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The Aurora Forecast Service

apple-touch-icon-152x152Because I shoot a lot of aurora’s I have created an Aurora Forecast Service.

The service gathers all available data from the ACE spacecraft, the GOES’s satellites, as well as local NOAA estimates and presents it to users to assist them by giving them a short aurora forecast. Normally the next hour.

IMG_3924The service is compatible with full screen mode on iOS and android devices, all you need to do is add it to your home screen for future use, and it will remove the pesky Safari URL bar and footer. :)

 

The service also allows you to report sightings of an aurora, which will be visible in real-time to other users of the service.

As well as real-time forecasting you can also view archived dates, include archived reports of aurora’s

 

 

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Water and Rock (Tessellated Pavement).

The Tessellated Pavement, Tasmania

IMG_8241It’s taken me a while but last night the weather was favorable and I managed to finally get a reasonable Aurora over the ‘Pans’ at Eaglehawk neck. As an added bonus I also scored a little airglow as well, seen here as the green glow to the left of the picture :)

For these shots I used an ND Grad filter to darken the sky allowing more exposure in the foreground without overexposing the glow of the Aurora.

“The most well known example of a tessellated pavement is the Tessellated Pavement that is found at Lufra, Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula of Tasmania. This tessellated pavement consists of a marine platform on the shore of Pirates Bay, Tasmania. This example consists of two types of formations: a pan formation and a loaf formation.

IMG_8229The pan formation is a series of concave depressions in the rock that typically forms beyond the edge of the seashore. This part of the pavement dries out more at low tide than the portion abutting the seashore, allowing salt crystals to develop further; the surface of the “pans” therefore erodes more quickly than the joints, resulting in increasing concavity.

The loaf formations occur on the parts of the pavement closer to the seashore, which are immersed in water for longer periods of time. These parts of the pavement do not dry out so much, reducing the level of salt crystallization. Water, carrying abrasive sand, is typically channeled through the joints, causing them to erode faster than the rest of the pavement, leaving loaf-like structures protruding.”

-WikiPedia.

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Night Photography, Better Body or Faster Glass?

IMG_8214I’m starting to rethink the idea of fast glass over body for night photography as the ‘priority’, let me explain.

In general terms we say get the best fast glass you can and don’t worry too much about the body, update that later. I think for night photography its possibly the opposite or neutral. Maybe get a good body first, then faster glass later.

Why? Well I’ve been testing a lot of sensors recently for noise, particularly for long exposure noise and it’s fairly easy to see that the cheaper crop bodies do not stack up against the full frame cameras very well at all, at least if you exposing for minutes at a time.

Based on my testing I can’t see a one stop advantage from F4 to F2.8 in glass out weighing the performance gain going from a crop to a full frame body. I have no doubt that a D610 with an F4 lens is going to perform better than a D7100 and a f2.8 or even f1.4 lens.

Of course in the long run faster glass means lower ISO and shorter exposures which for Aurora shooting is important to capture those beams. Just don’t rule out a body upgrade before a glass upgrade. If you have an older crop body camera I don’t think you can expect faster glass to solve all your problems. Consider your upgrade carefully. :)

In the long run the ideal is a good body and fast lens, which does not always need to be expensive, considering you really only need a manual lens for night work.

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Aurora Australis

Reviewing the D810 and D610 Sensors.

Hi All,_MG_6790

So the new Nikon D750 is awesome right? But there seems to be some very conflicting information available on the internet.

Nikon have claimed that the new sensor in the D750 performs much better than the existing technology currently being used in the D8X0 and D6X0 cameras, particularly when it comes to low light and noise performance.

However Dx0’s testing revealed that the D750’s sensor is only just on par with the D610 and offers little advantage based on their testing.

So how do the D610 and the D810 compare to the new D750 for long exposures?

Well the data is in, head on over to the Long Exposure Sensor Test page for the results. Thanks again to Walch Optics for allowing me to run the tests.

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Iron Pot Pano Small.

“Someones up late”.

Iron Pot AuroraHad one of those nights last night where I could just not sleep, so I decided to head out and see if I could get a nice shot on a beach where I recalled someone had built a makeshift stick “hut”.

The beach faced north, so I knew if the Aurora Australis was active I’d have to do at least a 200 degree panorama to get it all in. In the end it was only four shots with my 16-35 lens.

I have titled it “Someones up late”.

Shot shows the Iron Pot lighthouse at the mouth of the Derwent River in Storm Bay with Bruny Island to the right (Tasmania). Pictured to the left is a single shot from the same location a little further down the beach.

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'Working Late', Aurora over Mortimer Bay, Tasmania.

Oblivious to the lights.

IMG_7875When your out shooting late at night you have a lot of time for thinking during exposures and between shots, especially if your by yourself. I often think of all those people at home, watching TV, or asleep in their beds, oblivious to what is going on around then, and the silent lights that weave across the night sky above them.

I think the mood in this shot sums up how I often think of those people. They are inside, working away or watching some program on TV. Meanwhile outside the lights are dancing in the sky and the stars are shining brightly on a perfectly clear and moonless night.

The picture was taken in Mortimer Bay (Tasmania). The photograph to the right was taken only a stones throw from the boat shed when the Aurora was a little more active.

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