The northern lights are one of the most spectacular shows on the planet, The Aurora is an incredible light show caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. The lights are seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.
Most commonly photographed is the Aurora Borealis from the northern hemisphere. It is mostly seen in the countries around the Arctic Circle. Here are some tips to help you capture it;
Pick the right months – The northern lights can be best viewed and captured from late August to early April, the rest will be difficult due to the midnight sun or no astronomical nights during the summer season. The Aurora is there, its just too bright to see it.
A good wide angle lens with a maximum aperture. – The aurora usually traverse the sky and you need a really wide angle lens to capture it. Just like photographing the milky way you need at least an F2.8 lens.
Can I see it with my naked eyes? Yes, if the the level of activity is high. Most of the spectacular light shows are from level 3 and above. You can check http://www.aurora-service.eu for forecasts. It is one of the most unforgettable scene watching the northern lights dance above you.
Are there different colors of the Aurora? The colors most often associated with the aurora borealis are pink, green, yellow, blue, violet, and occasionally orange and white. Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue colors. The type of collision also makes a difference to the colors that appear in the sky: atomic nitrogen causes blue displays, while molecular nitrogen results in purple.
Where are the best places to photograph them? Countries in the arctic circle will be your destination. These are some parts of Canada like Yukon, Yellowknife to some parts of Norway like Lofoten or Tromso, to Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Greenland.
I hope this will help you capture the northern lights. I believe that everyone should try to see this atmospheric phenomena at least once in their lifetime and as a photographer, be able to capture it. I do northern lights PHOTOGRAPHY tours if anyone is interested.
I leave you with this shot in an epic night in Iceland, where I was able to capture a variety of colors of the alluring Aurora.
Canon 5d Mark IV + EF 16-35 F2.8 MkIII ISO800 F2.8 6seconds