I anticipated a very difficult Sunday. I bought mom’s mother’s day present(s) early this year, just after she went to the hospital and things still sounded potentially routine. I got her some things that I knew she wanted, they weren’t very expensive, but the way she talked about them, I was kind of excited to see her reaction. Instead, in the first hour of Mother’s Day, I was the one getting a surprise.
For three years there have been knights where I’ve had all my camera gear packed and ready for me to go out and usually freeze my butt off for a meteor shower, or a rumored aurora borealis or some astro photography opportunity. Usually, a full moon or clouds, or false alert would put a damper on my night and leave me disappointed. Of course, mom knew how badly I wanted to get photos of these things.
Saturday night I was tired from my second job and sore from the past two days. I was just about to go to bed at midnight after winding down. I had to get my dogs back inside, but Katie ignored me while I was calling for her. In the meantime the timer in our security light on the front door went off, the light turned off and suddenly I could see a huge Aurora Borealis in the northern sky.
I got Katie inside and literally ran to get all my gear together. My tripod was in the wrong vehicle, my camera bag was in the house, I needed a flashlight, I needed a different lens. Once I had everything together I jumped in my truck and headed to a creek just down the road. One side of the creek faces North, the other South, so it works perfectly for astrophotography, especially Aurora Borealis.
I couldn’t find the boot for my tripod, so I used the tonneau cover on the bed as a support and snapped away with my remote trigger. I stayed out until 1:15 in shorts and slippers taking photos until the Aurora had faded significantly. After which, I went home with a surprising amount of peace.
Call it all a coincidence, but my week had been in a steady decline until Saturday when I really dreaded going to bed because when I woke up it would be Mother’s Day. Mom knew how much I wanted to get Aurora photographs and while I’m not a Mother. I decided to take this as a gift.
The photos turned out fair. better than any previous attempts at astrophotography by me. Next time I’ll be sure to have my tripod. Just for reference. I used a Canon DSLR with a 50mm F1.8 (nifty fifty). The F Stop was set to 2.8, the ISO was 800, and I used the bulb shutter mode so that I could hold my shutter open for varying times. Eleven seconds was okay, 13-15 was better and 20-30 was probably too much. I made sure to get foreground in the photo, without which astrophotography is often lacking something. It’s hard to beat using the water for a reflection. Here is my first success. Next time will be even better.