How to Photograph the NORTHERN LIGHTS! Basic to Advanced

How to Photograph the NORTHERN LIGHTS! Basic to Advanced

We’re going to show you today how you might
go about trying to film the northern lights. Oooooh my got! Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness! Gosh, it’s like dancing around! That’s amazing! This is what it’s supposed to look like. It’s super bright! I can see it on the video Jonas! I know, I know! Oh my god! Yeah! OH yeah, look at that! Whooo. Check this out, This is ridiculous man! yeah Baby! Oh mother… flipping. It’s lighting up the whole sky! It’s pitch black out and all you can really
see are the stars. And right now it is a very very starry night. Eventually, BAM – up come green lights! In this episode of 52 things we’re going to
walk you through how you might photograph the northern lights. And I understand the cost and time involved
on this technique maybe outside of most people’s reach, but if you get lucky enough the lights
may actually pass over your head, Look how far south they’ve been before – so it’s
worth being prepared. so, we’re going to walk through roughly
a dozen tips some that many tutorials don’t really tell you about photographing the lights,
but that we thought were worth mentioning. Much of this lesson today is about shooting
at night, with some special emphasis about these magical lights. So, before we get to any shooting details,
it’s worth understanding what you’re shooting. These are the northern lights as seen from
the international space station. It’s spectacular. They’re essentially the interaction of Earth’s
magnetic field and atmosphere with solar storms originating from the sun. These geomagnetic solar events take some 18
hours from the sun to reach Earth. They somewhat hard to predict too far in the
future, but they do happen regularly. What we do know is that as the Earth’s magnetic
field deflects these solar storms, the energy is channeled towards small bands around Earth’s
arctic regions. Some in the northern hemisphere and some in
the southern. Places along this aurora belt are the best
place to see the lights. The belt can shift up or down a tad, but starting
here is good. Go to far north or too far south, and your
chances decrease significantly. That’s why we’re heading here, and to
the northernmost airport in Sweden. Just landed. It is cold up here! I’ve never been this far north. We are heading into the arctic circle. This is Kiruna. A town that in mid January only gets 3 hours
of daylight. In that time, we still never really saw the
sun. Instead it provided a steady glow on the mountains. Essentially golden hour all day long. It was awesome! Our end destination about an hour and a half
from the airport at station called Abisko, Apparently this is one of the best places
in the world to see the northern lights, but of course is dependent on the fact that…
uh… the clouds are not there! Before we got there we visited the Icehotel
– which was awesome. I’ll save that for another video though. I even flew the drone in an arctic storm,
something I wouldn’t recommend for new drone flyers, but it did give me some of the most
epic footage I’ve ever gotten. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more
excited to get a shot in my life. I’m the king of the … WHoooo. I got it! You got the caribou? I GOT IT! THE Caribou? Yes! YEAHHHH! WHOOO! Finally, we set up camp at the station. The first step in photographing the lights
– choosing our location, was done. Now, all we had to wait on the weather. The first night wasn’t great – total whiteout. The second night was cloudy and while we did
actually see some green through the clouds,… This one cloud just started glowing and I
was like, “that’s not right. That’s gotta be something. That’s gotta be the aurora or something.” It was underwhelming. The third night was clear and our best chance. But, even a clear night doesn’t mean we’d
be guaranteed to see the lights. That’s where our aurora app came in handy. According to my app right now, it’s not the
greatest at the moment but this could change anytime. The weather forecast, hehe, frickin cold…
and windy. Problem is it’s our last night, also my birthday. Can we go? Yeah. I have like five layers on man! Off to set up. Most of the real tips here are things you
can all practice on any night. We were after a timelapse of the northern
lights so the main things were… Getting a solid tripod for the camera. Making sure our camera was shooting RAW and
in manual mode. That meant locking the white balance (I chose
daytime temperature), setting a large f-stop to let as much light in as possible, setting
a long shutter speed – for us though, not longer than say 30 seconds to limit motion
blur in the stars, and upping the ISO just enough to capture the proper exposure, you
may have to play with this number though. Don’t go too high it adds grain, but high
enough to get something on camera. Finally, make sure you’ve locked your focus. This can prove tricky though in the pitch
black. Here is how we do it. We’re going to set the focus on this building
here now. We’re going to lock it and keep it in manual
and that’s what we’re going to start out with when we get down to where we’re going to shoot
the northern lights. Once you’ve done that, we hook up a remote
trigger to our cameras so we don’t have to touch it and start firing away. We did experiment with some panning timelapses We’re going to move in a clockwise direction. but to be honest, I think a standard locked
down shot might be my preference. Then there is composition. We’re going to get the cameras set up in an
area with good composition so that if the northern lights come out, then, not only do
we get to see them, but it’s mixed into a photo that looks good. This can be hard when it’s literally pitch
black. Fortunately we had scouted a few places in
the day and found this overlook of the canyon to be quite nice. Finally, and this is something nobody tells
you, take that UV filter off your camera. On long exposures of the aurora you can get
these concentric bands in the middle of your frame. Mike here didn’t do that and ended up having
them on almost every shot . Now, we just had to wait. That’s when this just scene just appeared
before us! Is it going off right now? I think so, I can’t tell but, back there before
you light hit me, your white light hit me, I could see it. Lets go, lets go. AHH. Over and out, let’s go check this out, ok. It was mind blowing.Jonas got the A7s out
which is good in shooting in low light. This is how bright the aurora is. In the end, I think what we learned from this
trip was this. Seeing the aurora is all about understanding
how to take night photos. Then, you just have to be lucky enough to
get them passing through your shot. That means, you can go out and practice your
aurora photography skills now, anywhere you are in the world. In fact, you’re better off doing it close
to home first, than trying to master your camera settings while in the field, your hands
are frozen and the rare aurora is passing over your head. In our situation, it only peaked for maybe
15 minutes before fading away again. Now, I’m also going use one of the future
videos to show you how to work up these images in photoshop. but I did want to thank everyone for watching
and a big thanks to our supporters on Patreon for their extra support. Honestly, if you don’t have this on your bucket-list
already you definitely have to write it down. Extraordinary. So come up here. Northern Sweden is definitely a great place
to come and do it. I’m just too excited to wrap this up. See you soon. We’ll see you next tuesday with more tips
and tricks to take your photos and videos to the next level. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear
Jonas… What are you doing over there? I’m trying to write a thank-you to all of
you guys for everything you’ve done for me already. Somehow I can’t even describe this, so I… I… It’s taking me forever, cause I can’t but
words to this.

