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Magic In The Sky: Chasing Iceland’s Northern Lights Photography Tips

Iceland is one of the best places on the planet to see vivid lights moving in the night sky. Figure out how to discover and photo the astonishing Northern Lights in Iceland. 

Northern Lights In Iceland

Before I went to Iceland, I'd just seen the Northern Lights one other time. They astonished the sky one night in Montana back when I was in school. The lights transfixed me for a considerable length of time, viewing the scary green gleam of the Aurora Borealis move over a high mountain go.

Pursuing and capturing the Northern Lights in Iceland was a top need for me — as it is for some guests to the nation.

However many individuals don't understand that this inconceivable wonder is subtle and capricious. Yes, even in a place like Iceland. 

So to help you enhance your odds for finding Aurora Borealis in Iceland, I needed to share a couple tips and photography methods from my current experience there.

Light Trails – 13 Seconds, f/4.0, ISO2000

How To Find The Northern Lights 

So why are Aurora Borealis so hard to see? All things considered, this is on the grounds that there are various variables included. For a flawless Aurora Borealis encounter, you require a mix of dim skies, clear climate, and solid aurora action.

Discover Dark Skies 

For a similar reason star-looking is better when it's dull out, review Aurora Borealis is best oblivious as well. Light contamination from urban areas and towns thwarts the experience. Yes, you can at times observe the lights from Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik. Be that as it may you'll have more fortunes in the wide open far from man-made light sources.

Discover Clear Skies 

On the off chance that the sky is completely canvassed in mists, you won't have the capacity to locate Aurora Borealis. So focus on the climate conjecture, particularly overcast cover (infrared satellite maps). While you can in any case observe the lights if it's somewhat overcast, you'll have the most obvious opportunity when there are no mists by any means.

Aurora Forecast 

Since aurora action originates from space, researchers can foresee how solid it will take a gander at our's sun oriented wind the quality of the Earth's attractive field. the KP-Index ranges from 0-9 with appraisals of 5 or more noteworthy considered sunlight based tempests. There are a couple of sites that particularly track it.

Iceland has an incredible site that predicts both overcast cover and aurora action.

Self-Drive Vs. Group Tour 

With the data you'll learn in this post, you ought to have the capacity to go chasing for Aurora Borealis all alone with a shabby rental auto. Another choice is leasing a camper van. Encounter driving in snow is useful in case you're going by in the winter as conditions can here and there be brutal.

I incline toward investigating all alone as it gives me the opportunity to remain out throughout the night or move areas spontaneously. It's truly not that troublesome. 

Be that as it may in the event that you don't feel great driving around Iceland during the evening, there are a lot of sorted out Aurora Borealis visits accessible. I've joined a couple enterprise visits with Arctic Adventures and very suggest them.

Iceland Plane Crash – 15 Seconds, f/4.0, ISO2500

Best Time To See Them 

The best season to see Aurora Borealis in Iceland is from September to April. The darkest months in Iceland are between November and February, yet these months likewise have the most exceedingly awful climate. Recollect that you require a blend of haziness, clear skies, and solid action.

Seeing Iceland's Aurora Borealis amid the late spring is entirely uncommon, because of right around 20 hours of daylight for every day. 

The additional time you spend in Iceland, the better your odds are as well. In case you're just going by on a 2 day stopover, you'll require a LOT of fortunes to see them. I prescribe spending no less than 7 days on the off chance that you need to discover the lights.

That being said it can be troublesome. For instance, my picture taker companion Ken Kaminesky has gone to Iceland 5 times now and has never observed them.

You additionally won't see the lights in case you're having a good time in Reykjavik. An essential motivation behind why I could catch such incredible photographs of the aurora borealis is on the grounds that I remained outside throughout the night, for different evenings, looking for them!

What To Look For 

Alright, a couple of more tips for finding Aurora Borealis. While it might appear glaringly evident, make sure to look North! The lights move along the attractive groups of the ice circle, so you have to keep your eyes North to see them.

Frequently the lights begin off feeble at in the first place, gradually expanding in power. Powerless aurora action will look dark to the bare eye. Much like wispy mists or mist moving in the wind. They can be not entirely obvious.

Point your camera at the dim stuff and shoot a long-introduction photograph (20 seconds or something like that). In the event that those "mists" turned out green in your picture, they aren't mists! You're seeing a powerless adaptation of Aurora Borealis.

The more grounded the action, the brighter the hues will be. 

