Northern Lights Photography Tips and Tricks


Northern Lights Photography Tips and Tricks

Congratulations – you made the decision to take a Northern Lights holiday in Iceland with Iceland Unlimited! You are coming to Iceland in winter and you have already arranged to go searching for the Northern Lights, either by car, super jeep or on a scheduled bus tour.

For all of you who want to capture the Northern Lights with your camera but don´t know how, we’ve prepared this simple step by step guide to maximize your chances of snapping some great photos to bring back home with you.


Step 1: Get a tripod.

Northern Lights PhotographyFor Northern Lights photography, you will need a tripod. There is no way around it. Even the slightest camera shake will result in blurry images. So the number one tool that you need for capturing the Northern Lights (along with your camera) would be a tripod.  It is also recommended that you bring a remote shutter release that allows you to fire off the camera without touching it for absolute no camera shake. If you don’t have one, set your camera on a 3-5 second timer before firing.


Step 2: Manual camera settings.

Northern Lights PhotographyUse the manual settings of your camera. This also applies to the auto-focus.

Use the widest aperture (smallest f-number, i.e. 2,8 or 4) to be able to use higher shutter speeds. Experiment with shutter speeds up to 30 seconds.

Set the focus at infinity and select the ISO number (200 to 400). Higher numbers may result in more grainy photos, so you need to experiment.

Lower the LCD brightness, it is better for night vision.

Finally, if your camera supports it, try using the RAW mode.


Northern Lights PhotographyStep 3: Be creative.

Once you have done the basics to ensure that you will capture the Aurora, you now have to try for more creative, unique photos. Find an interesting foreground such as the lights reflecting in water or a snowy mountain, if possible.


Step 4: Warm clothing.

Northern Lights PhotographyLast but not least , as always in Iceland- dress warmly! You are probably going to spend some time in low temperatures trying to get the result that you want and you don´t want to be cold. We recommend a good quality woolen underwear with fleece middle layer and a warm parka. Gloves and hats are essential too.


Kristján Helgi Benjamínsson
Posted in November 2013