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  • Writer's pictureJan Noordermeer

5 Tips for Northern Lights Photography

The Northern Lights are sometimes a bit difficult to photograph, but with the following tips you will succeed. Below are five tips for taking a fantastic Northern Lights photo.


Noorderlicht in Lapland
Noorderlicht in Lapland


Tip 1 | Clothing


Usually it is cold at the place where you want to take the picture. In Lapland we see temperatures of sometimes -30 degrees. Often you are far from done after one photo and you are just outside for an hour and then it is good to be nicely wrapped. If you have a pair of gloves with which you can operate your touchscreen, this is very nice, because your hands in particular get very fresh. Your feet also have to endure in the snow, so pack them well with a few extra woolen socks and waterproof snow boots.



Tip 2 | Tripod


When taking the picture, the camera has to be held super still and this is best done with a tripod. You have very compact models that you can easily slide in and out. Please note that you can not only place the camera vertically, but also horizontally. Where we go with the Lapland trip, the wind doesn't blow that often, but take a good look that the tripod can stand firmly.


Tip 3 | Camera settings


There is a lot to write about here but in short it goes like this:


android phone:

With most Android phones you can open the camera to 'More' and via the 'Pro' option you can then set the shutter speed and ISO manually. Speed at 10 (or as high as it can go) ISO at 1600 or 3200 you can play with this a bit. Then set the timer to 2 or 5 sec. so that when you press the shutter button you do not move the camera and you get a beautiful picture. You can already practice a bit with this at home, for example by taking a picture of the stars or the moon


iPhone

With the iPhone it often works automatically with the night mode. But some iPhones don't have good shutter speed options.


Shutter speed

If you cannot set a shutter speed, there are also apps that you can use, for example 'Slow shutter' or 'NorthernLights'. Set the Noise reduction to 'on', shutter speed between 11 and 20 seconds. Longer than 20 seconds is not recommended, because the stars then become more dashes instead of dots due to the rotation of the earth. Set ISO around 1600, depending on the amount of light.


SLR camera

A wide-angle lens will get you off your feet.

Shutter speed around 10-20 seconds.

Aperture between F 2.8 – 4.5, depending on the amount of light there is.

ISO between around 1600, again very dependent on the amount of light.




Tip 4 | Composition


A photo alone of the Northern Lights is already beautiful. The photo becomes even more fun if there is something else on it, such as trees, a house, or mountains. It can also be very nice to use a flashlight on the photo. Note that you keep everything super still, otherwise it can become very blurry due to the long shutter speed.


Tip 5 Processing


Afterwards you can edit photos to make them even more beautiful. I like working with 'Snapseed'. Here you can remove the noise a bit and bring out colors more.


Finally

If you're going to take photos of the Northern Lights for the first time, it's often fun to play with the settings a bit and see what the result is.


Did you know that there are also various apps that predict the Northern Lights? My Aurora Forecast and eg Northern Eys Aurora Forecast. Here you can also set a notification if there is a high chance of Northern Lights. As with rain apps, they don't always work very well and it's still best to go outside and watch.


Greetings,

Kim en Jan




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