Booked, or close to booking your winter getaway to see the Northern Lights? Here’s a guide on how to make sure you capture the stunning Aurora Borealis.
The first thing to be aware of is where to see the Northern Lights. The best countries are Norway, Iceland and Finland as they offer a higher chance of seeing the lights than anywhere else in the world. The season changes slightly depending on location but around October – March is the best time period to visit. However, would strongly recommend a visit between December – March as the arctic landscape will be covered in snow during this period…
Now that you know where, you need to know how. This consists of three factors: darkness, clear sky and high aurora activity. If the sky is dark and clear with minimal to no clouds, you have a much higher chance of seeing Northern Lights. Aurora activity is measured on a scale of 0 to 9 (9 being the highest). The Aurora can still be seen on low scales of 2-3 to the naked eye, but sometimes your camera can capture the aurora without you even seeing it in front of you. This is why it is crucial to understand how to capture the Northern Lights.
In terms of equipment you’ll need a camera, preferably with a manual mode. We strongly suggest a full-frame DSLR which should be accompanied with a sturdy tripod and ideally a wide angle lens with a fast aperture. (f2.8 or max. f4). Spare batteries and memory cards are strongly recommended as the Northern Lights can be unpredictable in its appearance.
Below, we have a quick step-by-step guide on how to set your camera up to capture the beautiful Aurora!
STEP 1: SET UP YOUR CAMERA FOCUS TO INFINITY
This makes your camera as sharp as possible and ideally you should do this during the day time. Simply select manual mode on the lens, focus to infinity and adjust it to mark your lens at the right place with tape or a marker. This way, once you set up at night you’ll know where to set up your lens. Don’t worry, if you can’t do this in the day time you can focus your camera on something bright instead.
STEP 2: METERING MODE
If you have a Canon we would recommend Evaluative Metering. For Nikon we would recommend Matrix metering.
STEP 3: WIDE APERTURE
Ensure that your camera is set on Manual Mode and that the aperture is as wide as possible depending on your lens.
STEP 4: EXPOSURE TIME
This would depend on the Aurora, if it moves slowly we suggest trying a 12-20 second exposure.
If auroras are moving fast we would say that 5-10 seconds may be more than enough. However, for very vague auroras you may even need 20-25 seconds.
STEP 5: ISO VALUE
This would depend on the brightness of the Aurora. It is important to remember that the higher the ISO, the more grain you may have in your picture. We would recommend shooting at ISO 800 if the Auroras are very bright. Although, you may need to increase ISO to 1,600-3,200 or even more if the conditions are too dark.
STEP 6: WHITE BALANCE SETTINGS
Automatic white balance mode would be the more beginner friendly approach as you’re more likely not going to be shooting on RAW. If automatic isn’t doing it for you, we would suggest setting your white balance to custom and choosing kelvin values of 2,800-4,000.
By following these steps, you’ll have all the knowledge you’ll need in order to capture stunning pictures of the Northern Lights. The only thing you’ll need now is good luck hunting them!
Still haven’t booked your holiday to see the magnificent Northern Lights dance above you? We offer a wide variety of different Northern Lights multi-day trips for you to choose from such as a Northern Lights Lofoten Photography trip! For more information, click here: https://www.arcticholiday.co.uk/multi-day-trips/
Still haven’t booked your holiday to see the magnificent Northern Lights dance above you? We offer a wide variety of different Northern Lights multi-day trips for you to choose from! For more information, click here: https://www.arcticholiday.co.uk/multi-day-trips/
This festive season give someone special the gift of the Northern Lights! Arctic Holiday are now offering Gift Cards that can be used on anything from activities to multi-day trips. To find out more, send us an email here: https://www.arcticholiday.co.uk/contact-us/