43 thoughts on “How to Photograph the NORTHERN LIGHTS! Basic to Advanced

  1. Awesome video guys!!! I had an absolute blast on this trip with you, let's do something like this again soon! Also, I can't wait to post my video on this experience…too much fun! 😀

  2. Fun fact: Kristian Birkeland, a norwegian scientist and inventor, developed a theory in which energetic electrons were ejected from sunspots on the solar surface, directed to the Earth, and guided to the Earth's polar regions by the geomagnetic field where they produced the visible aurora. This is essentially the theory of the aurora today. Until last year his picture was on the NOK 200 bill, but last year it was swapped with a fish, the cod. go figure.

  3. Lucky enough to have seen these quite a bit and it is very special. Fantastic tutorial as always. Amazing that you were able to get them on video. I would add that they can ebb and flow. They can even come back after awhile. -Henry

  4. Experiencing the Total Eclipse last year was amazing. Looking forward to seeing the Northern Lights some day as well.

  5. And finally you succeeded! 88% chance to see it within 3 nights. But what are the odds of seeing this and capture it with your buddy Jonas? Precious priceless times man! Wish I was there to experience it too! Keep it up!

  6. Wow guys. I had the chance to visit Lappland 4 years ago. I travelled to Kiruna, as well. I spent 5 whole days in the region, enjoyed dog sled riding, stayed at the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi and also met some amazing people. And finally, on my last night, the sky went from black to green in a blink of an eye… And it has been the most overwhelming thing in my life so far. It's an amazing throwback and I love it!!! Thank you!

  7. This was a great vid 🤗 did you use dew heaters ? I'm in nz and night photography is cold but we have the arauras australis which has more orange and reds so very cool no one mentions it much though.

  8. Hi Rob and Jonas.
    I really appreciated your video and want to photograph the northern lights on my next trip to Norway.
    Right now I'm on a Nikon D3300 and I've got a 18-55 f 3.5 lens. Do you think it can work fine or do I need at least a f 2.8 lens?
    Thank you for your helpful advice.

  9. I use a Canon 7D Mark ii (Looking forward to the Mark iii). Tonight the northern lights are suppose to be good, but the moon will be full. I live in the upper midwest in the U.S. and will take a drive up to Lake Superior. I like to do time lapse over a six hour period and I use a Canon interverlometer. I expose for 28sec with a 3 second pause. I set my lens (28mm wide angle) to infinity and the ISO to 3200. Any lower and the lights won't show up as bright. I've gone as high as 4000, but getting a print of the exposure and it is totally grainy. I also use hand warmers on the lens. I cut the top off of an old sock, slide it over the lens and slip two hand warmers under it. Why? Because it keeps the lens from fogging up especially if it is going to be a muggy night or it is really cold-to keep the lens from frosting up.

    Back in 2016 I did a time lapse of the northern lights and it came out fantastic.

  10. Shout out for mentioning the concentric circles from the UV filter! Definitely did that during my first epic aurora. Such a bummer but I'll never do that again haha.

  11. I have the Canon Rebel T6i ,I want to photograph the northern lights,
    What kind of lens I must use?

  12. The content delivered throughout this video failed to meet the content promised at the beginning of the video.

  13. I wish I had watched this before I went out to try and shoot the lights last night.
    It was my first time, and all my decent shots had the bands from the lens filter.

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