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5 Easy Tips to Photographing the Aurora Borealis


Now that you have found the elusive & beautiful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), how do you capture them? We are by no means professional photographers but you definitely don't need to be a professional to catch photos of this spectacular phenomenon. Here are 5 easy tips to get your own photos of the Aurora Borealis.

1. Be Prepared

The most important thing when capturing the Northern Lights is to have your camera ready in the right settings. You never know when you will see the Northern Lights! Make sure you're dressed for the weather as the clearer nights tend to be the colder nights.

Northern Lights over the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

2. Bring a Tripod

You will need a sturdy tripod to photograph the Aurora. It can get windy in Iceland so bring a sturdy tripod. Your camera will need to have its shutter open for a long duration in order to best capture the lights, so it will need to be steady the whole time. We also remove the camera strap to prevent the wind from blowing it around and moving the camera. Don't forget to use your timer mode for this one. As you press on the shutter, this small movement will affect the camera as well.

Northern Lights over the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

3. Camera Settings

Set your camera to full manual mode and pick a wide lens with a high aperture (low F), giving you a faster shutter speed. Use the settings below as a starting point and you can play around with the settings to get the photo you're looking for. You can also play around with the exposure.

A lot of people think you can only take photos of the Northern Lights with a DSLR, but you can capture them on any camera where you can change the required settings. You can even take a great time lapse on your GoPro. Here are the settings we used with our GoPro Hero 5. We did not find the option for continuous interval at the time so our time-lapse was not smooth. Wish we could redone our time lapse but here are the settings you SHOULD have!

Time Lapse at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon‎ from GoPro

4. Extra Batteries

With cold weather there are definitely some challenges. Avoid taking your camera back into the car or a warm bag as condensation would build up and make it impossible to take photos with. The other thing is in cold weather, your battery drains much faster so be sure to bring extra batteries and keep them in your pocket to keep them a little warm.

5. Take the Shot

The Aurora Borealis comes in many different colors, with the most popular being green & pink. It can also appear yellow, violet, blue, orange and even white. Keeping this in mind, you may not even know what you're looking at. It also takes some time for your eyes to adjust to the dark, especially if you've been staring at your phone or have lights on. We have seen what we thought was another cloud in the sky that really was the Northern Lights!

When in doubt, just take the shot! Your camera with long exposure can better capture the lights than your naked eye. Give your eyes a little time to adjust and just enjoy!

Have fun with it & play with different foregrounds. Avoid light & area where there's a lot of car traffic. You can also light up the foreground to get interesting shots.

Are seeing the Northern Lights on your bucket list? Where are you planning to see them?

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Welcome to Messie Adventures! We are Mitch & Jessie. We're living on the beautiful island of Sint Maarten.

We're always trying to make the most of our time travelling when we can. 

We hope our photos will inspire you to take your next adventure. Where are you off to next?

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