With their many shapes and colours, the Lights appear almost like magic in the crystal clear night skies. However, capturing this beautiful sight is unfortunately not always easy. As the Northern Lights are only visible after the sun has set, the lack of daylight makes it difficult to capture this sensation, and automatic camera settings won’t do the job.
To make it easier for you we have put together some tips on how to best use your manual camera settings to take great pictures of the Aurora Borealis. We hope this will help you on the right path!
Batteries are very sensitive to the cold and can lose power if exposed to the cold for too long. It is therefore important that your batteries are fully charged, and that you bring spare batteries if you have some.
2. Memory Card
Make sure you have a memory card with enough memory for your photo session. When photographing the Northern Lights it may take some time and you will probably have to take a lot of shots before you find the right camera settings, and are satisfied with the results.
3. Manual Recording Mode
To be able to choose your own camera settings, which are crucial when taking photos of the Northern Lights, you have to turn on the manual recording mode. It is only when this is done that you will have the chance to adjust the camera settings and make them suitable for the Northern Lights. Also, do remember to turn on manual focus and switch off the flash.
4. Raw format
Always try to shoot in RAW format to get the most data to work with when editing photos after the photo-shoot
The ideal ISO when capturing the Lights is 400. However, it all depends on how much extra light you need and how the ISO affects other settings, such as the shutter speed and aperture. The higher the ISO the more light you add, but do remember that the photos get grainier with a high ISO.
6. White balance
The white balance should be on “Day light” to make sure the light in the photos don’t get too yellow or blue.
7. Shutter speed
Start by setting your shutter speed at 4 seconds to see how the pictures appear and then extend it if needed. It will most likely vary from 4- 30 seconds depending on the ISO and Aperture.
When capturing photos in the dark you want your lens to be as wide open as possible. The f-stop therefore needs to be as low as possible i.e anywhere from f/2.8 to f/5.8
9. Be steady
Don’t forget to be steady when capturing photos with this kind of setting. A tripod is absolutely necessary to shot, especially on our ships. Hopefully the water will stay calm for you!
10. In the end…
The Northern Lights are a beautiful experience and there is nothing that can replace seeing them with your own eyes. So don’t worry if you don’t manage to put the right settings on or if the pictures don’t turn out the way you want. Enjoy the moment and the breath-taking sight in front of you. There is nothing like it!