Iceland | How to photograph Northern Lights

Iceland | How to photograph Northern Lights

While visiting Iceland, I decided to go on a Northern Lights Tour.
Luckily, after hours of driving around, the clouds parted and we had a small Aurora show. While on the tour, I noticed a lot of people struggling to take pictures of it - that's when I came to realise that not many people knew how to photograph the Aurora. 

Luckily, its pretty simple and easy. All you need is a tripod and a long shutter speed on your camera - to allow more light to get onto the camera sensor.
Here's a very basic, easy guide.

  • Put it on a tripod - to prevent camera shake/blurriness your your imageT
  • Turn the camera to manual modeS
  • Sety shutter speed to around 15-20 seconds (remember 500 rule 500 divided by your focal length = the longest exposure in Seconds before you start to get star trails) for example 500/18mm=27 seconds until your stars start to blur.
  • Set your aperture (ƒ value) to the lowest it will go to.
  • Change your ISO to the lowest value that you can get away with where you image isn't too dark. This bit is important, ideally you want to keep your ISO as low as you can, as the higher it is, the more 'noise' will be produces in the image. If you find yourself at a point where you cant raise your ISO any higher, then try increasing your shutter speed a bit more. 
  • And finally, when you take the picture, use either a remote shutter, or set your camera on a countdown timer. This will prevent camera shake from you touching the camera.
  • Also, it tends to be best to manually focus the image, and turn it off auto focus.

If you want to be in the image yourselves, then stand very still in front of the camera, and get someone to shine a torch on you while its taking a photo. It only has to be for about 3-5 seconds or so, just play around until you get it right.

And that's pretty much all there is to it. Simple


None of these images were taken with anything fancy, just the standard kit lens that came with my camera.
18mm | ISO 6400 | 15s | ƒ3.5
Nikon D5200 | 18-55mm AF-S Nikkor DX

18mm | ISO 6400 | 15s | ƒ3.5
Nikon D5200 | 18-55mm AF-S Nikkor DX

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