Auroral photography: A guide to capturing the Northern Lights

If you’ve ever been interested in aurora photography, now is a great time to get out there and give it a try. Here’s why:

  • The activity of our sun (the cause of aurorae here on Earth) ebbs and flows in eleven year cycles.  The peak of the current solar cycle – an apex of auroral activity – will occur around 2013.
  • Revolutionary improvements in imaging technology have been made since the last solar cycle. We have progressed from film to an age of digital image sensors which offer far greater sensitivity and resolution, along with real time feedback and less noise.
  • Our ability to predict the timing and intensity of aurorae has been enhanced considerably with the launch of the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory, the product of a collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA.

In the next few years we will enjoy sensational aurorae, advance notice of their arrival, and the equipment necessary to capture them as never before. Even armed with all of these advantages, however, the aurorae are not going to put themselves on your memory cards. That’s something you’ll have to do yourself, and it can be a struggle.

This article provides ten suggestions that, if followed, will improve your odds of emerging from that struggle with some exceptional imagery. This article consists of two pages – the first page deals with how to find an aurora and equip yourself to capture it properly, and page 2 will guide you through the remainder of the process, including camera settings, composition and advanced topics.

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