10 photography tips for beginners
Photographing the Northern Lights isn’t an exact science; there are a lot of variables to consider. All cameras and lenses will give different results, so a bit of trial and error is needed to find out what works best for you. It’s also important to remember that no two auroras are the same. This means that settings which work one night may not work the next. But don’t let that put you off; experimenting with different settings and seeing the range of results they produce is all part of the fun.
To get you started, we’ve put together some tips that will help you take some great photos of the Aurora Borealis. We hope they help you capture some incredible memories that you can treasure!
1. Manual mode
To begin, you’ll need a camera with a manual setting. Being able to control the various settings is essential for photographing the lights. And remember to turn on manual focus and switch off the flash.
2. Be steady
You’ll need a tripod to steady your camera because the Northern Lights are constantly moving across the sky. A tripod allows you to take clear photographs with a longer exposure time and is especially effective when you’re on board the ship.
You’ll also need some spare, fully charged batteries. In cold weather, batteries lose power faster so keep some spare in a coat pocket as a backup to ensure you have enough power to take some stunning photographs.
4. Memory card
Make sure you have a memory card with a lot of storage or bring a few memory cards with you. There are two good reasons why you should make sure you have extra memory:
- If you plan on editing your photos, you’ll want to shoot in RAW format, as this allows you to capture all the data from the sensor. RAW takes up a lot of memory space.
- Getting the perfect shot of the Northern Lights can take time and lots of attempts so carrying spares means you won’t run out of memory before you have ‘the one’.
A good wide angle lens will allow you to cover as much of the sky as possible and more of the light show. For this, you’ll need a lens which can be set to a fast aperture of minimum f4, and ideally f2.8 if you can.
Optional extra equipment:
- The newer your DSLR camera is, the better as you’ll need a high ISO setting
- A cable release allows you to control your camera remotely, which reduces blurring from manually pressing the shutter
6. Get focused
To capture the Northern Lights as they dance across the sky, you’ll need to adjust your focus. A lot of lenses feature the infinity (∞) symbol. Begin with this setting and adjust your focus accordingly from there.
- Try focusing your lens during the day. It’s a lot easier to set the focus in daylight when you can see more of the landscape.
- If you can, pick out a bright star or planet in the night sky and use this as a marker to help set your focus.