A Guide To: Shooting The Aurora

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, Magic Spectacle or simply, whatever other names we have given to this stunning natural display. However, do we have what it takes to capture this phenomenon? Lee Pengelly leads on

‘It is the season’ – no not Christmas – but Aurora season, when hardy nocturnal landscape photographers seek out wild locations, standing in sub-zero temperatures waiting for that magical green swish to appear.

Shooting the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is very exciting. Officially I am now addicted to capturing this natural phenomenon, but it is not the easiest subject, nor do you get the easiest conditions in which to shoot. Forget warm, comfortable shoots where everything slots into place; this is a test both of skill, patience, and surviving the cold. Get it right, stick it out and you will be rewarded with exciting experiences and surreal images.

What is the Aurora Borealis exactly? In a nutshell it is a natural light display caused by the collision in the high altitude atmosphere of energetically charged particles with atoms. The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind, and, on the earth, are directed by the earth’s magnetic field into the atmosphere, or, as I prefer to explain, “strange lights in the sky”. It truly is a surreal experience. I have witnessed the “lights” where they appear close enough to reach out and touch, and on occasions I’m certain I could hear them, although that was probably due to lack of…

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