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What White Balance for Aurora photos?

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    What White Balance for Aurora photos?

    With so many aurora pictures on various media and the incredible variety of the appearance of the Aurora I'm wondering what is the "right" way, if there is such a thing, to photo it.

    I read somewhere that suggested ideal white balance for night photographs is in the range 3200K to maybe 4200K (if I remember correctly)

    I tend not to bother changing white balance and have mine set to 5500K and as I shoot raw I can tweak it in Lightroom.

    So I had a little play with one of my images to create the closest to what I actually saw by eye, my standard picture at 5500K ( very little was changed in LR, a small exposure adjust and some clarity, sharpening and noise reduction and a medium contrast, Taken at 8 secs at F4 and 640ISO) and one at 3500K.

    First the one I put up elsewhere:5500K

    Aurora 10 5 24-5723 by M Plowman, on Flickr

    Next at 3500K

    Aurora 10 5 24 WB3500-5723 by M Plowman, on Flickr

    Finally the nearest to what I could eyeball - much clearer than I recall.

    Aurora 10 5 24 Eyeball-5723 by M Plowman, on Flickr

    Which way would go?

    Edit: just noticed I said 1/8th sec when I meant 8 seconds - now corrected.
    Last edited by Skyelines; 12-05-2024, 22:54. Reason: ​​​​​​​

    I was advised to use a white balance of 3500K for the most natural effect. Any less makes the Aurora too blue and any more makes the aurora too yellow.


      I was asked this question on Friday by someone who was going out on Dartmoor to photograph them. I told him 3200, he came back with some stunning shots.
      Who will ever know if the colour on the picture is a true capture of what he saw , I don't know, he's more than pleased with them.
      I've seen the Northern Lights in Norway, I'm sure some of the pictures that have been floating around - not on here, but in the press etc. have been highly saturated --- just my opinion.

      Equipment - According to the wife more than a Camera Shop got



        A presenter at the local camera club, astro photography, said the white balance should be set to tungsten. I have used this for a while and it does result in a better sky colour.


          Sadly this phenomena seems attract all sorts of nonsense, another thing often done is when the lights are filmed in motion they feel the need to speed it up to make it look more "amazing". You can which are faked as the stars are whizzing across the sky
          Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way