Arctic winter photography + the aurora
November 24, 2009 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading up to the Yukon for three days this December, and I'm pretty excited. I'm interested in getting some nice Arctic winter photographs, especially of the aurora. Any tips for getting some good shots?

I currently have a Canon G10 and a decent tripod, but not much else in terms of equipment. I'm trying to figure out what else I might need. Some sites say I should purchase a cable release, and other sites say I should have several spare batteries on hand, in case my first one freezes. I'd like to keep costs low, however, so if something's not going to be essential, I don't think I'd want to get it. I'm also worried as to whether my camera will even function in the Arctic winter.

Anyone have any tips, either equipment wise, or just general picture taking techniques for harsh winter conditions? I might be able to borrow a DSLR just for those three days, but that's far from guaranteed. Thanks!
posted by elisynn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try not to breathe anywhere near the lens or you'll get it all frosty.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2009

Store extra batteries in your parka close to your skin (but not in contact with it). In the cold, they'll wear out fast.

Don't take your camera indoors if you plan on using it again that day. If you do, zip your bag so the camera warms up slowly. The condensation will be severe. If you can safely store it in the trunk of a car most times when not in use, do that.

Definitely use a cable release and the sturdiest tripod you can get your hands on.

Don't breath on the lens, yes, but also try to keep exposed parts of your body as far away from it as possible. Hold your breath when you look through the viewfinder (if there is one).
posted by klanawa at 5:41 PM on November 24, 2009

Unfortunately, sun activity's been way low. You might find this aurora forecast site helpful, or maybe not depending where you are.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:41 PM on November 24, 2009

I, as others have, can't stress enough that you should take extra batteries. More than just a few. Better too many than not enough. How often do you go up there sort of thing. Not sure what type of batteries your camera takes or where you'll be, but in the Yukon the places to buy them may be few and far between and maybe a little old. Plus expensive! Especially if the camera takes an odd size. I was up there in 2008 ( summer) and it was gorgeous. The towns are kind of far apart, but you should have a great time. I envy you.

At least the skeetos should be a little less lively ( or not ) than when I was up there too.
posted by Taurid at 10:42 PM on November 24, 2009

Does your camera have a self timer, the setting people usually use in to give themselves time to get into the picture? Since I'm too cheap to get a cable release, I set up my shot with the camera on a tripod and use the self timer to avoid touching the camera with my shivering hands when the picture is taken. The northern lights change quickly, so the delay sometimes causes me to shoot something as it's fading. Even so, it usually works quite well.

The lights are scarce and rather dim so far this year; I hope they'll wake up a bit for you.
posted by wjm at 4:14 AM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: leahwrenn: I have that site bookmarked, thanks (I'm heading to the Whitehorse area).

Taurid: What are skeetos?

Thanks for the advice everyone! Crossing my fingers that the northern lights will show up.
posted by elisynn at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2009


You are wise to go in the winter.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:50 PM on November 25, 2009

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