• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 49s

‘Chasing the Lights’ Part 2: Fairbanks photographer specializes in capturing aurora

By Lauren Maxwell 9:50 PM February 24, 2016
FAIRBANKS –

Have you ever seen photos of the Northern Lights and wondered if you could take shots like that yourself? Shooting the lights can be tricky, but having someone who knows the ropes can help. Someone like Fairbanks photographer Sean Kurdziolek, who’s made the lights his business.

“A lot of people call it ‘chasing,’” Kurdziolek said. “And there’s really nothing wrong with calling it chasing. But I prefer to call it hunting. You don’t always have to chase it. A lot of times if you stay where you’re at, it will come to you.”

Kurdziolek became a photographer so he could learn how to shoot the aurora, but said his love of the lights came first. Now he does outdoor portrait photography under the lights and leads workshops to help others photograph the aurora successfully.

Kurdziolek said most modern cameras can photograph the lights if they have a manual setting and if the person knows how to use it. He said beginners often have trouble with focusing in the dark. He recommends stepping back about 50 feet from an illuminated object like a license plate and zooming in.

“What we are doing is focusing in to infinity, which is basically the furthest out you can shoot to,” he explained.

Other settings depend on what the lights are doing. If they are moving fast, Kurdziolek said a faster shutter speed is needed to capture detail. But if the lights are moving more slowly, a slower shutter speed is called for.

“A big part of learning how to shoot the aurora is understanding that exposure, and learning how the different settings affect your images,” Kurdziolek said.

A tripod is a must, and a remote shutter release or timer is also helpful to keep the camera as steady as possible during long exposures. Kurdziolek said people should be prepared to change the settings on their camera as the lights change during the course of the evening. Trial and error and lots of practice can lead to some beautiful shots.

To learn more about Sean Kurdziolek’s photography check out: www.seankurdz.com

Latest Stories

  • Sports

    Native Youth Olympics highlight culture, camaraderie for competitors

    by Heather Hintze on Apr 27, 20:21

    For athletes at the 2017 Native Youth Olympics (NYO), the games are all about culture and community. “My favorite part about NYO is the camaraderie between everyone,” said Allie Ivanoff, a sophomore in Unalakleet. “You can go up to a person and they’ll coach you if you need it. Everything is about sportsmanship in this […]

  • Politics

    Wasilla representative casts lone no vote on bill honoring Alaska’s Hmong veterans

    by Liz Raines on Apr 27, 20:07

    A state lawmaker known for going against the grain on votes with racial undercurrents sparked controversy Thursday. Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) was the lone vote against a bill in the Alaska House to honor Hmong veterans who supported the United States in the Vietnam War. Eastman also voted against a bill honoring black soldiers earlier […]

  • Politics

    Eastman calls for reprimand after LeDoux blocks committee debate

    by Liz Raines on Apr 27, 19:38

    There are more signs of friction in Juneau this week. The latest example came between two fellow Republicans in the House, when a seemingly non-controversial committee meeting became anything but. It ended with one lawmaker calling for a reprimand of the House Rules Committee chair, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage). Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) is calling […]

  • News

    State fire investigator takes stand on Day 5 of Sockeye Fire trial

    by Shannon Ballard on Apr 27, 19:15

    Memories of the 2015 Sockeye Fire were reignited Thursday, five days into the state’s case against the Anchorage couple accused of starting the destructive blaze — Greg Imig and Amy DeWitt. In recorded interviews, Imig repeatedly told fire investigators there was no way the more than 7,000 acre wildfire could have started on his property, but state […]

  • News

    Trump to sign order aimed at expanding offshore drilling

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 17:11

    President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Friday that could lead to the future expansion of drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The order will direct his interior secretary to review a plan that dictates which locations are open to offshore drilling. It’s Trump’s latest effort to dismantle his predecessor’s environmental legacy and […]

  • On-Air

    Reality check w/ John Tracy: Grading Trump’s first 100 days in office

    by John Tracy on Apr 27, 16:57

    The press is fixated this week on grading Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. The grade depends on exactly what you’re grading the president on. First, by objective standards, the president has signed 28 bills into law — far more than his two predecessors, and more than Bill Clinton. He’s also signed more executive […]

  • Anchorage police make 2 DUI arrests at same location

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Apr 27, 16:35

    Police arrested two separate motorists on DUI charges at an Anchorage gas station early Sunday morning. The first driver, 33-year-old Duane Nash, was pulled over for speeding on Minnesota Drive shortly before 4 a.m., according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department. After he pulled into a gas station parking lot on Spenard Road, police noticed […]

  • News

    Latest: Tillerson says China asked North Korea to stop nuke tests

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 16:06

    The Latest on tensions on the Korean Peninsula (all times local): 6:35 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says China has asked North Korea to conduct no further nuclear tests. Tillerson says China also told the U.S. that it had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be […]