This is the first time I photographed the Northern Lights so I created this Aurora photo gallery with a collection of the best photos. Check out my previous post on photography gear and tips on capturing the Aurora borealis – ‘Revontulet’ in Finnish, meaning the ‘fox fires’.
I use Darktable to edit photos and used some styles as well as some basic adjustments. I’m not an expert in photo editing but I’m constantly learning. I want the photos to appear realistic and just adjusted the sharpness, saturation and reduced the noise in most of them. If you have any tips on how to improve these photos, feel free to drop a comment!
Seeing the Northern Lights is truly a magical experience because you really look forward to it and can only hope that you’re lucky enough to catch them as you make the journey up North. Aurora borealis form between 60 and 75 degrees North latitudes and that’s why Lapland is one of the best places on Earth to see it.
It’s an exciting, celestial event of ‘solar wind’ from our sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field, creating this dazzle in the Thermosphere layer of the Atmosphere. It’s basically the solar particles interacting with Oxygen and Nitrogen that results in the different colours.
We kept a check on the sky every now and then, while we were staying at the cottage in Pyhä. Days had been partly cloudy and occasionally cleared. It was important to keep going outdoors and checking the sky for any signs. Luckily, there was little light pollution around the cottage as the neighbours were away and the lights from the ski hill were turned out at night. If you have a car, it’s a good idea to drive further out and look for a non-lit area to view the auroras.
At first sight (increase the brightness of your screen if you can’t see it) :
We saw faint lines of green, easily visible with the eye. It was around 23:30. These were just the weak auroras starting to grow stronger. I had the camera on tripod ready already and just stood out after that. Here it gets better:
The slow moving line of auroras started to transform and almost disappeared at one point. We went in to warm up a bit and then outdoors again, a bit further away towards the frozen lake.
The new show was sudden and strong, as the green glimmered in the sky. I clicked some photographs with my Nikon D3500 at f/3.5 10mm 4-5 seconds, ISO 1600 and then stood back to see the colours fading away.
I wish I had clicked more photos with longer exposure times but sometimes it’s good to just observe with your own eyes. You can’t tell how long the auroras will stay. Remember that cameras see quite differently – you will have to see it for yourself to know this special experience. As for the processing of images, I feel a lot more editing can be done with the raw files.