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Northern Lights

22 Nov 2014 3:48PM
In February 2015 I am going to Iceland for the Northern Lights. I have got one evening when I will be out and about hopefully viewing the spectacle. I intend to go out over the Christmas period to hone my skills.

I have done some night time exposures, however as I wish to maximise the short time I have got does any body have any advise/tips for me. I will be using a D610 with a 24-80 f3.5 or a 10-24 f3.5. I may be taking 70-300.

Many thanks in advance.

Hazelmouse 15 379 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 4:40PM
I expect you realise that a tripod is essential & I also used a cable release.

Unfortunately The Lights don't always appear - I had one evening out of 4 - and that was over a town.

Warm gloves & clothing - probably also obvious.
Carlo73 6 1 Italy
22 Nov 2014 4:54PM
Pay attention to humidity condensation when you go outside from a warm room.
Have a nice trip.
Sooty_1 11 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 7:11PM
Without knowing your level of proficiency, it's hard to know what to mention, as night/sky photography is a large subject in itself. However...

The condensation happens when you come indoors from the cold, not the other way round, as the humidity in the warm air condenses onto cold equipment. You might think about putting your gear into a poly bag with a sachet of silica gel, before coming indoors, and sealing it until the camera gear has warmed up to room temperature.

You might need a long lens for other photography, but you probably won't need one for sky shots. A moderate wide angle is most useful, but very wide is also good for "big sky" images. Look at stuff on Google and see what kind of pictures others take, and you will see which lenses you are most likely to want, but if you have access to one, a wide aperture is important for light-gathering in very low light.

Using a tripod with long night exposures, you may get star trailing. Wider lenses will allow longer exposures, unless you are after long trails, but under 30 secs is usually ok with wide angles. There is plenty of resource out there under "astrophotography".

Hope that's a start!

dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 784 England
22 Nov 2014 7:33PM
Good advice from Nick.

Quote:I have got one evening when I will be out and about

I wish you clar skies and plenty of solar activity.

Keep ISO lower, say no higher than 400, and use longer shutter speeds.
But also try higher ISOs and shorter exposures with noise reduction applied in post processing.
The longer speeds will give a more diffuse look as the light moves, which can be seen to be more attractive aesthetically.

Try and include a strong silhouette or skyline and be careful that bright lights on for example nearby buildings if there are any don't cause burnt out detail.
Perhaps a burst of fill flash or use of an LED torch to highlight someone or something in the foreground.

Just a few ideas to play with Smile

Please remember that the Northern Lights are a product of Mother Nature. Be gentle with them, especially when they don't appear the moment you want them too!

Hope you are in a time when there isn't full moon. The light of the full moon combined with the snow can be so bright "you can read the news paper" and therefore can be a factor of "light pollution"...

We advise our guests here a wide-angle lens with an aperture of f2.8 or larger. You can have shorter shutter speeds, what makes you able to get "more" pictures. Since the Northern Lights can move really quickly, change really quickly from shape, colour and brightness you don't want to miss out the perfect shot...

Wish you a nice trip to Iceland and hope you enjoy the beautiful nature also without the Northern Lights!
14 Jan 2015 4:40AM
I have also tried to get the northern lights. We spent the nest part of 2 hours up a freezing mountain in Lapland waiting..waiting...waiting! nothing appeared! Apparently you are very lucky if they do! A tripod is essential and the shutter speed has to be very slow, there is very little light to catch on top of a mountain. Hope is goes well.
tonyb73 Plus
11 3 1 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2015 10:43PM
Hello, I too am off to Iceland on 24th Feb for 7 nights. I tried in January 2014 in Finland to see them but got 20 mins in 7 days and again in Iceland March 2014 for 4 nights and seen nothing so it is very hit and miss. Essentials to take, tripod, cable release or learn how to use mirror lock up and the self timer, extra batteries and keep them in your inside pocket and of course memory cards. I used the widest setting my lens would allow that was f4, ISO 800 and shutter speeds of 20s to 30s. and don't walk around when you press the shutter, your tripod can move in the snow. Here is a link to my Finland blog!i=3085653142&k=v99f4Zh
and to Iceland!i=3158378338&k=n2P43qz

Let me know when you are going, I am thinking of hiring a car and doing my own thing.

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