As I have seen so many questions on Facebook from newbies to aurora viewing ask some variant of the question “Do you see colour with the naked eye?”, I decided to show some examples. I have desaturated the colour files, it gives a reasonable idea of what you usually see, although usually somewhat FAINTER than these images show. In a strong aurora you can see some colour, mostly red or green, but usually fleeting and faint.
The naked eye does not have the dynamic range to see the colours of the weaker auroral events, which is why we use long exposures when shooting tithe camera. Most of these were 15-25 seconds, at high ISO settings.
I hope this is helpful to those wishing to go out to view. Everyone’s vision is different, too, you may see colour and I may not, or vice versa, even when we are standing side by side.
There are many useful Facebook groups, I have listed them, with links, at the end of this article.
And for an explanation of the aurora and what causes the various phenomena, see good old Wikipedia!
And most importantly – enjoy the show!!
From the top
Beams are often seen during the aurora, they are ion waves. You will see the beams flicker up, they look like someone shining a torch, and they ‘run along’ in one direction and then back (usually). Night of 7/8 October 2015. Mortimer Bay beach, Tasmania
2. Picket fence or piano keys, night of 7/8 November 2015. Goat Bluff, Tasmania. This phenomena was seen of to the west of the normal southern aurora alignment. The beams were a forerunner to the proton arc (#3 below) and the white amorphous cloud at the top of them was the beginning of that phenomena.
3. The proton arc at its height. The most exciting aurora I have ever seen, I consider myself very privileged to have captured this.
4. The ‘blob’ event of 19 March 2015. Blobs occur at an angle to the normal southern oriented aurora – this one was almost due west. Naked eye it just looked like a funny cloud. The start was the small blob, then it extended to the long bar.
Then Facebook groups – general ones and state specific. I have NOT included ‘secret’ groups or Alert Now groups, you’ll find links to those on the various pages for your area.
Over the weekend of 15-17 April, 2016 I teamed up with three other like minded ladies and off we went to Lake Dobson, in Mt Field National Park, southern Tasmania, on a Fagus chase.
Fagus (Nothofagus gunnii) is a small tree, usually growing up to 2 metres. It is Tasmania’s only deciduous tree, and has a superb autumn display.
Best known as fagus, the deciduous beech turns a spectacular range of autumn colours, from rust red through to brilliant gold, during late April and May.
On Friday 15 April two os us set off to spend two nights at the Government Huts on the Lake Dobson Rd (bottom centre on the map) and the other two ladies joined us on Saturday morning. We travelled via new Norfolk – spying many Targa Tasmania cars along the way – with a spot of hawthorn berry and rosehip foraging at Plenty, arriving at the visitor centre at noon. After collecting our key, we trekked up the snakey Lake Dobson Rd, in good condition from recent grading, to the Huts.
On arrival Dawn and I decided to check out the Snowgum track which leads up to the top of the range and the Tarn Shelf. My HEMA map described it in a way that made it sound like an easy stroll. NOT SO!
I had, fortunately, had the foresight to put out a call to the Southern Tasmania Ski Association to ask if anyone was going up that weekend so I could, hopefully, access the locked gate and drive up to the ski huts – saving us a few kms up and return, as I have walking problems over long distances and rough ground (more on that later).
Bishwa Oakes and Ambrose Canning responded magnificently – thank you people – and I thus had a Jeep Track key. After dumping our great in the Fagus Hut, we drove up Lake Dobson parking area and on through said gate to the Mt Mawson Ski Hut – the van then decided it didn’t like the gravelly corner and that was as far as it was taking us, thanks very much! We thought, no drama, there is the Snowgum track almost adjacent, so off we went.
Now please bear in mind, I am 62, reasonably fit but with an arthritic ankle (25+ yr old never diagnosed break) and Dawn is a few years younger but not super fit either. The things I had read and the people I had asked said we’d be fine if we went slowly. Well, there wasn’t much choice on that score, as the track turned out to be a boulder scree with barely a patch of flat track or earth until we got to the lookout. I was really, really glad I had my sturdy hiking staff.
