Photographing the Northern Lights – Take One

Having been lucky enough to borrow someone else’s camera and tripod for my trip to the Lofoten Islands, inside Norwegian’s Arctic Circle, I was eager to start getting some results. About half way along our drive from the airport to where we were staying, we eventually came to the conclusion that the slightly bright cloud in the sky wasn’t just our eyes deceiving us (or seeing what we wanted them to see) but it probably was actually the northern lights! 

We parked up, and grabbed our cameras. Not having unpacked, we didn’t have tripods or many thermals available – a big mistake! We watched for a few teeth-chattering minutes and jumped back into the warmth of the car. Half an hour later, they were much more pronounced in the sky, so we pulled over again. This time I dug my tripod out and the results were (unsurprisingly) sooo much better. Unfortunately, though, all of my photos are so over-exposed that they could have been taken in day light (it was pretty much pitch black). The problem with borrowing someone else’s camera and not having played around with it until the second I need it (when it happens to be completely dark) is that I couldn’t find ANY of the settings! Eventually, I managed to change the shutter speed without removing my mittens and got results that look a little more like what I actually saw with my bare eyes (see the last photo!).

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15mm, 30 sec, f.4.0, ISO 4000

Unfortunately, the rest of my family were also playing around with cameras, hence the lights!

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15mm, 30 sec, f3.5, ISO 4000. A little post-processing went on here to lower the exposure!

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15mm, 10 sec, f4.0, ISO 4000

10 seconds worked much better than 30. Having said that, now I’ve messed around with the camera in the light, I know where the ISO button is. Hopefully tonight’s photos (fingers crossed the Northern Lights will be on my side) will be better.

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