Photographing and Editing the Northern Lights Made Just a Bit Easier

If you're fortunate enough to be somewhere in the world where you have the chance to photograph the northern lights, you'll want to be prepared to take some beautiful images. Hopefully, the tips and tricks in this video help to set you up for success.

Brought to you from Benjamin Jaworskyj, this video lays out some pointers for both actually photographing the lights as well as editing tips to help you try and make the most of your image. The northern lights are a view that top many folk's must-see lists, for both photographer and non-photographer alike and it's pretty obvious why. The surreal nature of seeing a green neon sky, alive with motion above you, is without a doubt something that can inspire awe.

Should you find yourself in a location with the chance to take photos, go into the situation prepared. One of Jaworskyj's tips involves becoming comfortable with manual focusing in some situations. This is something that I can say firsthand has definitely helped me improved my landscape images. Especially when it's dark outside, auto focus isn't necessarily going to be reliable if it's even usable at all and having a basic understanding (and some practice) with manually focusing your lens is a skill worth developing.

I'd love to know how many of you folks have had to opportunity to either see or photograph the northern lights before. Was is a struggle or did you end with images that you're really proud of? Was the experience itself as majestic as you'd hoped? It certainly seems like it could be a life altering view, one that may inspire for a person for years to come.

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My wife and I were fortunate enough to capture the Northern Lights twice in Norway a few years back. The first night wasn't the greatest. The second night was miserable because I lost the plate to my D750 and while shooting them with my backup A6300, the damn thing froze. Even though the temperature was far above what Sony said it could withstand, the damn lens froze. Got a few decent shots, but nothing amazing. So, best tip I can give is, be prepared for anything and have a backup.

Bill Williams's picture

25 second exposure I find is much to long for Northern Lights. A) because you loose the sharper edges of the aurora movements and B) at higher latitudes your stars will begin to blur and look out of focus due to the earths rotation. When I do large prints I want crisp stars with the Northern Lights.

Never had an issues battery wise with the A7RIII in -40C. If traveling any distance before shooting I keep the batteries on the inside pocket of my coat.

It is important to make sure you avoid hot to cold to hot as it will cause moisture build up on your gear

Tom HM's picture

I went on a trip to Finland last December to see them. Conditions were bleak though. The aurora alert app remained silent for the whole time we were there - the forecast was low energy and pretty much solid cloud cover the whole time. The aurora workshop we attended teased us with the science and a whole host of amazing photos taken locally. Our guide, combined with his network of lookouts predicted a small chance from a certain spot about an hour north of where we were staying. The next evening, we headed out there in the van but there was nothing to be seen. Periodically, scanning the skies and then climbing back in for warmth, hopes were diminishing. At about midnight and just as we were about to give up and head back, our guide stepped out for one last rolly. A moment later, he frantically waved us over. Stood on the frozen river separating Sweden and Finland, there it was in front of us. A feint green wisp of the Borealis. I imagine it wouldn't get seasoned viewers very excited but I was over the moon, given that I had pretty much accepted it wasn't happening for us. Truly magical.