5 Steps to Photographing the Northern Lights

We’re breaking down the 5 simple steps to successfully capturing your first image of the Northern Lights. Whether you’re an amateur photographer, avid traveller, or just looking to share capture this bucket list experience; we’ve got you covered!

STEP 1: Choosing a Location

One of the most common questions we get on our TJD Series trips is, “can I see the Northern Lights?”. The short answer is often “It’s possible!”, but each location is different. Depending on the time of year, we need to look at two important factors; daylight hours and how far North the location is.

In the Northern hemisphere, the best time of the year is usually September – March, as these months offer more hours of darkness, (see chart below).

Each dark month has its own character worth taking into consideration while planning a Northern Light trip to Lapland.

The second location factor is how North the destination is. This is important, because the strength of the Aurora, (measured as a Kp Index) will dictate how far South you can see the Northern Lights. All of our TJD Winter Series destinations fall within the Kp0-Kp3 zones, which means there is always an opportunity to see the Northern Lights, if there are clear skies.

Source below: www.weather-atlas.com/en/finland/ivalo-climate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each dark month has its own character worth taking into consideration while planning a Northern Light trip to Lapland.

The second location factor is how North the destination is. This is important, because the strength of the Aurora, (measured as a Kp Index) will dictate how far South you can see the Northern Lights. All of our TJD Winter Series destinations fall within the Kp0-Kp3 zones, which means there is always an opportunity to see the Northern Lights, if there are clear skies.

STEP 2: Forecasting

When it comes to predicting the Northern Lights, we can only do so much. Forecasting for cloud cover and the Aurora activity is the most important. We at TJD love the ‘My Aurora Forecast app’ as it gives us a good indication of whether or not we should stay up all night, waiting for the show!

 

STEP 3: Preparation

If you plan on seeing the Northern Lights, this can mean late nights spent outside in the cold. It’s important to dress warm and be comfortable to best enjoy the experience. Here are a few tips for dressing for the occasion.

  • You will need three layers to work in concert for maximum warmth
  • Base layer: Your long underwear needs to keep your skin as dry as possible.
  • Middle layer: Your fleece or puffy jacket needs to hang onto as much body heat as possible.
  • Outer layer: Your gear needs to protect you from snow, rain and wind.

STEP 4:  Capturing the moment

 

If you’ve picked the right location, checked the forecast, and dressed correctly; it’s now time to choose your gear. Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or travel enthusiast, you will need a camera to capture the moment.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an expensive DSLR camera to photograph the Aurora Borealis. Most of the new smartphones have great cameras, with the ability to capture long exposure images. To get started, I would recommend the following:

 

  • Apple iPhone 11 pro, or DSLR Camera (from entry level, to pro models – any DSLR will do!)
  • A tripod – this helps with long exposures and makes sure your phone or camera will take a clear photo of the Aurora
  • A wide lens and an open space – the wider the lens or view, the more you can capture!

 

STEP 5: Getting Lucky

 

Ultimately, if you’ve followed Steps 1 – 4, you’re ready to capture the show! The last piece of the puzzle is ‘getting lucky!’.

No matter how much planning or preparation we put in, you can never predict the Northern Lights. This is what makes the entire experience extra special. So plan for it, get out there, and if it doesn’t show; then try, try again!