Photography Tips: Capturing the Northern Lights

By Kate

Capturing the perfect snapshot of the Northern Lights can often feel like trying to bottle pure magic; it’s elusive, unpredictable and completely awe-inspiring. The truth is, we’ve stood beneath that very same arctic sky, utterly mesmerised by an ethereal display of green and violet (did you know: it’s actually oxygen molecules meeting solar particles that create this stunning spectacle).

Our blog post aims to be your trusty guide through this enchanting journey, offering easy-to-follow advice that will elevate your aurora photography skills. So, are you ready for an adventure? Let’s set off together on a quest to seize those celestial rainbows!

Key Takeaways

  • To take good photos of the Northern Lights, choose a camera with manual settings.
  • Use tools like tripods and intervalometers for clear, steady shots.
  • Dark places away from city lights are best for seeing the lights.
  • Dress warmly to stay still and steady when taking photos in cold weather.
  • Try smart tricks like setting your focus to infinity and using a wide aperture.
  • Editing software can make your Northern Lights pictures even better.
  • Joining a photo tour lets you learn from experts about taking cool shots of the magical light show.

Preparing for Your Northern Lights Photography Shoot

Photography Tips Capturing the Northern Lights

To prepare for your Northern Lights photography adventure, you’ll first need to select the right camera and lens – ideally a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens. Investing in sturdy equipment like tripods and intervalometers is critical, as they’ll ensure stability during long exposures.

It’s also important to plan your shoot on nights with clear skies that promise higher Auroral activity; remember, darker locations away from city lights offer best visibility of the spectacle.

Choosing the right camera and lens

To capture the Northern Lights, we need the right camera and lens. We recommend a camera with manual settings. It lets us control our snaps better. The best lens is one with an infinity symbol (∞).

This allows for adjusting focus when needed. Different camera brands like Canon or Nikon might have different settings. So, it’s wise to know how your brand works in various conditions.

Nowadays, even smartphones can do wonders! There are tips that help us use them for this purpose too! So let’s get snapping!

Investing in a tripod and intervalometer

tripod is a must for us. It gives our camera the steady support it needs. Sharp and clear pictures of the Northern Lights are then possible. We choose a sturdy one that won’t move or slip to get the best shots.

An intervalometer is another must-have tool for us. This remote control keeps movement blur out of our photos by avoiding touch on the camera. This way, we can capture great time-lapse shots as well in our night sky photography adventures! We also find that planning and being patient always pays off when shooting at night.

Planning for dark and clear skies

We must pay attention to the sky for good Northern Lights photos. Find a spot away from city lights. This cuts out light pollution and helps us see the lights better. The weather is also important.

We need dark, clear skies, so check the forecast first. Clouds can hide the Northern Lights! Let’s stay ready and seize that perfect moment under clear skies for our amazing Aurora photography experience.

Checking aurora activity

We need to look at the aurora forecast before we go out. This tells us how active the Northern Lights will be. Active lights make better photos. We can find forecasts online or on apps for phones.

They give a lot of data like moon phase and weather forecast too. These help us pick the best time and place for our shoot. Not all nights are good for this kind of photography, so it’s wise not to miss when the lights are bright!

Camera Setup and Settings

Camera Setup and Settings

To capture the mesmerising spectacle of the Northern Lights, your camera’s manual mode is key; we’ll guide you on mastering focus techniques, exposure settings, choosing the right ISO, and correctly setting white balance.

Dive in to discover more!

Using manual mode

We need to use manual mode when capturing the Northern Lights. This setting gives us more control over our camera. We can adjust different parts like ISO, exposure time, and shutter speed.

Getting these settings just right helps us get the best shots of this beautiful light show.

Not all cameras have a manual mode but there are ways around this! If we only have a smartphone, we can still take great photos. Many smartphone cameras now have manual modes built in.

If yours doesn’t, don’t worry! There are plenty of camera apps out there that offer this feature too.

