What is the correct white balance for Aurora photography?
Like almost all answers to questions about photography it starts with "It depends."
First of all there is hardly any such thing as "correct white balance" in any photograph. It is an esthetic choice. What do you want to communicate? What kind of mood do you want? and, what feels right to you? Two photographers may very well interpret the same situation and scene differently. To learn more about white balance visit this article on how to get it right.
2 things I go for
1 - I want the photograph to look close to what I saw in the nature.
2 - I want the photograph to feel as how I felt it. In the winter that mostly means "cold."
The night it got complicated
Saturday March 7, things got more complicated than usual.
My normal standards are 4000 Kelvin in moonlight, and 3200 Kelvin on nights without moonlight. Or tungsten/incandescent setting for no moon, and fluorescent setting for moonlight.
Now that we have reached March the days are much longer than January and February. That means that in the beginning of the night there is still a lot of daylight. The sun sat at 17:08 that night. But, here in the north the sun sets at such an angle that it takes a long time from it sets until it gets really dark. Astro twilight lasted until 20:37 that night. So when we got out of the studio at 19:00 it was still twilight. There was also another type of light: Northern Light. The photo below is shot from the field across the road from the studio on Håkøya.
The white balance settings are very different from twilight to night. The twilight is also called "The blue hour."
|Aurora showing up early at night, late in the season. Photo taken at 19:05.|