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  • Photographing the Aurora Borealis

    Posted on January 19th, 2010 Staff Writer

    Today we are going to talk about photographing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. If you have the chance to travel far enough north to witness this phenomenon then I suggest you take a few photos because it’s something you will want to remember. The lights in the sky are caused by the Earth’s magnetic field interacting with energy from the sun. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

    The best months to view the Northern Lights are March and September usually in the far northern or southern hemisphere. The times of best activity seem to be from 10:00 P.M. to 2:00 A.M.

    A few things you might need

    Wide Angle Lense
    Remote Shutter Release Cord or Remote Control
    Extra batteries for the cold
    Folding Chair (unless you prefer to stand and wait)


    You will need a fast wide angle lense. Most wide angle lenses that are included with SLR cameras are f/3.5. This is not fast enough. Try using a f/2.8 or, if you are serious then use a f/1.4. The faster (wider maximum aperture) the lens the better.

    Get the best picture

    If your camera has the ability, shoot in RAW mode to capture the most detail. For starters shoot in manual mode, roughly ISO 400 to 800, an aperture of f/2.8, and a shutter speed of 30 seconds. If you do not have the f/2.8 capability, you will need to bump up the ISO to 800 or 1600.


    Since the Aurora is far away, set the focus to infinity. Be sure and test your lens in daylight. You may need to back off from full infinity for correct focus.


    Aurora photography takes patience. You might have spend many nights waiting for the perfect shot.

    We hope these few tips can get you started if you want to shoot the Northern Lights. Also be sure and visit 42nd Street Photo for all your camera needs.