Photographing the Northern Lights is easier than you think, with the correct know how that is. Read on to learn how to get great photos of the Northern Lights.
Most importantly if you want to get good images a phone camera just won’t work. A camera that is good in low light is your best bet, therefore a DSLR or mirrorless will produce the best quality images. The best of these would be a DSLR or mirrorless camera with full frame sensor. Combine that with a fast wide angle lens like a 16-35 f2.8 and you will be able to produce great images.
My preference is the Sony Alpha range of cameras and lenses. Check them out here: www.sony.com.au
As well as having a good camera you will also need a sturdy tripod for shooting at longer shutter speeds. You will need to do this to capture the movement of the Aurora and keep your images in focus.
To photograph the Aurora follow the steps below:
- Pack extra batteries. The cold will cause the batteries to drain very quickly.
- Attach your lens to your camera before you go out into the cold.
- Make sure you have your gloves, your hands will be freezing and no good to you at all without them!
- Set your camera to a high ISO, this may be a trial an error thing as each camera is different. Some will allow you to use very high ISO without getting too much grain, whilst others will be very grainy. You should practice with your camera at night prior to shooting the Aurora.
- Adjust your camera to manual focus because it will have a hard time trying to focus in the dark on autofocus and you will end up with blurry images.
- Focus your lens to infinity if possible. Your lens should have this symbol ∞ on it that marks the spot. If your lens does not have this or it’s too difficult for you to do in the dark, then focus on a star or the moon. It will be best if you can set your camera to live view to focus on a star as looking through the viewfinder will be difficult. Once you have the star focussed in live view, zoom in to check that it is sharp.
- Set your aperture to the lowest possible f stop (like f2.8 or f3.5).
- Set your shutter speed to between 1/4 second and 15 seconds. Your shutter speed will be determined by the activity of the Aurora. You may need to change this if your image look too dark or too light.
- A remote shutter release is good as it will reduce camera shake by you pressing the shutter. If you don’t have a shutter release you can set your camera onto a self timer.
- Take some photos and if you can check them and zoom in to see if they are in focus. If not you will need to adjust your lens and have another try.
Importantly you will need good quality gloves!
Make sure to have fun!
Have fun photographing the Aurora but make sure you take the time to watch the amazing light show that you will see before you, because those are memories to keep.
For more information on seeing the Northern Lights in Yellowknife check out our blog post: The Northern Lights Yellowknife