodge and all accommodations, guides and meals. Monday to Friday: $2195.00; Friday to Monday $1795.00. Does not include fishing license, tackle, hotels in Yellowknife, and 5% GST.
Photographing the Aurora
Capturing the Aurora on film is a great way to remember your aurora viewing tour, although night photography is a bit different. Follow these basic tips and tricks and you’ll be able to capture the spectacle of the northern lights.
1. Eat Prior to Going Out
Shooting the Aurora can be, depending on the season, a cold experience, so eating a full meal about an hour before you go out will help your body stay warm when you are out late at night sky-watching.
2. Gather Your Gear
After eating, gather all your equipment. You’ll obviously need a camera, film or digital. It doesn’t have to be a fancy camera, either — it simply needs to be able to perform a long-enough exposure to capture the aurora. The exposure time can vary anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds, depending on the brightness of the aurora (more on exposure times later.) Old, manual film cameras are best, as you don’t have to worry about battery life, but the newer cameras work just as well. Pack extra batteries, a wide-angle lens, a cable release, film (400 speed or faster) if necessary, and a flashlight so you can see in the dark. Lastly, depending on the season, dress warmly!! Most likely, if you’re cold, you’re not going to enjoy your aurora viewing experience.
3. Camera Settings
If you are using a single-lens reflex camera, whether it’s digital or film, you will most likely want to use the bulb setting with a cable release so you can time your exposures. If you are using digital, set your ISO to 400 or higher. Likewise, if you are using film, use ISO 400 or higher. If you are using a newer camera, turn off autofocus and use manual focus mode. Set your focus to infinity, and set your aperture to it’s biggest opening, which is usually the smallest number.
Whether you are using film or digital, you will want to determine your shutter speed based on a combination of ISO and Aperture. Photography is basically painting with light, so what you are determining is how much light you will be exposing the film or sensor to. The faster the shutter speed, the better, as that will be a more accurate representation of the aurora you are seeing in the sky. Typically, anything longer than a 30-second exposure will give you slight star trails, due to the Earth’s rotation. Use your ISO and your F-stop and the chart below to determine your shutter speed.
And that’s about all you really need to know to capture the aurora on film. True North Safaris has the ideal facility for aurora viewing, as it sits directly under the Aurora Oval, and you’ll see some of the most spectacular Aurora displays on Earth. Preserving the experience on film is a great way to share the experience with others and remember the trip forever.
The following are sites that have information about the Aurora.
Astronomy North www.astronomynorth.com
The only Yellowknife-based aurora site, has a wealth of information on the aurora, including Aurora Forecasts, an Aurora photo gallery, and much more.