Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Know Thy Camera–Or Else…

So a few weeks back I was completing the Sunday evening ritual of wheeling the trash to the end of the driveway where it would “magically” disappear before I left for work the next morning.  It was then that I happened to notice a faint green glow in the northern sky which gradually intensified into one of the better displays of the aurora borealis that I’ve seen in some time.  I stood and watched for a few seconds before I went back to tell my wife and grab the camera/tripod.

As I was setting up, my wife commented on how it seemed to build up for about 45 seconds to a minute before it would fade back down to being barely noticeable.  By then I was setup, switched the camera to aperture priority, closed the aperture down to get a longer exposure and then clicked the remote release.  Exactly 30 seconds later I heard the click of the shutter and subsequently watched the sky turn a bright green and quickly fade back down.

Ahhh!  I need probably a 90 second or 2 minute exposure but my camera automatically cuts off at 30 seconds unless… unless I SET IT TO BULB MODE!  Right. So bulb mode? How do I do that again?  Menu option? Mode dial? Maybe if I just hold down the release on the remote and keep it depressed??? No, no and nope.

Eventually, after much trying to locate “Bulb Mode” in the dark of night, I conceded defeat and ran back to the house to look it up on my cheat sheet.  “Turn the exposure  mode to MANUAL and then select the shutter speed immediately after 30 seconds”. Right.

Out the door, down the driveway, mode… dial… press remote shutter release and lock….. Hey. Where’d they go?  As I sat and waited for one minute… then two minute…. then three, it became obvious that I missed my window.

The moral of the story? Not only do you need to read the manual, the book, the cheat sheet, but you also need to practice these things so that when the time comes you aren’t left fumbling as I was.

Did anyone else who remembered “bulb mode” get any decent shots of the Northern Lights?


madmblue said...

I sure did-- but I went up to the south shore of Superior to get mine: http://500px.com/photo/15498929

Unknown said...

Incredible shot, madmblue! That's what a Northern Lights shot should look like! Thanks for sharing.

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