This is the track looking down from the lookout, so do bear in mind what I said earlier about problems on rough ground!, and the view of Lake Seal from up there, plus one across from the lookout (marked on the map) to the area of the Tarn Shelf to the right of the day shelter. It was magnificent!
However, we were rather knackered and it was starting to come over very windy and sprinting, and we just wanted to get down. There was supposed to be an easier track, going back to the top of the section of road we had not been able to drive up, going off from the lookout. We cast around for a while trying to find this track, but no luck, We found an area of duck boarding but it ended in what, to us, looked like an impassable boulder field. As it was now after 4pm we just headed back the way we had come, and arrived back at the car sore and tired. Some of the large rocks I’d scrambled up on the way up had to be negotiated by sitting on the edge and dropping over!
The booklet on the huts and area thankfully informed us the Fagus was usually good around lake fenton, a nice FLAT access just a couple of kms back down the lake Dobson road. So with en expedition there planned for the morning, it was dinner, a glass of wine and an early night, in a hut that was beautifully warm from the wood fire stove.
Saturday 16 April
A lovely morning, despite light rain, and a small explore round the area of the huts after Gwenda and Sharon arrived. We saw possum, wombat and wallaby scats – and some from the more invasive and undesirable species of US (shame on you visitors), plus some unmentionable rubbish which I put in out rubbish bag – but apart from those small blast it was lovely.
The only drawback at the Huts is having to walk to the deep drop composting loos, but it’s not far and better than none!
We set off for Lake Fenton round 9.30, in drizzly rain and quite gusty wind. It’s just a 5 minute drive back eastwards, and we parked near the gate. The fagus area is right at the gate, very convenient, and suitable to take quite small children to. But close access does require, again, rock scrambling!
We saw all colours of fagus here, from green to dark red. The leaves of the tree are very small, I have included one with my fingers in them to give an idea of scale.
After getting out fagus fill, we explored the small area around between the entry to the lake and the road, to the east, which includes the outlet for the water flow and the old lake Fenton Hut (simply marked as ‘hut’ on the map) built in the 1920s by Bill Belcher, appointed the first ranger of Mt Field National Park in 1917.
We saw a lot of different types of vegetation and fungi. There us a very great diversity up here, and it’s a fabulous area to visit.
From here we walked back to the dam wall area, where I saw a plant I’d never seen before, which I think is Mountain rocket, Bellendena montana, although the sources say it flowers from December to January, so I am still not sure. It was growing near the lake wall in a disturbed area of ground by a fence.
After the explorations dawn and I decided on a rest, and the others went to have an explore over Wombat Moor towards the south along the walking track – a somewhat wet and muddy decision, as it turned out!
After a cup of delicious hot soup and a bit of a rest, we wandered around for a few shots round the huts, and when the other ladies returned organised dinner and a good chat round the fire.
Sunday 17 April.
I was up about 6am, and caught a very brief and pretty sunrise with pink clouds and some mist rising from the higher slopes.
After packing the vehicles, we set off, Gwenda and Sharon for the Tarn Shelf circuit – well done ladies, a truly epic achievement – and dawn and I for a rather more sedate explore round the foot of lake Dobson, close to the car park. The water its amazingly clear and there is a lot of fallen timber beneath the surface. And wombats really do do square poo!
After that, we headed home, with frequent stops for fungi shots at the Woodland walk and by the sides of the road.
Last stop was the Visitor Centre to drop off the key.
And a good time was had by all, despite some of us not actually reaching the Tarn Shelf.
I haven’t been getting out enough lately with the camera, due to being ‘busy, busy, busy’ and lately, to a broken wrist which restricted me from driving. But had the pesky plaster off on Monday, so yesterday we trotted off to the Tasman Peninsula for the third annual Koonya Garlic Festival – described as “a one day celebration of garlic through community produce, food & drink, music and educational talks. This is THE PLACE to trade or buy garlic, garlic breath or garlic tales.”
All images with Fuji X-T1 and XC 18-55 f2.8 lens
Held at the lovely grounds round the Community Hall and Bushfire Brigade shed, it’s a real fun outing. At just a gold coin donation to the local SES for entry, it’s a bargain.
