Last Monday, my Aurora forecast app on the iPhone was reading high levels and there was a buzz amongst other astrophotographers I follow on Instagram. Exhausted from a another long day of work, I reluctantly grabbed my camera and headed out around 10PM.
I had no idea it would be one the best nights of my life.
On the grassy slope of a small pond, I arranged my camera and started looking for the Aurora. The sky in front of me was fairly illuminated but I assumed it was from the quarter-moon reflecting on clouds above the horizon. Then I took my first photo. “Wow, this is amazing!” Purple and pink pillars of light rose out of a soft green haze. It took a minute to fully believe that I was watching the Aurora Borealis.
I set up a time-lapse and waited. Once in a while, I could faintly see new columns of light with my own eyes, although it looked nothing like what the camera was seeing. All around me were hundreds of fireflies hovering above the wet, tall grass — I felt like I was at a noiseless fireworks show. The sound of constant water spilling from the pond’s runoff filled the night, along with fish jumping, an owl hooting, and two curious ducks who swam near me for hours.
During one of my time-lapse sessions, a blazing white streak burned across the sky, lighting everything around me. I have never seen a shooting star so bright. You can see it around the 8-second mark in the video above.
Unsure of what settings to use for my first attempt at photographing the Aurora, I eventually stopped my time-lapse and restarted it with a shorter interval. The wind had picked up at that time, bending the grass in front of me and creating small ripples on the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I thought were clouds quickly moving by but then I realized it was the Aurora growing stronger.
Waves of light rapidly pulsed across the sky, similar to the movement of a lazy flame. In complete awe, I watched the northern lights dance above my head like I never thought possible in New Hampshire. Quickly, I repositioned my camera, configured another time-lapse and spent the next hour watching pure magic.
By 2AM the next morning, I was feeling guilty for witnessing such beauty without my wife (who stayed home with our sleeping daughter) and knew that I had already captured some amazing footage. I packed up, looked at the Aurora one more time, and said, “Thank you.” Not two seconds later, another fish jumped directly in front of me as if to reply, “You’re welcome.”
What a stunning night it was. Stay tuned for more astrophotography and tutorials coming soon.