How to Photograph the Northern Lights

By: Jamie Carter | Pulished on 2023-12-27

Identifying the Northern Lights

How to Photograph the Northern Lights-Trip AdviseFRANK OLSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Is it a cloud? Or is that a bucket-list busting borealis before your eyes?


Your camera is much more sensitive than your eyes, so if you think you see a diffuse grey-green glow on the northern horizon—known as the “forest fire”—but you're unsure, take an image with your camera to check. Even a feint display will look far greener on in a photo than what you actually witnessed. A raging display above your head is unmistakable.

Composing the shot

How to Photograph the Northern Lights-Trip Advise

You need foreground. Sure, point your camera—fitted with absolutely any lens—up at the sky and you'll get some Northern Lights.


However, only a wide-angle will get you an image that isn't just some green in the sky. Shots like these just look like green clouds.


A better option is to shoot a great landscape image of a hut, a boat, a lake, a mountain or a forest with the Northern Lights in the background. You may have to get “under” your subject and shoot up.

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