I am counting every little star in this shot for such amazing luck. No one can appreciate just how thankful I am. After eleven years of chasing countless auroras, everything came together during these two panic stricken minutes last Thursday night for what I consider the pinnacle of my panoramic photography work.
Chances were against us this cloudy night, driving New Zealand aurora watchers frantic, looking for any little patch of sky while the aurora proved its weakening before nightfall. Coupled with this, predetermined landscape opportunities rapidly ran through our minds adding to the puzzling strategy for the hunt.
Getting the first shots of last night's Aurora was a bit of a mission and nearly didn't happen.
Firstly, after some enjoyable and relaxing reconnoitring, we choose our spot at Lake Tekapo, with night sky icon: Mt John to the fore and township of to the left beyond..
Crossing our fingers that the Aurora data would not weaken too much before darkness, we waited.
I then became preoccupied by the fact I had left my tripod at home (110kms away).
My wife Marthy yells at me about the huge rays she can see, despite remaining daylight... all while I am still hunting out my little 'spare' tripod. Totally flustered I fumble to set up the camera at an uncomfortable couching distance off the ground.
My first exposure was totally black, as were several more despite several precious minutes spent trying out a range of camera settings, by the extreme. Puzzling!!!
It's getting darker now and I can't find either of my torches - also left at home! Marthy digs hers from her handbag and I shine it on my lens and find my nice shining black lens cap still sitting nicely in position.
Incredibly, as camera issues threatened to shut down the mission, the Aurora not only hung on that fraction longer for me, but pumped up one last minute of massive dying power, just as my camera panned onto that part of the sky. Impeccable timing!!! No second chances!!! This was the best I had seen since 2005.
I take no credit for this, the perfect composition or stunning range of colour. This is what it was. True reality! Untouched by my hand! Mother Nature had finally obliged.
Also, this result was not my own either. For all these years Marthy has been supporting me in many ways. This night she drove me to Tekapo so I could totally concentrate on the satellite data, maps, weather, and liaise with all my Aurora FB friends to optimise every little scrap of information. Big thanks go toStephen Voss, for his knowledge and encouragement of such a great network of contributors, especially Frank Rosser for his endless, tireless analysis of the sun's activity and advice.
Now… roll on the next goal: Corona!!!