Good DSLR Camera Settings for Photos of Aurora (Northern lights)?

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Good DSLR Camera Settings for Photos of Aurora (Northern lights)?

Are you looking to capture some breathtaking images of the Aurora or Northern Lights with your DSLR camera? If yes, then you first need to learn about the DSLR camera settings that would be ideal for taking such photos. The section below would educate you about those camera settings. Read on to know more.

Use the manual settings

Set both your camera and lens to manual and turn the Image Stabilization feature off. Also, turn off the Flash setting.

When capturing photos of the Northern lights, you should opt for manual settings. That’s primarily because aurora becomes visible only when the sky is dark and automatic settings are not known for producing great images when it’s dark. Use your camera’s automatic settings when photographing in daylight i.e. when your camera would be able to measure and sense its surrounding.

If you use Automatic settings when capturing images in Northern Light conditions, the device will keep zooming in and out without being able to focus. As a final attempt, the camera will then use its flash for reading the dark area and thus spoil the entire subject. To put it more bluntly, the flash would work as a light pollutant and wash the aurora out.

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Pick ISO setting

It would be a good idea to start with ISO 1600. For those who don’t know, a camera’s ISO setting controls the subject’s light sensitivity.

During the pre-digital era, photographers had to use different ISO films for different filming situations. For instance, ISO 100 (or even a lower ISO) was used during sunny days, while cloudy days required photographers to use ISO 200 to ISO 400.

With the DSLRs the changes can be done just with a click of a button. The higher would be your ISO, the less would be the light required for developing a picture. However, it’s important to keep in mind that higher ISO often brings in lower quality. However, a good DSLR camera should produce great captures at ISO 1600 or more.

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Use the right aperture or f-number

Pick the lowest available f-number, which is usually f-2.8.

Your camera’s f-stop or aperture (f-5.6, f-4, f-2.8 etc.) would tell how widely the lens has been opened. In other words, it would represent the size of lens opening through which light is entering the camera. Here, it must be noted that the lower would be the f-number the bigger would be the opening. And for perfect aurora photography, you would need the biggest possible opening. That’s because by letting maximum light in you can keep your camera’s shutter speed low and capture the desired shot quickly. The quicker you would capture your shot, the higher would be your chances of getting a detailed image of the Northern Lights.

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Pick the right shutter speed

Start with 20 seconds.

The shutter speed of a camera represents the subject’s exposure time. It would tell you how long your lens remains open and absorbs light. You will have to keep changing your camera’s shutter speed as Northern Lights’ intensity varies from time to time. In case of soft lights, keep the shutter speed between 15 and 30 seconds. In case for strong lights, maintain a shutter speed of 1 to 6 seconds.

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Carry a tripod with you

Mounting the camera on the tripod when capturing the image of the Northern Lights would increase your chances of getting the desired result.

This kind of photography might require you to remain still for as many as 30 seconds (or even more than that). The job is not easy, especially if it’s a windy day. Using a tripod would stop your camera from moving and eliminate the chances of capturing blur images.

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Release the shutter remotely

You can use an app (many high-end cameras allow users to operate via apps), a remote control (this is the best possible option), or switch the camera’s self-timer on and set it to two seconds. This is important for eliminating any possibilities of shaking the camera when the shutter is finally released. As you know, if the camera is shaken, your photos might come out blurred.

To conclude, we would like to tell you to keep your camera ready with the right settings on when trying to capture images of Northern Lights. That’s vital as the right photographing opportunity usually comes without any notice.

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