Worth the Wait!

It finally happened! The dark sky danced as I sat awestruck in my lakeside campsite at Quetico Provincial Park in northern Ontario. The Northern Lights were on full display and I was mesmerized. Undulating green waves pulsed overhead. Subtler, but equally beautiful, movement occurred all across the sky at eye level.

 Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (8s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (8s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

It's hard to believe given my recent proclivity for the north that I haven't seen the Northern Lights this well since childhood. Believe me... it was worth the wait!

I already had the proper lens on my camera for night images - the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. It's manual focus and manual aperture. So old school... I love it! The irony was not lost on me as I googled "how to photograph the Northern Lights" while I was far removed from any city. (There was strangely good cell coverage in the campground.) The tips were simple - use f/2.8 and experiment with exposures between 5 and 25 seconds. So experiment I did! I moved my tripod around and used my headlamp to illuminate nearby trees and help position them in the image. I used live view on the camera to focus and construct a composition that might work. Which one is your favourite?

 Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (25s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (25s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

 Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (10s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (10s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

 Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (10s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Northern Lights, Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario (10s exposure; f/2.8; ISO 1600)

It was hard to go to sleep and potentially miss more of nature's greatest show but clouds eventually rolled in and cut the lights. It was after midnight but that didn't stop me from getting up at 6:15 the next morning for a quiet paddle on pristine Pickerel Creek. In only one night, Quetico quickly rose to one of my favourite places!