How to capture the Aurora Borealis in Revelstoke

Photographer William Eaton shares his tips for capturing the best Aurora photos in the region

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For extra light flare, throw in headlamps or other light sources. Here, Jessa Burke, Katlyn Davies and Peter Digby ride under the glowing sky on Boulder Mountain. Photo: Bill Eaton

Revelstoke photographer William Eaton is well known for capturing spectacular images of the Aurora Borealis.

Known sometimes as the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis paints the sky with an almost eerie spectacle of reds, yellows, greens, blues, and violets. Aurora Borealis is caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere. Translation: they make the skies look really pretty.

Want to see the auroras in Revelstoke? Here are some of Eaton’s tips:

The view from the Big Eddy Boulders allows you to capture Mount Revelstoke and Mount Mackenzie in the background. Photo: Bill Eaton

-Head out of town. Eaton said the lights from the city can make it difficult to see the aurora.

-Get out to a place with a northern view. Eaton’s top picks for places to go include the 5 Mile Boat Launch on Highway 23 North past Revelstoke Dam, Boulder Mountain, and Sale Mountain.

-Pick a night where there are no clouds hovering above the city. Like the lights, this makes it more difficult to see the auroras.

-Look around. Depending on the level of activity it is possible to see auroras anywhere in the sky. More recently, it has been possible to see the auroras right in Revelstoke. Eaton explained that this could be because he has heard that once every 10 years the sun flares up, making it easier to see the auroras.

One of the easiest, best and most accessible views of the Aurora Borealis in the Revelstoke area is from 5 Mile boat launch on Highway 23 North. Photo: Bill Eaton

-Be patient. Eaton once waited six hours to see Aurora Borealis. Calgary photographer Richard Gottardo spent three months during the winter of 2013 camped in a tent in the mountains above Revelstoke waiting for the perfect moment to view and photograph Aurora Borealis.

“Lots of times I’ve waited overnight and I haven’t seen anything,” said Eaton.

If you’re planning to take photographs of the auroras, Eaton offered the following tips:

-Set your camera up in the right direction and find what’s working for you. Take some practice photos to figure out what works best for you.

-Use a tripod.

-The settings on your camera will vary depending on how you want your photos to turn out.

-Use a longer exposure time. The Canadian Space Agency recommends setting your exposure length to a minimum of 10 seconds. Eaton said he prefers using an exposure time of less than 30 seconds.

-Use a high ISO and low aperture setting.

-Conditions can change quickly so be prepared to change your camera settings.

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Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com