We are on an Aurora Borealis roll here as I answer the question “How do I shoot the Aurora Borealis?” If this is the FIRST post you are seeing in this series HOLD ON! Start right HERE to find out why I love shooting the Aurora, and then over to HERE for part one of this 2 part discussion on shooting the Northern Lights!!
Last time we talked about location being extremely important in capturing incredible Aurora shots. Now we are going to get a bit more technical… So if technical just isn’t your thing, well just enjoy the pretty pictures ;-P
When it comes to camera settings it will depend on the intensity and the speed the Aurora is producing. Aurora Borealis can have a multitude of spreads, speeds, light intensity and sizes, you will need to adapt.
The Aurora can be quite bright at times, so there is a chance leaving a shutter open for over 30 seconds is too much, and everything will be way too washed out. Now that I have shot a lot I can tell where my settings should be to start. However to test start with a 20 second exposure, iso 400, and in the f-2.8 to 3.5 range if at all possible. After seeing that first image you should have a fair idea of what you are dealing with that evening.
|A Long exposure that really washed everything in green.|
I was out just last night, and the Aurora was very weak, and just due North. But I had a great dark sky and a nice foreground. So I had the opportunity to open up the shutter into the 10 minute range!
|A long exposure that worked with the low intensity of the Aurora that night.|
If the Aurora is super bright, and ribbons are all over the sky you are going to want to play with a faster shutter speed. For lights off in the distance, a long shutter is fine, but sometimes they move very quickly and that same shutter speed will cause a green blur. Try like 1-5 second exposures and see the difference! You can get some incredible patterns!
If you are looking to change things up a bit more, a fun thing you can try is shooting straight up. If the lights are over your head you can grab some REALLY cool images. The kind you see on certain desktops of overpriced laptops…
|Shot straight up, you can get some great looking photos!|
Like I have said, when you are shooting The Aurora Borealis, you need to move fast! So be ready to move, know your camera, and find what works! I hope to see your Aurora shots really soon!
|Another long exposure. If the lights are not cooperating, make them work for you!|
If you have not read WHY I love the Aurora so much go HERE