For many people seeing the Northern Lights is the experience of a lifetime. Seeing the air swirl with dazzling colors is something that can only be done in the farther reaches of the planet and many people visit or even move to Lapland to view this spectacle.

Capture the Northern Lights

Photographing the Northern lights well is no easy task, but with the right camera and settings, anyone can have their own image of a light-filled sky

For seeing Northern lights that are easy to photograph, a few things are needed.

  1. Cameras that allow for a finetuned settings. Taking night-time pictures, especially of such a specific thing as the aurora is hard to do with default settings. Get familiar with your camera and make sure you can adjust such things like light sensitivity, white balance and exposure time
  2. Before anything else, you need night time. The darker, the better. The long nights of wintertime in the arctic are ideal for this. When nights last as long as they do, the chances for good northern lights increase dramatically
  3. The darkness of night won’t serve you in area with a lot of light pollution. Get away from the big cities and even small towns for the night for the best results. Places where a lot of sky is open like lakeside locations are ideal for avoiding light pollution and optimizing your Northern Lights experience
  4. Clear skies are very important. Because the Northern Lights happen so high up in the atmosphere, any clouds that appear will be between you and the Northern Lights
  5. Finally, you want solar activity. Northern lights are cause by the interactions between the solar wind and the earth’s own magnetic field. Solar activity is hard to predict as a lot of the mechanics that influence the strength of the solar wind are still not very well understood by science, short-term predictions for Northern Lights tend to be fairly accurate. Sites like aurorasnow can give you a good idea for the following few hours

The aurora come in a variety of colors. They will start out pale green and as they intensify will first become a deeper green. Other colors such as blue, red, orange or purple (as seen here) can appear when the Northern Lights are particularly strong.