Island the country where ice & fire co-exist
Where dark winters are offset by the summer’s midnight sun. A country where insular existence has spurred a rich and vibrant culture. This is where you may see and take pictures of the Northern Lights.
The Aurora Borealis, more commonly referred to as the Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon created when particles emitted by the sun interact with the atmosphere in the Earth’s magnetic field. This releases energy, causing peculiar luminous green streaks across the skies.
The Aurora Borealis takes its name from the Roman Goddess of Dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the North Wind, Boreas. From September to April, Iceland is a hotspot for this magnificent lightshow.
On clear winter nights, sightseeing trips are organized around this spectacular—though fickle—natural phenomenon. The ideal location for sightings varies and excursion leaders are skilled in “hunting” the lights, finding locations where conditions are best for seeing them on any given night.
How to take a photo of the Northern lights: First thing first, clear skies. If the weather cooperates, you are already half-way there. You can always check weather conditions, cloud coverage and Aurora activity on the Icelandic Met Office Website.
A far as equipment goes, the most important thing you can bring is a tripod and a cable release to avoid the dreaded shaken photo syndrome. If you don’t have a cable release, set your camera’s self-timer to two or ten seconds shutter delay, if available.
There is no single setting for your camera that ensures great captures, but if you have manual options, you are probably best served with experimenting with various combinations of ISO, aperture, and exposure settings. As a rule of thumb, ISO setting between 800 and 3200, aperture between f/2.8 and f/5.6, and shutter speed at between 15 seconds and 30 seconds have proven effective.
Different combinations may give very different results. Higher ISO setting will allow you to capture faster exposures, but may also result in grainier images, for example. Note that shutter speeds of above 15 seconds will result in a slight star movement. Wider angle lenses are usually more versatile in low light settings, but longer lenses give you different options for compositions. Make sure that you remove all lens filters, as they may distort images. You will probably get the best results with a manual setting for infinite focal length.
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