Photographing the Northern Lights – A Lovely Mess

I shared a bit of about our current trip to Norway earlier this week, so when you learn that then you definately already know why we select to go to northern Norway within the winter: hoping to see the northern lights!!!! Earlier than we went, I had learn just a few articles on-line concerning the Aurora Borealis and customarily what to anticipate (or not count on). I additionally learn from different photographers about their expertise photographing this pure phenomenon as a result of, as a photograph junky myself, I used to be actually hoping that if we have been fortunate sufficient to see the lights that I might get an awesome photograph that I might show in our residence from the journey. After studying a bit extra about it, I knew I would wish to pack my tripod as a result of an extended publicity was going to be key to capturing the lights. We had additionally purchased a drone to make use of on the journey (not for the lights, though I suppose you might?), so we packed that as nicely.

Trey and I NEVER examine baggage, we’ve each had dangerous experiences with it earlier than. And a lot of the journeys we go on aren’t tremendous lengthy (apart from one month-long journey, however we drove there), so it’s not too arduous to pack only a carry-on bag. However since I had further digital camera gear, the drone, and snow boots to pack, we determined that we’d most likely must examine a bag. And you already know what occurred? THEY LOST IT FOR MOST OF OUR TRIP.


Fortunately, the host of our Airbnb was (extraordinarily) gracious and let me borrow a digital camera, tripod, and snow boots. (!!!!!!!!!) I’m nonetheless thanking the universe for this kindness as a result of though I might have loved the journey it doesn’t matter what, I might have missed my likelihood to {photograph} the lights as we solely noticed them the primary night time we have been there. And I might have been extraordinarily chilly and uncomfortable on our hike.

Despite the fact that I used to be unbelievable grateful for the borrowed digital camera (a Canon 500 with the equipment lens and a tripod), as any photographer studying this is aware of, it’s a bit uncomfortable utilizing a distinct digital camera for the primary time. Even when you already know precisely what settings you need, determining the way to discover the fitting menus and buttons may be a bit of completely different out of your digital camera, so it takes a bit of bit to get the cling of it. So I used to be fairly nervous to make use of an unfamiliar digital camera to {photograph} one thing that was sure to be difficult anyway.

We have been staying at a cabin in Leknes, Norway. That is a part of Lofoten, which is a superb place to see the northern lights through the winter. You additionally will want a transparent night time, the place you may see the celebs simply. I additionally suggest downloading the My Aurora Forecast app as that actually helped us to know once they have been taking place in our space. It’s fairly chilly within the winter so sitting exterior all night time lengthy could possibly be fairly difficult, however the app was tremendous useful. Above you may see a photograph of when the lights first began to look, it’s an excellent faint arc over the mountains. They picked up extra because the night time went on.

I additionally suggest heat, fingerless gloves with a mitten flap—that approach you don’t need to preserve taking your gloves on and off to mess along with your digital camera when the lights are taking place. They don’t seem to be loopy quick; every time we noticed them, they would seem for anyplace from 5-20 minutes. However they do transfer round as mild clouds which are being blown by a powerful wind, so that you wish to be prepared.

The perfect photographs I bought I had the digital camera set to:
ISO 150-200
F-stop 400+
Shutter 30 seconds (yep, open your shutter for so long as you may to seize the motion)

I additionally discovered that the digital camera had a very arduous time focusing at the hours of darkness. In fact, you should utilize guide focus however I discovered this tremendous difficult as a result of I personally couldn’t see that nicely at the hours of darkness of the night time. So it was arduous to know if I had the digital camera centered correctly as nicely. What I did that labored greatest for me was to focus the digital camera on the horizon space, slightly below the northern lights, and maintain the shutter button down midway so the digital camera focuses however doesn’t fireplace. Then goal it on the house you need and take a photograph. That is much like once you {photograph} two individuals and also you need each in focus, this little trick works then, too (together with having a wider aperture so extra is in focus anyway).

Right here is a photograph taken approach up above our heads, no horizon in sight. I might not have been in a position to focus this shot in any respect with out this little trick. However I additionally discovered that the actual night time that we noticed the lights, I preferred the pictures with a few of the horizon and environment within the shot extra. I believe it provides it a bit of extra perspective, so that you higher see how large the lights have been within the sky.

In fact, even when you’re not a photographer or have little interest in images, I nonetheless suppose seeing the northern lights ought to doubtlessly be in your bucket record. They’re really magnificent and simply actually particular. I can actually say I’ve by no means seen something fairly like them and I throughly loved the expertise with or and not using a digital camera (though I used to be glad I had one).

For any Aurora buffs on the market, be at liberty to share extra info on viewing the lights if you would like! Or any photographers who wish to share their expertise photographing them! Would love to listen to from you on the topic as a result of I (clearly) discovered the entire thing tremendous fascinating. xo. Emma

P.S. Additionally, if you’re on Instagram, take a look at #lofoten as a result of there are some REALLY wonderful photographs of the northern lights in there!

Credit // Creator and Images: Emma Chapman.

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