Brian Drourr is a man who appreciates a challenge. Not satisfied with simple scenery, he wants to capture the colors of the Aurora Borealis in the night sky. The first challenge is to be ready when it appears.
"We have a matter of hours from when a event on the sun happens to when we're seeing the effects here on earth so the best we can do is guess at where we might be able to see it and when," Drourr said.
The photos he creates are part science, part art, and as he says "part addiction." If you do find an display of northern lights, you don't need fancy camera equipment to shoot it.
"Night sky photography, or any photography is about capturing light. So you want to set your aperture, the opening of your camera as wide as it will go. You want to set your exposure time for about 30 seconds which is as long as it will go," Drourr said.
But even his spectacular shots of the northern lights wasn't enough for him. Brian wanted to do more. What he did, was create a photo that not only showcased northern lights in the sky, but added his own personal touch.
His technique is fairly low tech. Drourr's tools are an old wire whisk, a cable from a dog run, some steel wool and a nine volt battery to ignite the steel wool. Drourr twirls the cable and sparks fly, creating the photograph that was more than he imagined. "I figured what a great opportunity. I'm all alone at the Sandbar on a beautiful night with the aurora. Let's create my own beautiful light on the earth, as I'm watching the beautiful lights dance up in the sky," he said.
It is a real photograph. It's not two images combined. It's difficult for the camera to translate some of these night time colors in the sky and he does enhance the color during the editing process to bring it back to what he sees with his eyes.
"So I bring it up to the level that the camera was seeing it at the time I shot the camera," Drourr explained. "Normally when I shoot steel wool, I'm exposing for the steel wool. In this case, I was really trying to expose for the northern lights. They were the focus and I wanted the steel wool in the background, so to be about to get both of them as well as I did in the same image without doing a composite of two different exposures."
Sharon Meyer: So what was your reaction when you saw those pictures?"
Brian Drourr: Woo Hoo! I knew it was going to be something special, something different... To date, those are some of my most viewed images that I've posted online for people to see and they've been shared all over the world."
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