Dancing green northern lights in the sky.

Capturing the Magic of the Northern Lights: A Guide to Photography

Are you eager to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the Northern Lights through photography? Our expert tips will help you optimize your chances and enhance your photography skills for this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

Equipment and Settings

To increase your chances of success, consider using an SLR camera with a tripod for stable long exposures (10 to 20 seconds). Use a lens with a wide aperture (e.g., f/2.8, f/2.4, or f/1.4) and a wide-angle perspective. Wrap foam around tripod legs to prevent skin contact and use a cable release or timer function. Protect your hands from cold and frostbite with thin gloves and carry thick mitts for extreme conditions. Don't forget a headlamp for visibility in the dark.

Batteries and Cold Weather

Cold temperatures drain camera batteries quickly, so always carry spares and keep them warm by storing them close to your body. Consider investing in a battery grip loaded with lithium AA batteries for longer-lasting power. Avoid taking your camera indoors to prevent lens fogging. If necessary, place your camera in a plastic bag with ziplock seals to minimize temperature changes and condensation.

Selecting a Location

Choose a photography location with an interesting foreground element, such as a lit tent, building, or trees, to add depth and perspective to your images. Optimal ISO settings typically range around 400, but you can increase to 800 if needed, keeping in mind the potential for noise. Set your focus to infinity and open the aperture as wide as possible for your lens. Consider turning off the LCD display to prevent interference with your vision through the viewfinder.

Capture the Spectacle

Remember that your camera may only capture a portion of the sky, so keep in mind that the Northern Lights often cover a 360° panoramic view during intense displays. While it's easy to get immersed in photography, don't forget to take a moment to step back, appreciate, and enjoy the breathtaking show unfolding before you.

Film Cameras

If you prefer using film cameras, they can work well in cold temperatures as they are less reliant on battery power. However, be cautious when handling film in cold weather, as it can become brittle and break. Film development can be challenging to reproduce the vibrant colors of the Northern Lights accurately, as they may appear greener in photographs than to the naked eye.

Making Movies

Filming the Northern Lights with regular movie recorders is virtually impossible. Specialist equipment is required to capture moving images of this ethereal phenomenon.


By following these expert tips, you'll be well-equipped to photograph the Northern Lights with confidence and capture stunning images that preserve the awe-inspiring beauty of this natural spectacle. Immerse yourself in the experience, savor the moment, and let your photography skills capture the magic of the Northern Lights.

Ready for your next Polar Adventure?

Welcome to Polar Adventures, your gateway to unforgettable experiences in the Arctic region. We offer a wide range of tours and activities, from thrilling dog sledding and snowmobile safaris, to scenic fjord cruises and Northern Lights chases. Our experienced guides and staff are dedicated to providing you with the best possible adventure, while ensuring your safety and comfort. Come and discover the magic of the Arctic with us!