Nightly Night Photo – Aurora Borealis and a Little Luck

Aurora borealis and star trails

Aurora borealis and star trails in western North Carolina. Nikon FM2, Nikon 20mm lens, f/2.8, Fujichrome Velvia film, shutter speed about one hour.

Sometimes you just get lucky. About 11 years ago I spent the night on the west rim of Linville Gorge in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. I had planned to spend the entire night shooting star trails, and that’s just what I did.

Aurora borealis and star trails

Aurora borealis and star trails in western North Carolina. Nikon Nikkormat, Nikon 28mm lens, f/2.8, Fujichrome Velvia film, shutter speed about one hour.

Imagine my surprise when I got the film back a couple weeks later and discovered that I had captured more than just star trails. Strong solar activity had caused the aurora borealis to dance far to the south. I had heard that it was a possibility that night, but I couldn’t see it with my eyes so I figured it wasn’t happening. But the long exposure on the film was able to record it.

I’d like to be able to say that this sort of thing happens to me all the time, but I’d be lying if I did. I often use Pasteur’s famous saying, “Luck favors the prepared mind” to remind us that the more we learn and get out there, the luckier we get with out photos.

Yes, I was out there and wouldn’t have captured the northern lights otherwise; but let’s face it, this was nothing but pure dumb luck!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.