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The Beauty and Wonder of Iceland's Northern Lights Like Never Experienced Before

Michigan-based photographer Vincent Brady spent five weeks in Iceland living out the back of a rental car to capture the ethereal footage found in his latest 360-degree time-lapse project “Aurora Panoramas Acoustic Borealis.” The video depicts Iceland in its full fantastic glory, with brightly colored auroras floating above fairytale landscapes. Set to an original mellow acoustic tune by long-time friend Brandon McCoy, this video makes for the perfect 4-minute weekend getaway.

To capture the brilliant display of the Northern Lights, Brady used his trusty homemade mounting system employing four Canon Rebel T2i cameras and four Rokinon 8mm fisheye lenses. The setup allowed for a complete 360-degree view of the Icelandic world. Brady has used this system of cameras in his previous time-lapse works such as “Planetary Panoramas” and “The Firefly Time-Lapse.”

Included on the YouTube page for "Aurora Panoramas Acoustic Borealis," Brady lays out the locations of each shot and what about them interested him to include it in the final work:

  • 0:16 - Seljalandsfoss - I'm not sure why the waterfall was lit with hot pink lights this night but it made for a nice contrast against the green lights coming in.
  • 0:35 - Hvítserkur - I setup my cameras in the black sand during low tide near the bottom of the walking dinosaur. As the tide gently came in my cameras were capturing the water and the flow of auroras across the sky.
  • 1:00 - Skógafoss - I wanted to see as many reflections of auroras as I could so I setup my camera rig in the moving water at the bottom of the mighty waterfall. The auroras flowed across the sky just like the river I was in. 
  • 1:42 - Lake Myvatn - A quiet peaceful night in north Iceland. The stillness of the water was highly photogenic as the stars and lights streaked across the clear sky.
  • 2:06 - Gatklettur Sea Arch - A short hike from the fishing village Arnarstapi leads to eroding lava formation in the sea. As waves crashed against the arch the auroras gained intensity in the sky.
  • 2:40 - Kirkjufell - One of the best displays I witnessed on the trip was at Iceland's iconic Church Mountain on Sunday morning. It was incredible to watch the lights at times seem violent as the pulsed across the sky. The gentle waterfall came down the mountain and flowed into the bay as the moon was rising.
  • 3:03 - Skógafoss - The same shot sequence just edited in a different way, with a really cool trick!
  • 3:27 - Jökulsárlón - Moonlight lit up ice blocks in the glacier lagoon as quiet auroras swayed across the sky.
  • 3:54 - Kirkjufell - Similar location on a different night, as auroras were much quieter.

You can find more of Brady’s projects on his website and YouTube channel.

Ryan Mense's picture

Ryan Mense is a wildlife cameraperson specializing in birds. Alongside gear reviews and news, Ryan heads selection for the Fstoppers Photo of the Day.

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This is just absolutely gorgeous. Breathtaking timelapse and images!

Too bad that it doesn't make use of the 360° experience YouTube offers now. After reading the title I've hoped for a real 360° video of this beautiful natural spectacle. It would be a cool VR experience.

Vincent said he's working on just that using what he captured for this video. Will be cool to check out once ready.

My friend has some awesome 360° Auroras on his website.

For example:

See more under Panoramas / Iceland / Aurora Northern Lights

That just blew my mind! Amazing stuff.