Focusing techniques

We must talk about focusing when we set up our cameras to photograph the Northern Lights. A good way is to set your focus to infinity. This helps us capture small details far away in the sky.

It’s a key part of astrophotography! But, be careful! The right focus setting might be different on Canon and Nikon cameras. We suggest using manual settings for best results with these stunning lights.

Even if you use your smartphone, there are ways to get good shots!

Adjusting settings for exposure

We must set our camera just right to catch the Northern Lights. First, switch to manual mode. This lets us handle all changes. We tweak aperture, ISO, and shutter speed for the best shot.

Our goal is a wide aperture like f/2.8; this takes in as much light as possible. Next, we set our exposure time between 10 and 25 seconds to avoid star trails in our photo. Lastly, adjust your focus setting to infinity for sharp results.

Selecting the right ISO

We need to choose the right ISO for great Northern Lights photos. The optimal ISO selection can change a lot based on how bright the lights are. Start with an ISO of around 1600. If it is very dark, you may need to go up to 3200 or even 6400.

But keep in mind that high ISO can make your pictures grainy. We use manual settings so we have full control over this feature. It helps us achieve correct exposure with ISO and gives better results than auto mode ever could! Practice makes perfect in mastering these manual settings, especially when dealing with something as magical as the Northern Lights!

Setting the white balance

White balance is a big part of taking good pictures. It can affect the colours in your photos. For Northern Lights photography, we suggest setting it to “daylight” or a Kelvin value between 3000-5000.

This helps get the real colours and tones in your shots.

You can change the white balance on cameras that have manual settings. You can try different Kelvin values to see what works best for you. Playing with these settings is a fun way to make unique photos! After you take your photos, use editing software if you want to adjust them more or add extra colour.

Tips for Capturing the Northern Lights

To capture the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, finding a location devoid of light pollution is crucial. Dress warmly to endure frigid temperatures and ensure your camera remains steady for clear, crisp images.

Using manual settings allows you full control over your shots while creative composition can add an interesting twist. Learn more about these handy tips to transform your Northern Lights photography into awe-inspiring masterpieces.

Finding a dark location

We must find a spot where the sky is very dark. Too much light can hide the Northern Lights. This is called light pollution. Areas away from city lights are best. Here, we can see the aurora borealis clearly.

We need to watch out for clouds too. A cloudless sky lets us see all of the colours and beauty of the lights. Even if we use smartphone cameras, a dark location helps get clear shots.

Dressing warmly

Let’s talk about staying warm. Dressing warmly is a must for our Northern Lights photo shoot. The cold weather can make your body shiver and mess up your shot! To stay still and steady, layer insulated clothing with thermal underwear.

These will help us bear the chill without shaking too much. Pair them with winter boots and wool socks to keep our feet nice and warm. A fleece jacket works well against the wind while a strong hat keeps our heads cosy.

Gloves are also crucial as we’d need to use our hands often with the camera gear. Windproof and waterproof outerwear shields us from harsh weather conditions, keeping us dry so we can focus on getting that perfect shot of the Northern Lights.

Hand warmers might come handy too when temperatures drop drastically or if any of us get unusually cold easily than others! Finally, thermal blankets could provide an extra layer of warmth during long nights under Arctic skies awaiting for those magical lights to appear.

Keeping the camera steady

We know that keeping the camera steady is key to taking great pictures of the Northern Lights. A shaky camera can make your photos blurry. To prevent this, use a tripod. It holds your camera still during long exposure times.

If you don’t want to touch your camera and risk moving it, try using a cable release or wireless remote.

Shooting in low light needs more power from your battery. The cold Arctic weather can drain batteries fast too. So we must keep our batteries warm! Put them inside your clothes near your body when not in use.

This way, they stay warm and last longer for night photography.

Using manual settings

We need to use manual settings on our camera for the best Northern Lights shots. Auto mode won’t work well in the dark. With manual control, we set our focus to infinity. This makes sure we get sharp pictures of distant objects like stars and auroras.

