Tie-dyed Sky

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


This image is from the extraordinary aurora display this past May and was made mere minutes before midnight on May 10th. I’ve only photographed the aurora a handful of times in my life but I’m sure that what I witnessed on this night is something I will never forget. I was ecstatic and in awe of what was happening in the sky above and I was amazed that there was something going on in the sky no matter which direction you looked.

Another thing that I found incredible was that there was a spot in the sky that the aurora appeared to emanate from and that this spot stayed in the same part of the sky for a very long time – maybe even over an hour. I found this strange and unusual because typically from what I’ve witnessed the aurora is always moving and never in the exact same spot in the sky. This is my image of that “spot”.

Specific Feedback

Honestly, any and all feedback (good or bad) is welcome and appreciated.

Technical Details

This image was shot with the Canon 5Dmk4 and an all manual Rokinon 20mm f/1.8 lens stopped down to f/2.8 and an exposure time of 1 second (ISO-1600).

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Just spectacular! I’'m very envious - I’ve never seen the aurora. In May, we drove hours inland (from coastal oregon) to a place where the liklihood was high - but found nothing and were very bummed out.
Exceptional colors, framed by the trees.
Lots of little white specks in the large image, that I thought were on my computer screen…

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This is awesome, Tom, and a very interesting phenomenon. I don’t recall ever seeing an image of this kind of behavior in an aurora. When I first looked at it, I thought it was some kind of lens zoom image, which would be cool in itself, but to have it be just the way it was is even cooler.

I took the liberty of taking a screen shot of your image and doing a Google image search and there were lots of images that were showing the same phenomenon, but no explanation. I wonder if that’s “magnetic north” at the apex?

Tom, you’ve caught some amazing color here. The “from a spot” aspect works very well with the silhouetted trees. The stars are a nice extra. I photographed the same thing coming from a location directly overhead in Southern Montana, so it’s unlikely to be related to the earth’s poles.

Thank you @SandyR-B , @Dennis_Plank and @Mark_Seaver for your feedback. This spot was directly overhead, pretty close to the handle of the Big Dipper (about 40 to 50 degrees from the north star) so I don’t think it was at the magnetic north… though I could be wrong in my math but I find it really fascinating that so many people from all over were able to see this phenomenon. That’s so cool!


I love your composition first and foremost. You placed the radiant perfectly and the inclusion of the trees really accentuates the radiating nature of the aurora. Vibrant colors is what catches the eye, but the composition catches the imagination. Great work and congratulations on seeing the aurora with your naked eye.

Congrats on a fine EP!

A little late for the show but caught this on replay :smile: This is quite spectacular and, as you say, unusual. I have only seen the Aurora a few times but always as a shimmering curtain of green. I have dreamed of a viewing such as this and maybe I’ll have my dream come true some day. In the meantime I have your photograph as an inspiration. Are the colours depicted here what you actually saw or more what the camera picked up?
The photograph is beautifully composed and I congratulate you on keeping your cool and getting the picture in the face of such an incredible phenomenon.

Thank you @Youssef_Ismail , @SandyR-B and @Kerry_Gordon !

Kerry, what I saw with my eyes was not as vibrant as this but I was able to make out the colours. At times the display in the sky was so bright that it actually got brighter in the forest - kind of like on nights when there’s a full moon.

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I sure thought I had replied to this but obviously not!! (Was too busy getting ready for a trip.) I love the composition with the trees leaning in toward the center of the crazy and wild lightshow. You did an excellent job finding the right spot, with the balance of fewer, bigger trees on the right and more but smaller trees on the left. The colors are awesome and the title perfect!!

What a great shot, Tom. The colors blast out like fireworks. I might lower the saturation a touch, though. Wonderful!