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Does anyone have any helpful hints for getting good photos of such night things as the Northern Lights, the moon, etc, with a point and shoot? I have a Canon S3IS right now, it has some manual settings and exposure compensation, etc.... I reallllly want to not just get photos of the Northern Lights when I'm in Alaska this season, but the BEST photos I can! Are there combos of settings that do a better job than others? Helpful on-the-fly tips? Should I use flash or not?
I know that being digital I can experiment...I'd simply like to get some new ideas to try to shorten the experimenting process and lower my odds of getting a bunch of blurry photos. Night photography is a challenge, and with a nonSLR that can't do long exposures, it's even more so. So, any help and hints y'all could share would ROCK! Thanks!

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Hmmmm....That's very tricky without an (D)SLR. However, if you use a tripod, that will help. I don't think that flash will help at all. I would play with the exposure times and set your ISO to the highest your camera will allow - most likely 400, but it may have 800. Good luck!
Mine does have 800... the Canon SX10 IS that I've ordered has up to 1600. (and 3200 in some cases). Hopefully that'll make the difference.... Someday I'd like a top-notch DSLR. And the necessary laptop-memory and printer to go with.
True. The more the pixels, the larger the file. And the thing is that most people don't need all that capability, especially if they're just going to share them on-line. How big a print does one really need?!
True that! The new Canon I've ordered has 10 mp....I'd rather it had only 6 like I've got now but this model has a 20x optical zoom, wide-angle, plus the extra ISO. I don't need 10 mp myself. I'll probably shoot in lower-MP settings.
I have a Canon SX10 also. Love the zoom on it and the fact I don't have to carry a whole bag of stuff with it. I also shoot in the M1 or M2 setting unless I know it is a shot I might want to blow up for display. Just got an expanded manual for it and I'm browsing throught it this winter, learning how to use all the options.
I bought myself a Nikon D700, which is FANTASTIC for night shooting, it's been a pain trying to get the white balance set right. I'm still learning...what a STEEP learning curve...but, I did shoot the Torchlight parade pic I've posted here with it, so, I'm making progress, just slower than I'd hoped. I do NOT like it for most daylight shooting. I cannot seem to use my usual tricks to get good saturation. Unless it's a nice sunny day. But even then... oh well. I'm going to be an advanced amateur forever, I guess. My fave camera for on-the-fly, FAST shooting is the Canon Powershot SX IS series... I need to upgrade to the 10 or 12 MP one, with the wide angle and the 20 or 24x optical zoom. I'd use that for 90 per cent of my shooting, and use my costly Nikon only for night and really low-light shots. It's pretty much been useless for me as far as trying to get any action shots. I will never be fast enough to make more than an exposure-comp/ISO combo adjustment while trying to shoot.... forget adjusting aperture and shutter too. Ok, enough venting from me :) LOL! Enjoy your Canon....
Well, you want a way way slow shutter speed. Does your camera have a bulb setting? Or what is the longest time it can be set on? Because sometimes, it can take hours to get the right exposure. And I agree with Kari on the not using the flash, and the ISO. Oh, and definitely use a tripod! I personally like some random photos where I didn't use a tripod, but that's only because I was drunk at the time. haha. They are definitely abstracts, but I love the lights in them. I uploaded one onto here.
oops here it is.
Attachments:
Interesting effect! :) Very cool.
I don't have the option on my camera of doing long time exposures, unfortunately. Will have to look and see how slow a shutter speed I *am* able to get...
As for the tripod, IF I get another camera where I can do the long time exposures, then definitely I'd use it. I spent good money on it and it's a top-notch Bogen with a quick-release plate and the Clutch-and-move grip (so no nasty knobs to try and remember which one turns the tripod head which way lol). Guess for now I'll just have to go 800 ISO and etc to try and improve things.

:)
My Nikon camera manual claims I have a long-time-exposure setting on the camera, but I followed the instructions to get to it and it wasn't there. It does get great night and low-light shots generally... still learning... and I never use the flash.
Hahah. I was reading through one of the magazines i bought, and one was actually on how to shoot the Northern Lights. They said about 30 seconds for the exposure time, because if you do it longer, you loose the patterns the lights make. If you shoot anything longer than a 60th of a sec, you cant really hand hold the camera. I think its very odd that right after reading this, I found it in a photography magazine. lol. You are heading up to the mt Mckinley lodge, right? If you are up there, I am bringing my tripod, and i would be more than happy to share it. In fact, I am hoping that someone will be able to plan a photography trip with me.... seeing as it is my first time to be up there. lol

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