Get the perfect picture of the Northern Lights

May 19, 2024 By Blog Comments Off

Capture the perfect image

Camera settings are very important when you are trying to capture the perfect image of the the Northern Lights

Using the right camera settings is essential for achieving the perfect image as it ensures optimal exposure, focus, color accuracy, and composition. If you master these settings it will allow you to adapt to various conditions, capture your artistic vision of the objects, and produce high-quality, impactful photographs to share as your memories to your family and friends.

Capturing the Northern Lights on a crisp, clear night will become your lifelong favorite photo in your photo album.

Your camera settings.

Start by setting your camera to manual mode. Modern cameras have great automatic modes, but manual camera settings are a better fit for photographing the Northern Lights.

Set focus to infinity.

Set your focus on the farthest possible point, or “focus to infinity.” It’s best to set the focus during daylight and mark the correct lens position, instead of fumbling with your lens in the dark.

Use a wide aperture.

Open your camera’s aperture as wide as it will go (the lowest possible f-stop). This will ensure that the Northern Lights and the sky behind them are in focus instead of the surrounding environment.

Select a low shutter speed.

Use the lowest possible shutter speed. If the Aurora moves very slowly, you could use exposure times of up to 20 seconds. Adjust the setting downward if the lights move faster.

Set a high ISO value.

You will be photographing at night, so set your camera’s ISO value all the way to 2,000 or higher. You can go lower (around 800) if you’re lucky enough to catch an incredibly bright Aurora.

Set the white balance to automatic.

Take a test shot with automatic white balance and see how the photo looks. If it’s not that great, a good manual setting is a Kelvin value of around 3,500.


No Flash: Models like the iPhone 11 Pro and newer have Night mode.

Use it to adjust your exposure time (around 10-15 seconds) to capture the flow of the Northern Lights.


Enable night mode on your Android’s camera app. 

Adjust your ISO setting to 1600 and above (better for low light environments).

Ensure the white balance is set to around 3200K, which will help your image look more natural.

Enable a longer shutter speed and adjust it in accordance with aurora brightness.

Main image credited to Maps of Iceland