Last updated: 01:41 PM ET, Wed October 05 2016

Tips for Photographing the Northern Lights

Features & Advice | Janeen Christoff | October 04, 2016

Tips for Photographing the Northern Lights

PHOTO: Make sure you have foreground in your picture. (photo courtesy Thinkstock) 

The Northern Lights are one of the most spectacular sights in the world and it pretty much goes without saying that, when people see them, they will want to capture the image with their cameras. 

Travel + Leisure’s Jamie Carter has provided a list of tips for those heading out to capture the aurora borealis will not be disappointed with their pictures when they return. 

The first suggestion: ditch your smartphone. 

“Forget your smartphone's camera, which doesn't have a sensitive enough sensor for night photography and, in any case, will shutdown in the likely freezing temperatures of winter,” says Carter. 

What should you bring? A DSLR camera and a tripod are preferred. 

Another tip: Use your camera to help you determine if you are seeing the Northern Lights. 

“Your camera is much more sensitive than your eyes, so if you think you see a diffuse grey-green glow on the northern horizon—known as the “forest fire”—but you're unsure, take an image with your camera to check,” says Carter. 

When composing the shot, Carter also advises photogs to use a wide-angle lens and capture the foreground. 

“You need foreground. Sure, point your camera—fitted with absolutely any lens—up at the sky and you'll get some Northern Lights. However, only a wide-angle will get you an image that isn't just some green in the sky,” Carter notes. 

 READ MORE: Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Visit Alaska   

Here is how to get the right exposure: 

“With the white balance on automatic, the focus manually fixed at infinity (if the lens slips, tape it down) and the ISO set to between 800 and 1600 (or even higher if there's no moon), try exposure times of between four and 25 seconds,” suggests Carter. 

For more tips on capturing the Northern Lights, including post processing and creative ways to photograph the phenomenon, read on here


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