There are reports that the Northern Lights may be visible in the North of England tonight! (See: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/northern-lights-could-visible-manchester-8861560)

As some of you may know I have just returned from Norway where I have been photographing the Northern Lights.  You can see a few of my images of the northern lights here: http://photos.imb.biz/travel/norway/northern-lights

So here are my top tips for how to get stunning images of the lights if we do get to see them tonight.

  1. Get out to somewhere dark!  The lights are not as vivid to the human eye as they appear in photographs, so the less ambient light, the easier they will be to see – and to photograph.
  2. You will need a tripod.  And your exposure will need to be several seconds – so if your camera or lens has image stabilisation / vibration reduction don’t forget to turn it off.
  3. In the dark your camera may not be able to focus.  So turn off auto focus and focus on infinity or slightly in front of infinity.
  4. Use a wide angle lens – when I photographed the lights they covered quite a large area of sky and hopefully here in the UK they may do the same – so cover as much of the sky as you can with your lens.
  5. Try to include a little bit of ground or forground in the image to give the image come context.
  6. Aperture: Open your aperture up as wide as it will go.  f/4, f/2.8 what ever is available to you.
  7. Set your ISO reasonably high but not too high.  The higher you go the more noise you will get in your photos. With my Canon 5D Mk III I was shooting at ISO 1000.
  8. You shutter speed will need to be anything from about 4sec to about 20sec.  Take a test shot and adjust the settings accordingly.

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