We even got a couple of bags of sheep poo for OUR garlic bed, ready for autumn planting. We finally have our shit together!
Included on the program of events are talks, tastings, cooking demos and fun activities for the kids such as a garlic and spoon race and a garlic pinyata.
There’s also a garlic competition with prizes in the hard and soft neck varieties.
And lots of lovely Tasmanian food, wine and other goodies on show.
And if you got tired, well there is always the grass for that quick ‘revive me’ nap we all sometimes need during a long day out
Recommend the festival to anyone who likes garlic, fine food, good produce and a fun day out.
Well, wouldn’t I love to visit the US for this. I can dream, you understand, to do it in reality is probably out of my financial reach.
I could start up in Washington where Warwick has relatives, hire a camper van, drive down to SC (Hello Scott Mitchell) where totality is, then I’d love to wind my way up via Denver at least (always wanted to see it) to Seattle (Hello Maribeth Culpepper), turn in camper van, maybe squeeze in some visiting in Canada and fly home.
I sure wouldn’t be able to see everything but there has to be some nice scenery along the way.
I will start looking into what I can sell. My body won’t do it, all those 5cent bits would weigh too much on the plane.
See the EclipseWise page for all about the eclipse and an interactive map
So, where are all my US friends located? Working from north to south and east to west.
The eclipse is not too far from him, totality in Tennessee is not far to the north – by our Aussie standards of distance, anyway. I am looking at small places, Spring City looks well located as does Sweetwater, Tellico Plains and Andrews – all on or close to the line of totality. I’d plan to get to the area a couple of days before and suss out the best spot. The map below shows possible places – the green GE marker is Greatest Eclipse, the red ones are the general area I’d consider. I will avoid that as many people go there to try and get ‘perfect’ oval shapes for the eclipse sun, I’m not that fussy and quieter sots are best, IMHO!
It’s a pity it falls right in summer, accommodation wise, but good weather wise. It looks as though most Tennessee schools are back by mid-August, though, that’s a relief.
Maribeth Culpepper is way over the other side in Seattle – I plan to end up there, but it could turn round and start put there. Will depend on fares etc and, of course, finances overall.
The ole buckaroos are the big problem, naturally, as they are to us all, We’re on a fixed income, so I’ll have to devise some means of money making. Any and all suggestions very welcome!
This article is a response to the familiar cry of “it must have been photoshopped” that we see so often on the social media sites. There are a huge number of factors affecting the way we see colours and the image editing software – the digital darkroom (see my earlier article here) – the artist uses is pretty far down the queue!
And there are a huge range of high end programs such as like Paintshop Pro, Corel, Photoshop, Iridient Developer, Affinity Photo etc. Many artists don’t use Photoshop per se. And in the photography field, any artist worth his salt shoots in RAW format which makes the use of a digital darkroom essential. I’m sure no photographer ever offered raw, undeveloped film to a viewer and said “look at mu terrific image”! It had to be processed in a (wet) darkroom first.
No two of us see colours in the same way, and while the extreme end of this is colour blindness, there are far more subtle gradations. My partner sees green as more blue than I do, he’ll call a colour aqua when to me it is clearly green. No one knows how much individual vision varies as how do you test objectively for it. Even a machine has to be programmed to recognise things in order to set a benchmark, so it comes back to the person doing the programming. There is a free colour test here which tests how subtle your colour vision is and it’s an interesting exercise to do, you get better as you retry.
Factor One is the image type. The identical image will look very different if you line up a screen version, a printed image on paper, one on canvas, and one on with a metallic finish.
Factor Two is colour temperature – both of the image and of the viewing light. Sunlight or warm artificial light will make something look much warmer and the colours more intense than cool, wintry light. Things like the type of paper or material an image is presented on can make vast differences. The hardness of the photographic paper’s grade was one way photographers made their prints differ in the days before digital darkrooms.
Then there are all the factors that affect Image Quality itself – see this Wiki article where there is a good list.
And a few points are solely effective on electronic images. How many people have ordered items online only yo be unpleasantly surprised to open the package to discover the item they purchased is a different colour to the one shown on the screen?
