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How to Take Pictures of Northern Lights

How to Take Pictures of Northern Lights

The northern lights - otherwise known as Aurora Borealis, is truly a sight to behold!. Many people make trips to Arctic countries just to experience the display of this beauty! Now, of course it may seem off-putting to some to make such hefty expenses just to see northern lights, but a trip to the north to see the magical lights will have you sighing out of relief that you ever decided to make this excursion.

So even when you make that trip up to the north - are you sure you will be properly equipped to click the perfect pictures of northern lights? I thought so but worry not; I got you covered! I will be elaborating on how to take pictures of northern lights below!

How to Capture Northern Lights 

Northern Lights are one of the most spectacular phenomenon that can only be seen in regions within and beyond the Arctic circle. It remains a priority for people to capture at least one snap of the lights to be able to cherish the beautiful moment forever.

Now, the main question remains – how to capture the perfect picture of northern lights? Well, it is something that not many people worry about when traveling across to see the aurora lights, but it is actually essential to know how to take proper pictures if you don't want to end up with blurry ones. In order to take the perfect capture, the first step is to get rid of any source of unwanted light, and then comes the tips that I will provide you below that you could utilize while taking the perfect northern lights snap:

Essential Requirements 

Here are the things you’ll need.

Manual Mode

It is best to carry a camera that contains manual mode. It is truly the first essential step. Manual mode is needed for the user to control the different setting options, which bodes well while taking pictures during the night. The northern lights exhibit a show of lights, so make sure to turn off your flash light and switch to manual focus. Also, Techwhippet recently released an update on which camera to choose for capturing northern lights. Be sure to check that out.


Not unless you have steady hands, there is little to no chance that you will be able to capture pictures that are NOT blurry in the night time. It takes a person to have mad skills to be able to take perfect snaps of the northern lights, and the pivotal step for this is to use a tripod to take pictures. Using tripods will ensure that none of your snaps are blurry or out of place.


Another thing to note is that your fingers might be too close to the shutter every time when you are angling the camera, which may cause it to take blurry pictures. Instead move your hand and put on the self-timer option and witness the magic.

Wide-angle Frame 

To really secure the perfect snap, you must set your device up for the wide-angled frame. It ensures that you are taking in as much of the setting as possible - making the result come out as picturesque as possible.

Essential Camera Settings 

Let’s learn about the essential camera settings.


People with a newer release of DSLR will have an upper hand in such a case since the ISO setting in newer releases are quite high. To take pictures with great depth, you need to make sure that your ISO setting is predominant. ISO allows you to control light sensitivity, and you can take better pictures with high ISO settings. High ISO setting will provide better outcome for northern lights.


Northern lights photography requires a wide focal length setting and for maximum effect, set your device's aperture level to at least f/4 or f/2.8 just about enough to have some light peek through to capture aurora lights. Lowering the aperture level beneath the 2.8 settings will cram up the quality and make it look extremely gritty.


It is also very important to determine the speed of your device's shutter setting. Not unless you have an idea of the lights' speed and brightness, it could become difficult to determine the speed of shutter. So, experts have suggested some settings to help you safeguard this experience and waste no time going back and forth on the speed settings. It is suggested that for bright aurora lights, you could set your shutter speed between 5 to 10 seconds. For an aurora with a slow pace, you could set it up between 12 to 18 seconds, and while for auroras that are vague, set it up for a 20 to 25 seconds mark.

Balance of Colors 

The white balance setting on your device will help your camera take pictures of the scenery in full authenticity. White balance setting will negate unsolicited light sources coming from the camera and will neutralize every aspect to make it so that the camera captures the authentic experience. To be more specific, set your white balance option to 'daylight' to make sure the pictures are not coming out too bright or yellow.

The Best Time to See Northern Lights 

Now of course, you actually need to be able to witness the display of northern lights to take all these pictures that we’re speaking of. Northern Lights are occurring on a natural basis and can never be predicted. Many specialists have tried to predict the timing of this natural phenomenon but it is especially hard to do so since, it is a naturally occurring event and also because the predictions could be off the majority of the time.

There has been plenty of research conducted to solve the mystery of northern lights and one question that still remains a mystery – well, sort of, is 'when is really the best time to see northern lights?' Of course, it being unpredictable just makes it far more difficult for anyone to rationalize their judgments on a hunch and predict its occurrence.

But based on some research done by experts who have been studying about northern lights for years – the best time to view aurora borealis would be during the months of January to March, and of course, there is a logical reason behind it. Although we can view northern lights at any time of the year (if it decides to show up), we can effectively say that observers are more likely to witness northern lights during Jan to March since the nights are longer for those months.

With that being said, people are more likely to NOT witness northern lights during the months from April to August since the nights are shorter, and the aurora hues showing up could only be seen through scientific equipment.

So it is safer to make the trip during the winter months to witness it in all its glory. Plus, the pictures will come out marvelous too!


With these tips and tricks, you are ready to take some remarkable pictures of the most beautiful phenomenon to exist. Besides taking pictures, also make sure to experience and cherish the moment with your own eyes because nothing feels as surreal as taking in the moment of jubilation.