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© C. A. Linder

Scenic - Aurora Borealis

I call this "the impossible shot." On a moving ship, long time exposures should be impossible. Sharp exposures generally slower than 1/10th of a second necessitate the use of a tripod. If you've ever been to sea you can appreciate how much the ship vibrates - the engines are always running. Thus, the tripod legs would transmit these vibrations right to the camera. Then there's the motion of the ship itself. If the ship was moving or swaying, the stars in this shot would have been rendered as streaks or blobs instead of sharp points.

SO, how did I get this shot!? Well, I decided to just take my chances and use a tripod. As it turns out, the vibrations where I was standing (pretty high up, far away from the engines) were not as bad as I expected. Several other factors helped me out: the ship was on station and the weather was perfectly calm. If you look really closely, you can see that the stars are not as sharp as they are in real life - there was some ship motion. My digital camera allowed me to use a fast gain setting - equivalent to 800 speed film. This kept my exposure down to a nice, quick six seconds. Even though I saw the aurora several times on the cruise, this combination of factors never happened again.

Technical information:
Camera: Nikon D100
Lens: Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8
Film: Compactflash

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