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.
Camera: Nikon D100
Lens: Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8
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