So, how to take photos of the northern lights… But first you will need a good chance of seeing them.
The best chance of seeing them is to book a northern lights tour.
But to help you get the most out of this experience I am going to go over the steps you can take in determining the chances of seeing the northern lights in the first place and how to photograph them if you do see them.
Now I am no expert. In fact, I have never seen the northern lights! But this is what I have learnt in Iceland (from the experts) of how to take photos of northern lights.
Should I Book The Northern Lights Tour?
While the tour guides are the real experts you still have to pay around £33, and if you don’t see them during your time in Iceland then the £33 was for nothing.
So here are some basics you need to know before deciding whether to book a tour or not:
The best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is from September – October and then again in March and April
Also the conditions need to be right. It can’t be cloudy and although it is possible to see the northern light in Reykjavik (near the docks) you will have a higher chance outside of Reykjavik where there is less light pollution.
Check The Aurora Forecast
But before you book these tours there are a couple of handy websites that you can check out to see if it is worth the money.
This website shows the solar activity and grades between 0-9. This site is simple and easy It has daily information and tells you what grade it is on a specific day. And comes with a chart to tell you what the grades mean from a low to high chance of seeing them. You can also drag the cursor at the bottom to see what the grade will be like on a specific day.
Another useful website to check out. Quick and easy and will give you the latest forecast. Usually with the Northern lights you will only get 30 minute warning, so this website will tell you what the Aurora will be in 8, 20,32 minutes. Okay not useful if you are booking the tour but if you drive around then this might come in use.
How To Take Photos Of Northern Lights.
Unless you can keep still for 15-20 seconds in -12 conditions, it’s recommended to get a tripod. It’s much easier. Any movement at all will cause your photo to blur. It’s harder to take photos at night.
You also need to change your camera settings. Each camera and mobile is different so you will need to refer to your manual. You also have the help of your tour guide who will change the settings for you if you need any help.
Set to manual ( if your mobile doesn’t have the manual option you can download an app called Procam that offer manual controls)
Then go to settings, white balance, night mode
Exposure – 15-20 seconds
ISO (camera sensitivity to light) – 800 (1000 if in complete darkness)
First thing is to make sure your camera has manual settings. If it doesn’t then you will either need to buy a camera that does or you could use your mobile phone instead.
Use a wide lens
Set to infinity focus
Aparture: f/2.2 -f/4
For fast lights: ISO 800-4000
For slow lights: 400-800
You Can Always Edit Your Photos!
If settings are right you should have some pretty decent photos of the Northern lights. If not, you can always edit them. Use a free photo editor like Gimp to make your photos look amazing
I hope this blog was helpful to you and you have better luck than I had in seeing the northern lights. Have you seen the northern lights before? Comment below!