Which brings us to Factor Three, monitor type and quality.
We’ve all been to an electronics shop with rows of televisions or computer monitors, all displaying ‘identical’ images. But as you look down the rows, the colors can be noticeably different, in tone, light/dark and clarity.
Computer monitors will show different colours if hooked up to computers with different video cards.
Screens contain phosphors which cause colours to change as the screen gets older. They also have varying ability to display colours with some showing many more tones. Resolution also affects the color issue because higher resolution means clearer and more accurate images.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to calibrate monitors to display more accurately. All monitors should be calibrated, BUT – remember the eyesight of the person calibrating will affect the result, along with the light of the room where they are doing it, and screens change over time and they need to be re-calibrated on an occasional basis for the best results.
And Factor Four is the artist’s bugbear – image compression. A typical image from a high end digital camera, when processed in a high end program is large, they can easily go 17 to 15 Mb. That’s far too large to go on the web so the file will be saved in a lossy format file such as jpeg, and made smaller both in size and resolution so it can be posted on the internet. Then programs like FaceBook do their own compression on the image, over which the artist has NO control whatsoever, and often, this final compression will make an image look very different indeed to the original.
So please don’t be so quick next time with the “it’s been photoshopped” mantra – have a think about the processes involved and ask the original poster what’s been done.
In the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot on Facebbok and various forums regarding straight out of camera (SOOC) images and their merits as opposed to images that have been adjusted in a digital package (such as Lightroon, Photoshop, etc). The SOOC folk seem to think there are some great merits to not having ‘done anything’ to their images, which means they have, in their not so humble opinions, got it ‘right’ in camera. There are even Facebook groups devoted to SOOC images!
What many of them overlook is the fact that those jpegs they’re posting (they’re always jpegs as otherwise they’ve processed them) HAVE been processed – by the in camera algorithm of the company that makes the camera.
My take on editing treats digital ‘straight out of camera’ (SOOC) images I treat as negatives. When I shot film (and I shot film for around 50 years) I wouldn’t show the negatives to someone and ask them didn’t they think it was a great shot. I’d print it, or get it printed. A process involves a lot of decisions and does involve editing.
So I don’t think the much touted ‘SOOC’ has any great merits. I prefer to shoot raw (I always shoot Raw or Raw + Jpeg) and edit in my digital darkroom. I do like to get it as ‘right’ as I can, so the editing I have to do is minimal, but I have absolutely no problem in adjusting colour balance, saturation, brightness and contrast in my digital darkroom – those are things we did in the wet darkroom, too. Colour balance was achieved by the inserting of filters into the enlarger head, saturation and brightness by the timing of the exposure in the enlarger, and the enlarging lens settings, and contrast the grade of paper chosen, soft to hard. So there is no way a print from a negative is straight out of camera.
Here’s a recent image – the SOOC jpeg and the raw edited to bring it up to a better result. I’ve only done exactly what I would have done in the darkroom – lightened the shadows a bit (done by dodging and burning in the wet darkroom), and adjusting white balance and levels. SOOC is on the right – and it’s certainly a usable image, but the edited version on the left is far better. You can see the settings I used in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) before opening in Photoshop and resizing to ‘print’ standard for the web. As I only managed 2 frames of this bird before he flew off, I didn’t have time for a lot of in camera adjustments. This is the strength of digital, we can save much more marginal images than was possible in film.
I love digital. I embraced it as early as I was able to afford it, and love the freedom it gives me to shoot as many angles and exposure combinations as I desire of a chosen subject. The very fact that I DON’T have to make such critical decisions on the fly and in the field are, to me, digital’s huge strength and advantage. Why limit yourself when it is not necessary?
And in digital you can make these fine adjustments yourself, so the result reflects YOUR taste and vision, not that of a technician in a photo lab somewhere. No matter how good a photo lab, what they duo is filtered through your instructions of what you want to achieve and their interpretation of those instructions. It introduces levels of misunderstanding that don’t happen when you do the work yourself.
