Published by: Lim Zi Yang
With reports telling us that the aurora is getting dimmer by the year, and it will only shine brightly again in 2 or 3 decades, many people are flying to the Northern Europe to catch a glimpse of the aurora before its gone. Its Holiday season too!! Our lenses are making trips to Europe more than ourselves. So, if you wish to capture some stunning aurora pictures for keepsake, below are some tips to shooting the aurora.
1) Use a Tripod
Shooting the aurora falls under the category of long exposure photography. So without a doubt, a tripod is needed. Do get yourself a strong and sturdy tripod. When shooting the aurora, I will not recommend the light weight carbon fibre tripod as you may encounter strong wind. If that’s the only tripod you have, be sure to either anchor the tripod properly, or weigh down the tripod.
Also, avoid raising your tripod too high. Keeping the centre of gravity low will help in the stability of the tripod.
Use either a wireless remote, or a wired remote, to trigger the you shutter. It’s a cheap investment and you should own one. Most remotes are also compatible with various model of cameras of the same brand, so it is “re-usable”.
If you do not a remote, you can turn use the camera’s built in self-timer. It allows time for the camera to stop shaking before opening the shutter. I will recommend using the longest timing to allow the camera more time to “stop-shaking” from whatever caused the movement.
3) Ultra-wide-angle lens
Shooting the aurora is considered as landscape photography. Therefore, most likely you will be looking at an ultrawide-angle lens for the shoot. However, this is not a must. Photography is freedom. You can use any lens you like, as long, as you feel the composition is right.
4) Fast aperture
For shooting the aurora, I will recommend that you bring along a lens with fast aperture, f2.8 and below. The purpose is to shoot at a fast shutter speed, as fast as possible. Although ironic, you are shooting at a “light-source” in the dark. Prolong exposure can cause over exposure and you end up with a white picture.
Turn your aperture to f2.8 to allow the maximum amount of light to reach the sensor.
5) High ISO
For the purpose of shooting at fast shutter speed, you will need to push up the ISO sensitivity of your camera also. However, do note that you should not exceed, or push beyond the native ISO capabilities of your camera. The noise will render the image un-usable.
6) Heater / warm pack
Not for the camera, but for you. Its cold up there you know? It can also be used to keep your batteries warm. Extreme cold weather can drastically decrease battery performance.