The Northern Lights

Me and my team have been photographing the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) for almost 10 years now. During this time we have driven easily in excess of 250,000 kilometres – quite often on icy roads and in inclement weather – in search of clear skies and a glimpse of the what can only be described as one of our Planet’s most spectacular natural phenomena. Our pursuit has taken us to many different places including Finnish Lapland, Swedish Lapland and Northern Norway, for example. We have also spent time in Iceland, which falls just short of the Arctic Circle but, on a good night, still within the so called “Auroral Oval”.

Based on our extensive experience, I can categorically state that despite what some of the marketing material out there may lead you to believe, there is actually no one better place, or indeed country than another for observing the Aurora. It’s more a case of being at the right latitude and position on any given night, having clear sky above (or, at the very least, a break in the clouds), having sufficient levels of solar activity for the Aurora to be visible to the naked eye and, ideally, being as far away from light pollution as possible.

Moreover, it’s also worth mentioning that it’s not such a good idea to remain static because generally speaking the weather most certainly isn’t – as we’re all only too aware, it’s constantly shifting. This is particularly the case in the Arctic regions where anything can happen weather wise, and often does. The secret is to remain vigilant, i.e. to closely monitor the weather patterns and levels of geomagnetic disturbance (Solar activity) on any given day / night and, if need be, be willing to “hit the road”. By doing this, you will very much increase your prospects of a successful sighting.

And one final point to remember – If the level of solar activity is low then there’s a much greater chance of witnessing the Aurora if you’re in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, i.e. at a latitude of around about 66° 33′ N. I’d estimate that I’ve now spent over 8,000 hours below the “lights” and, as you may imagine, I’ve collected rather a large collection of images / time-lapse footage. I thought that it would be rather nice to share these images with people who have an interest in the Aurora and, in particular, those people around the world whom – for whatever reason – may never get a chance to see and experience this awe-inspiring natural phenomena for themselves. I also thought that it would be good to share a few tips and trick pertaining to the art of photographing the “lights” – or certainly the way that I go about it at least. I’ll also talk a little bit about equipment too. Hopefully you’ll find this information useful and, moreover, that it will encourage and inspire you to get out there in nature, and to start taking your own pictures of the night sky.