Aurora Borealis is “the holy grail” for many landscape photographers. If you’re one of them, a hotel in Iceland has a unique offer that you may want to apply for. They will give you a month of room and board and cover your travel expenses. You don’t need to pay with money, but with your photos and videos of the Northern lights.
Two years after I received my first camera, I decided it was time to learn how to capture the night sky. One evening in December, I headed out with a headlamp, my trusted Canon 6D, a wide-angle lens, and a tripod. To make a long story short, I returned home with nothing I could use. My compositions were off; every shot was under-exposed and out of focus. Talk about a steep learning curve!
The next time I headed out, I had learned a few things: Check the histogram after each shot; it is wise to shoot exposures at a few seconds with maximum iso to nail the comp. When I had a composition I could live with, I changed the settings to something more ‘normal.’ During the daytime, I had found out where the lens had its optimal setting for having most of the scene in proper focus. I also learned that using autofocus in the dark yields a terribly frustrating experience.
Frøydis Dahlheim is a trained singer and teaches singing in an arts school. In addition, she sells images and works part time as a photo guide. It was actually by accident she became a photographer back in 2014. She had signed up for three painting classes, but picked up a camera instead when the organizers cancelled the courses. Later, she was introduced to Instagram and she intuitively understood that this was a media where she could express herself creatively.
She tells DIYP, “I have always been fascinated by the northern lights, and the desire to capture this phenomena moved me to purchase my first real camera.”
She now uses the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Canon 16-35mm for night photography. The aurora season lasts from the end of August to the beginning of April in the northern parts of Norway, she informs us.
The Northern Lights are on many people’s bucket lists. The celestial phenomenon occurs in the upper levels of our atmosphere. We’ve long sought explanations for these beautiful lights, and extensive research has come up with many answers. We thought we had it all covered until something strange happened. Recently, in Finland, a scientist discovered a new type of Aurora.
Each Aurora we see has a classification, it makes it easier to describe. For example, these ripples and waves of light got a cool-sounding label like ‘corona’, which describes an Aurora straight above us. The one that appears as if it’s falling straight down. This new observation, labelled ‘dunes,’ was discovered by citizen-scientist Pirjo Koski and her team in Finland.
Smartphones are getting smarter with every new generation, and so are their cameras. But when you combine a good photographer and a good smartphone, the sky is the limit. Quite literally. Zach Honig of The Points Guy recently shot magnificent Northern lights with nothing but his iPhone, handheld at a 3s exposure. He shared his experience and some photos with DIYP, so let’s see how he did it.
In December 2014 I decided that I wanted to practice shooting the night sky in order to expand my photography skills. Of course I made every possible mistake. My compositions were completely off, I severely underexposed or blew out the sky and the images were not sharp.
We just posted yesterday about the incredible sights that nature can present us with when Ted Chin showed us his photographs of the Firefall at Yosemite National Park. Things like that, though, you can plan for. You’re never guaranteed to see it as well as Ted did, but you have a reasonable idea of when it’s going to appear.
This, though, is something completely random, that you can never plan for, or even consider getting in your wildest dreams. Photographer Jingyi Zhang was in Iceland earlier this month and they actually managed to photograph the appearance of a dragon in the Northern Lights display over Iceland.
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), there’s a minor geomagnetic storm going on today and tomorrow (9th and 10th) that will cause the Aurora Borealis to appear over the USA’s northern states including Montana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, north Dakota and the northern tip of Maine as well as Canada and Alaska.
Interesting Engineering reports that it’s expected to start pretty soon, too. They’re scheduled to appear on Friday the 9th from 4-7pm EST and then again from 10pm until 1am tomorrow morning.
Auroras look so magical, and it’s no surprise that it’s on a lot of photographers’ bucket list. Not all of us will ever get the chance to photograph these magnificent lights, but if you happen to be lucky enough, will you know how to shoot them? Thankfully, expert aurora photographer Mads Peter Iversen just posted the ultimate video guide on how to predict and photograph this elusive phenomenon.