In the film days, not may people had access to, or the high level skills to use, the resources of a full colour wet lab. So we were reliant on the skills of this technicians, I know I suffered some disappointments in when what I envisaged came back from the lab, and the results were somewhat short, and often very different. Indeed, some of those images I have had scanned and adjusted in the digital darkroom, and I like my results much better.
So, for me, it’s digital all the way, and I embrace the width and depth of the editing possibilities available. I even like to do montages, although I always state that they are composed using more than one frame, and I call them images, rather than photos. And yes, you could do those in your wet darkroom too, although it took a lot of skills and a painstaking level of fine finagling to get them right. Digital is MUCH easier!
Naturally, not everyone will agree, that’s what makes our photography such an interesting job/hobby/past-time.
Images from my visits to this year’s DARK MOFO Festival. I’ll add to these as I go. The first two are from the first evening of the event, the Entitle ones are from a mid week visit to town, and on the evening of 19 June I met up with friends in town and we had a wander.
The Night ship was also shot on 19 June, prior to the meet up, but I made a bad choice of location, there were far too many lights behind it. Try again today or tomorrow.
The Theme this year is paint the town red, and the Tasman Bridge and some buildings have embraced the theme and gone red.
Pulse/Spectra beam: A powerful light shining straight up from the city beats in time with the pulse of a person touching a special sensor.
“A dark ship sails nightly from Tinderbox to Mona via the city’s harbour. At regular intervals, a powerful pencil-slim searchlight radiates from the vessel to illuminate the adjacent shore. Anchors away; you’ll hear it coming.”
And the Waterfront
Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’
Bastiaan Maris’ Fire Organ installation:
“This massive structure of old steel tubing drones and hums at low frequencies beneath harmonically tuned flame-throwers blasting fire and heat into the night sky.” Dark Mofo handout info.
SO enter the date into your diaries, folk, DARK MOFO is really worth a visit, make your plans for next year NOW. Accommodation books out very fast.
You might like to consider our garden cabin, available at $45 per night, or a little less if you have your own bedding and linen. See the Cabin on Elanore website.
Have you always longed to photograph the aurora? You don’t have to go to the northern hemisphere to do it. This image was taken from Trial bay near Kettering (where the Bruny ferry departs) on 19 March this year (2015).
If you’d like to try your hand, we have our cabin in the garden (also on Facebook) available for $45 per night, and I will guide people to a good spot – we can confer and decide beforehand – and assist with setup etc for $50 per person per session. After the first session, you should be fine to manage exposures and settings for subsequent attempts.
You need to have your own vehicle as I do not have a vehicle to carry passengers.
Of course, you need to bear in mind that you can come to Tasmania for a week or even two, and the auroral gods many decide they are not going to play along. We’ve had some long ‘dry’ spell, but it can fire up anytime. You are also dependent on the vagaries of the weather, if it is overcast there can be a terrific aurora happening, while we gnash our teeth at home in deep frustration. But Tasmania is a beautiful place to photograph during the daylight hours, too, and you will have a lot of wonderful images to take home with you.
Of course, the weather will clear beautifully the day you go home!
You need a camera capable of shooting exposures up to 30 seconds length, has a shutter delay (self-timer) or a remote or cable release, a sturdy tripod, and a wide (preferably 20mm or less) and fast (min f3.5) f stop – f2.8 or f2 is even better.
However, if you are interested, contact me through the cabin email at the website or PM me here.
Woke up nice and early – never a problem – but actually managed to motivate myself out of the house! And I was rewarded by a fine sunrise. Initially went round to Saunderlands Rd to opposite the zinc works hoping for those lovely plumes of smoke/steam I have seen, but the woind was so fierce I didn’t bpother, as there was just one thin little stream.
On the way back stopped where the turnoff is, though, and shot a few looking north to the Bowen Bridge, hoping for nice cloudscapes. Not too bad, more experimentation needed.
Then went on to Granton and stopped opposite the pub near the old railway station, for a very nice cloudscape for sunrise.
I have played a bit for different effects with the colour balance and tint.
All Fuji X-M1 and Samyang 12mm f2, except the panorama wich is Fuji X-T1 and 14-55 lens
My thoughts on my photography and what I'm doing, photographically.