Northern lights in Iceland

Northern lights in Iceland – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo was taken on a trip to Iceland in March, the season of the Northern Lights (Sept to Apr). I learned many things while practicing my night photography on this spectacular display.

Firstly, the lights themselves look brighter in a photo than in real life. This is because to take a night photo you will use a long exposure, so the photo is a collective of multiple seconds of light put together.

Due to the long exposure of a night photo there is plenty of time to accumulate blurry movement into your photo. Essentially a tripod is your best friend so that your camera is as still as can be. Not wanting to travel with a tripod, I found a table to rest my camera on.

The lights are in the North. This may seem obvious enough to most people, but the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. So when you see stunning photos of Northern Lights over a mountain or lake, that landscape must also be to the North of you.

They aren’t around every night or all night and to see them best, the sky needs to be mostly clear of clouds. This mysterious light display comes and goes at will, popping up and disappearing whenever it chooses. They are higher than the clouds, so clouds will obstruct your view of them. This means that to take the ultimate Northern Lights pic you needs a bunch of patience to sit up all night and watch the sky in a freezing cold environment.

Conveniently we stayed in a hotel which gives you a wake-up call when the night security person sees the lights appear. Great for us to get some sleep, but this means that the landscape you are photographing the lights in wont be as impressive as camping on the south aspect of a gorgeous mountain or lake.

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