Lake Superior Aurora over the pancakes

Image Description

On February 26th there was a G3 aurora storm. There were no clouds and it hit early. This is somewhat of a trifecta here in Michigan. I was able to get out to the Lake to capture it. That clear horizon all the way north to Canada really allows for some spectacular aurora viewing. Interestingly this shot is almost straight west which is unusual unless there is a very large storm. Winter is my favorite time to photograph and pancake ice is one of the unique winter features of the big lake that i like to capture. So to capture them with the aurora was a special treat.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I am curious how the Denoise image looks to people. Is it too smooth? I am still trying to figure out how to work with it best. I feel like noise is my archnemesis but i also dont like how hypersmooth photos can get with too much Lightroom denoise. I was happy with my composition here. I like how the pancakes lead back to the back of the frame. I’ll post my RAW photo in the comments so you can see what i edited from. Thanks!

Technical Details

Shot on Sony a7ii. I recently got the 20mm f1.7 prime lens that i used for this. Was actually able to take this as a 0.5sec exposure. The ice was really moving around in the ‘surf’ so this slowed it down quite a bit. I processed the photo in Lightroom and with Topaz denoise.

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_DSC6249.ARW (23.9 MB)

Amazing that the aurora is visible in the lower 48. Very nice transition from the greens to reds. I never heard of pancake ice before, what an interesting phenomenon. I see some blur in some of the “pancakes,” especially on the left side. Is that due to them moving and the .5 sec exposure? As far as the noise treatment, it looks pretty good to me. I see some grain, but to my taste that works for night images, and better than too much denoise that looks artificial.

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This is a nice long exposure shot of the lights, especially since you got good details of the pancake ice and realistic colors on the snow. Something you might want to try is a crop off the bottom to just above the snow in the bottom right corner. It would make a nice panorama plus it would eliminate most of the out of focus pancakes and the distracting chunk of snow. I think you would still have enough of the pancakes in the scene to keep them as a secondary focal point. Nicely done, Cameron :+1:

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Thanks for the comments Dean. The blue in the pancakes is from motion. The lake was pretty choppy that evening. I took some longer exposure photos where they aren’t really discernible at all given the motion.

Thank you Gary! Thanks for having a look. I have a number of variations of this shot including some with no foreground ice chunk. Trying to decide which one is the best composition.