On a mission to capture the Northern Lights

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by dewey, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    So I'm on a mission to see and photograph the Northern Lights sometime in the next three weeks. I have found a good prediction site at the university of Alaska, but I'm sure that's about as accurate as the weather forecast! ;)

    Anyway I am in the city of Edmonton Alberta and I imagine I'll have to drive North a ways to get a solid shot. I'll drive as far North as I need to... although I have read in some predictions that the lights are to be visible Sunday as far south as South Dakota but I'm sure it depends on atmospheric conditions and cloud cover.

    I was curious to hear from others in the area or anywhere up North about the lights.

    Thanks!

    Dewey
     
  2. shorty6049

    shorty6049 TPF Noob!

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    Well, I'm in MN, and i've seen them a couple times down here (st. paul area) but one site you may want to check out is spaceweather.com , they have predictions when there should be northern light storms, i'd say where you are is far enough north though, because i know northern minnesota is usually able to see them, but the farther north the better...
     
  3. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the link!

    This is where I have been looking:

    http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/

    This is the forecast for Saturday:

    "Auroral activity will be low. Weather permitting, low-level displays will be visible overhead in Barrow, Alaska, Tromsø, Norway and Tiksi, Russia, and visible low on the northern horizon from as far south as Winnipeg, Canada, Trondheim, Norway, and Igarka, Russia."

    So me thinks if it will be low overhead Winterpeg I could get a good view from somewhere up North like Fort McMurray... but Big Mike already told me not to drive on that road with the crazy rough necks in their pickups so we'll see.

    With my luck I'd drive up there and you'd be able to see um from Edmonton just fine. :lol:
     
  4. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    I live two hours from Edmonton and we often see them out here.
    The trick is to be out in the middle of no where, as far from major cities as possible obviously.

    If you plan on going on a major road trip then I'm very very jealous!! Wish I could join ya.
    If you're heading East of the city at all let me know. I know some great snowsnoeing areas :)

    As for places to shoot in Edmonton, it's really no secret but my favorite is the legislature building. It's one of the coolest buildings at night!!!
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with Neea, get out of the city...the light pollution usually kills the Norther Lights. I've seen them many times in the city (lived here my whole life) but it's few and far between. Driving north will help, and if you can get to an open spot, with a clear view of the northern horizon, that should help as well.

    As for which way to drive north...take your pick. One suggestion is Highway 43 (starts just west of Edmonton) it's actually the start of what becomes 'The Alaska Highway'...and goes northwest up to Grand Prairie and beyond.

    I'd love to go on a Northern Lights mission...(I'd love to have the time to do that)...have fun an good luck to you.
     
  6. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Okay so head out into the boonies... gotcha. Couldn't be any more dangerous than downtown Edmonton - are there always wolves running down the river in the middle if the city?

    :cokespit: :lmao:
     
  7. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    Wolves in the city.... I highly doubt it. We don't even see them out here although we've found tracks that are mostly likely wolves or MASSIVE dogs!!

    What about the highway heading towards Fort Saskachewan? I believe it will eventually take you to Red Water (with a few twists and turns. try maps.google.com)

    I know that driving into the city at night from the East you can see the lights in the sky from about Vegreville which is about one hour away.
    Your best bet would be to get onto Range Roads.
    If you have a gps take it with or else write down all your turns once you're off major highways.

    Again, if you head east at all let me know. I havent been out to take pictures much since the snow got here.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Where is the fun in that? :lol:

    It will, but why? :lol: It's an inside joke, I have many friends from Red Water and I take every chance I get, to poke fun of it.
     
  9. Patrice

    Patrice No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All I know about capturing the northern lights is - bracket bracket bracket !
    As far as getting around in the surveyed regions of Alberta nothing could be easier. The survey system in Alberta is based on a system of six mile by six mile grids called townships. The rows are numbered from TWP 1 at the US border and increment to the North. The columns are numbered incrementing to the west from N/S lines called meridians. The bottom right hand corner of the province is TWP 1 RGE 1 MER 4. There is an increment in the meridian on the N/S line running through Calgary, so TWP 1 RGE 1 MER 5 is at the US border South of Calgary. Within the grid system there is an allowance for roads at 1 mile intervals E/W and at 2 mile intervals N/S although not all are built. The N/S roads are called range roads while the E/W ones are called township roads. The range and township roads are for the most part fairly well marked but that really depends in which county you are in since it's a county expense to put the signs up. Range roads are marked, as an example, "RGE RD 50" with the next westerly road being marked "RGE RD 51". The "50" means it's the first N/S road of range 5 and "51" meaning it's the second N/S road of range 5. Six miles west of RGE RD 50 you will encounter RGE RD 60 and six miles West of RGE RD 51 you will be on RGE RD 61, etc. The TWP roads are similarly marked with the major difference being that for the most part they are at two mile intervals. The sequence thus would be "TWP RD 400", "TWP RD 402" with 400 meaning the E/W road at the bottom of the 40th township row while 402 meaning the E/W road two miles to the North. The ease of use is apparent once you buy a road atlas for Alberta, they are available at nearly every gas stop, just make sure that it has the Range and Townships marked along the edge of the pages. A word of caution though is that most of these "Range Roads" are not paved so be prepared for lot's of car washes. And another thing, once you are out wondering the Ranges looking for a dark spot to photograph the Aurora be aware that houses and people are a bit thin on the ground and people tend to look out for one another out there so don't be surprised to be asked often "Is everything OK, need any help?".

    Finaly - sorry for the long post but I hope it helps a little bit. Make sure you have some fun and say hi to the neighbours.

    Pat
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Woa, I'm getting flash backs to my days at NAIT :lol:...I remember learning all about the grid system. It's easy to understand but hard to explain...or something like that.
     
  11. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Okay so I'm looking out the 9th story window of my hotel yesterday, and again this morning and there are these BIG "wolf like animals" running around down there chasing rabbits... the hotel staff says they're coyotes... which is supposed to make me feel better I guess. :confused: I've never seen a coyote THAT big before, but hey this is the wild frontier right?

    I do have GPS on my laptop but I try not to use it... as Big Mike said what fun is that? I navigate by my gut instinct... which may be why I may end up in Uranium City on my way North LOL.
     
  12. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    WOW! That's very cool info thank you... the only navigation like that back in Florida is there is a 7-11 and a T-shirt shop every .5 mile :lol:

    And I'll bracket like a... well I'll bracket. :D If I actually do see the lights I would be cheesed if I botched the shots!
     

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