Then, we pick a wide aperture to let in lots of light. Different shutter speeds are also important because they change how bright or dim our photos will be based on how fast the lights move across the sky.

Using these recommended settings helps us capture great Aurora photography just like pros!

Composing your shots creatively

Let’s be bold and creative with our shots of the Northern Lights. To do this, we must master manual mode on our cameras. Manual control lets us tweak settings that fit the shot we want to take.

Put your camera on a tripod so it stays still. Adjust the focus to set it at the ‘infinity’ symbol for sharp images. Look for fresh ways to frame the dancing lights in your photos.

Try different angles or include interesting objects in your scene.

Keep an eye out for tips from expert photographers too! They often share great ideas about how they capture stunning shots of Northern Lights in places like Iceland.

Play around with camera settings until you get them right. Use an aperture setting of f/2.8, ISO between 3200-8000, and a shutter speed of 1-12 seconds as a starting point. As lighting changes, keep adjusting these levels for best results.

Enhancing Your Northern Lights Photos

Discover how the magic of photo editing software can elevate your Northern Lights images, learn about the advantages of joining a photo tour and explore how weather conditions and aurora activity contribute to creating stunning shots.

Ready to transform your Northern Lights photos from great to truly spectacular? Dive in with us!

Using photo editing software

We can all take better pictures with the help of photo editing software. Some tools may seem hard to use, but they make our Northern Lights photos look great. With Lightroom, we can change parts we don’t like and improve colours.

Try using the adjustment tool in your software when you are making effects soft or strong. Even though it’s a bit hard at first, with time, enhancing photos becomes easy and fun!

Joining a photo tour

We can make our Northern Lights photos even better by joining a photo tour. It’s a great chance to learn from experts who know all about catching the lights at their best. They tell us what we need to do and show us how it’s done.

On these tours, we get useful tips and guidance which help in enhancing our photos. Imagine getting sharp images of the Northern Lights! That’s exactly what happens on a photography tour focused on these amazing sights.

This is one adventure we wouldn’t want to miss!

Taking advantage of weather conditions

We can make the most out of weather conditions to get great snapshots. Clear skies help us see the Northern Lights well. We should stay away from towns and other areas where there are a lot of lights.

These light sources cause light pollution. They make it hard for us to see the Northern Lights clearly. Windy nights can shake our cameras, so we wait for calm nights to keep our shots steady.

It’s also fun to look for spots with trees or hills in front of us. These objects add an exciting touch to our photos!

Considering aurora activity

We must think about aurora activity in enhancing our Northern Lights photos. Finding the aurora can be hard because of its quick moves and low light. We have to avoid places with a lot of lights like towns to see them well.

The right camera setup and lens choice are key here too. It’s best not to leave the shutter open for more than 20 seconds at a time when shooting the aurora. We need to learn how best to track these amazing lights if we want great shots of them.


Now you know how to take great photos of the Northern Lights. Make sure your camera is ready and you have the right gear. Use these tips on your next trip to see this amazing light show!

When is the best time to photograph the Northern Lights?

The best time to photograph the Northern Lights is during winter nights with clear skies and no moonlight.

What equipment do I need to capture the Northern Lights?

You will need a camera that can adjust ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings along with a stable tripod for capturing good photos of the Northern Lights.

How should I set my camera to capture the Northern Lights?

To capture great images of the Northern Lights, use manual mode on your camera; set high ISO, wide aperture (low f-stop), and long exposure times.

Is it hard to photograph the Northern Lights?

Photographing the northern lights can be tricky due its unpredictable nature but with patience and right techniques it becomes less challenging.

Can I take photographs of The Northern Light using my smartphone?

Yes, you can use your smartphone for taking pictures of The Northern Lights but remember – cameras give better results because they have advanced setting controls.

About the author

Hello there, fellow travellers! I'm Kate, one half of the Chandler's Travel duo, and my love for travel is matched only by my love for sharing it with others. For me, every journey is an opportunity to learn something new, be it a local tradition, a tasty dish, or simply a new way to see the world.

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