A Kp9 Solar Storm

Like many people in the northern hemisphere, our family went out to view the aurora last night.  I’m used to seeing Kp5 storms with an occasional Kp6.  However, it takes a solid Kp6 storm to see the northern lights here in Central Michigan, and I’ve only been able to really catch seeing some lights along the northern horizon once or twice in the 20 years we’ve lived here.

That changed last night with the Kp9 storm.  Not only were we able to see the aurora, they spanned the entire sky.  It was beautiful.  

For camera setup, I started with a 24-70mm f2.8, but quickly found that 24mm wasn’t wide enough.  I was glad I had thrown the 16-35mm f4 into my bag.  I lost a stop of light, but exposures were still in very reasonable range: most of my images were taken at f4 at 800 ISO for around 5 seconds.  Post processing on these were pretty minor: I adjusted the exposure and bumped up the Clarity and Dehaze in Lightroom to highlight some of the streaks of light.  I left the Saturation alone without any adjustments, because it’s way too easy to overdo the aurora colors.

The last image was a multi-step process to get right.  I ended up having my family pose, then I switched to auto-focus, shined a phone flashlight on them to allow the camera to focus, then turned off the flashlight and switched to manual focus before starting to take the picture.  It took some trial-and-error, but I’m happy with how this one turned out.

Hope you were able to enjoy the view as well!

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