The most well-known shading you'll see is green. Be that as it may in case you're fortunate, they can likewise be blue, red, and orange relying upon climatic gasses.

Driving the Ring Road – 13 Seconds, f/4.0, ISO2000

Capturing Northern Lights 

When you discover the aurora, catching fair pictures of it is a radical new test. Here are a few tips to help you photo Aurora Borealis. Huge shoutout to my companion Dave Morrow who helped me take in this stuff.

Photography Gear 

In most photography circumstances, the nature of your rigging doesn't make a difference excessively. However for Aurora Borealis and star photography it does. Here's a rundown of prescribed apparatus you'll need to create awesome shots.

  • Full Frame DSLR with Manual Mode and High ISO capacity 
  • Wide Angle Lens (24mm or more extensive) with Fast Aperture (2.8 – 4.0 least) 
  • Solid Tripod 
  • 2-3 Extra Batteries 

You'll need a quality camera (mark doesn't make a difference) with a substantial sensor for insignificant clamor at high ISO settings. A wide edge focal point helps in shooting vast scenes with the night sky. A quick gap permits the greatest measure of encompassing light to enter your focal point.

A strong tripod gives you a chance to shoot long exposures without creating camera shake. Additional batteries give you adaptability to remain out throughout the night sitting tight for pinnacle movement — in addition to chilly climate channels them quicker.

Focusing At Night 

Indeed, even with the best camera rigging and learning of the best settings, without legitimate concentration, your Aurora Borealis photographs won't turned out fresh/clear. There are a couple of various techniques to for centering your camera during the evening, however my most loved is to concentrate on a far off milestone (like mountains) not too far off.

This is less demanding to do around nightfall or blue hour with some light left in the sky.

Most cameras have a boundlessness center setting (∞), however it's not generally precise. Zoom in however much as could reasonably be expected and change the concentration physically. When you have it secured, make sure to keep "auto center" off and don't touch the concentration ring.

Camera Settings 

I've incorporated my Aurora Borealis camera settings under every photograph in this post to give you a few illustrations. Be that as it may, for the most part, in light of the fact that the power of the light and measure of development is always showing signs of change, you'll need to try different things with settings for the duration of the night.

Your camera ought to be set in Manual Mode, giving you the ability to change every specific setting all alone.


Most expert picture takers shoot in RAW configuration instead of JPG, as it gives the greatest measure of data taking into account more prominent adaptability with post preparing later.


You need to catch however much light as could reasonably be expected, so utilize the most stretched out (quickest) gap your focal point has. I utilized F4.0 in these photographs, yet F2.8 is far better on the off chance that you have it.


Contingent upon how quick the lights are moving, or how brilliant they are, you'll need to modify your shade speed (presentation) as needs be. Anything from 10 seconds to 25 seconds is a decent figure. The speedier the lights are moving, the shorter the shade speed ought to be.


The last setting you ought to alter for Aurora Borealis photographs is ISO. Expanding ISO enables your sensor to catch all the more light. The drawback is that the higher your ISO is, the more sensor clamor you'll get, bringing about a grainy picture. Settings around 2000 – 4000 ought to work best.

Before Processing
After Processing

Post Processing 

When you have a not too bad picture, you can improve it with post preparing programming. I for one utilize Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, however there are others. They all essentially do similar things. How much handling you do is a make a difference of inclination. Craftsmanship is subjective.

Post handling is a colossal point however, so I'll simply give you a super brisk review of what I did to upgrade these pictures and make them pop.

  • Adjust White Balance
  • Increase Exposure
  • Brighten Shadows
  • Brighten Whites
  • Darken Highlights
  • Increase Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation
  • Adjust Curves
  • Noise Reduction
  • Sharpening

                Happy Aurora Hunting!

                My Aurora Borealis photography in this post was caught amid late November over a 3 day window of clear skies and solid aurora movement as I drove around Iceland's renowned Ring Road. The lights would as a rule begin off feeble, expanding in force through the span of a couple of hours.

                The absolute best chances were caught at pinnacle aurora movement, which gone on for around 10-15 minutes. Tolerance and commitment is so vital for Aurora Borealis photography… you have to stick around sufficiently long for the well done.

                With a touch of arranging, a great deal of holding up, and a dash of good fortune, you also can witness this astounding normal marvel in Iceland called Aurora Borealis.

                Seeing them in person is an enchanted affair — there’s nothing like it.
                Magic In The Sky: Chasing Iceland’s Northern Lights Photography Tips Reviewed by Azahar on May 23, 2017 Rating: 5

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