6 Simple Steps to Capture the Northern Lights for Beginners!
Step 1: Always Set Your Camera And Lens to Manual
To capture the Northern Lights you will need to set your camera to manual and also set your lens to manual. Then you will need to turn off image stabilization, usually this button is next to manual button on your lens. You also need to make sure that your flash is turned off. The reason for this is because automatic setting are no good in the dark, they are only good when the camera can sense its surroundings. If the lens is set to automatic it will keep zooming in and zooming out in a failed attempt to try focus in the darkness. The flashes if not turned off is going to pollute the image with too much light and will completely wash out the Northern Lights.
Step 2: Set ISO 1600 and start from there
ISO is what controls light sensitivity. The higher the ISO, the less light you will need to capture the image. Remember though the higher the ISO the lower the quality of the image.
Step 3: Set Aperture to the lowest f-number you can get on your camera
The aperture on your camera tells you how widely your lens is open. The lowest aperture is the widest your lens opens and is what is required to capture the Northern Lights because the more light the lens can take in the more detail you are going to get in your image!
Step 4: Shutter speed should be set to 15 – 30 seconds
The Shutter speed is the amount of time your lens remains open and absorbing the light. The shutter speed may have to be adjusted as the intensity of the Northern Lights changes through-out the evening. It will not need to be open as long when the lights are intense.
Step 5: Use a Tripod
It is next to impossible to hold your camera completely still and not breath to capture your image of the Northern lights. Number 1 the cold is going to have you shaking like a leaf and number 2 it is too long for a human to stay still, you have to remember some photos are going to take 30 seconds to capture, don’t think you won’t move just use a tripod problem solved.
Step 6 : Make sure you try out these settings
Make sure you try out these settings before going out on your tour to photograph the Northern Lights. So many people didn't know how to adjust their camera's on the night. Best advice really is to get to know your own camera inside out. When you are on site ready to shot, make sure you set everything up first and take some test shots, if the shot is too dark, adjust the shutter speed to be open for longer, if the shot is too bright, adjust your shutter speed down to be open for less.
Finally don't forget to enjoy the experience of witnessing the Northern Lights, it is truly beautiful and absolutely breath-taking, so don't forget to put down the camera for a few minutes to just take it all in.