Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Northern Lights Photography for Dummies

This is a post about how to capture the Northern Lights with your mirrorless/DSLR camera in the dumbest way possible. So if you actually know anything about cameras, this is not for you!! This is for the camera dummies like me :)

I purchased my camera (Sony A6000) two weeks before my trip to Iceland in hopes of being able to capture the Northern Lights. Before this, the only other camera I've used is my I had a lot to learn in two weeks. I read a million articles to learn the camera lingo/acronyms so I could operate my camera properly on my vacation (but I'm still struggling lol). 

To keep it super basic, here are the settings you need to be able to capture the Northern Lights: 

1. The Northern Lights have to be active (duh) and you have to have a tripod (or a robot hand). I can't stress that enough. 
2. Set your camera to Manual mode
3. Turn off automatic focus! Your camera will keep trying to find something to focus on and capture a blurry picture instead. On the Sony A6000, the settings are from AF-S to MF. 
4. Turn the stabilizer off. On the Sony A6000, it's called SteadyShot and can be found in the menu settings. 
5. Turn your aperture (the f symbol) to the smallest number possible on your camera. On the Sony A6000's kit lens, the smallest is f3.5. The smaller, the better! 
6. Set your shutter speed between 15-30 seconds. My favourite shots on the Sony A6000 were taken with a 25 second exposure. 
7. Set your ISO to the highest possible, unless you have a camera with high ISO capabilities like the Sony A6000. Depending on how active the Lights are, you will need to change this setting. On the night I went, the lights were quite active so I had my ISO set to 6400. 

You will have time to adjust your settings to what you like the most as the Lights dance around the sky, so don't panic that you won't capture them. As long as you have a tripod and the settings as listed above, you should be able to capture it (unless you take 2 hours to fix your settings lol).

If you follow all these steps, be sure to also bring a sign that says "Photos for $5" because everyone will come up to you and ask you to help them take pictures!!! Haha, at least that's what happened with me. It was a fun way to make some friends. 

Good luck, and happy sighting!!

**All pictures were taken in Iceland.
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