To ensure the best possible Aurora experience for you, we switch off our street lighting in Ylläs at 10 pm every night. We are, however, powerless to prevent cloudy weather...
You don’t need a camera to admire the Aurora Borealis, but if you do venture out under the Arctic skies with one, then be sure not to miss these expert tips presented by Markus Kiili:
1) Check the weather forecasts in advance. Markus recommends the following sites for Northern Lights forecasts: softservenews.com, spaceweather.com and noaa.gov. He also uses the FMI (Finnish Meteorological Institute) Aurora forecast site.
2) Use the manual settings in your camera. Shooting at night with automatic settings is almost impossible, because they’ll try to turn night into day...
3) Use a supportive tripod. Without one, long exposure times of several seconds and more will result in blurred photos.
4) Select raw image format for your shots. Raw format is easier to post-process than JPG. If the shots are too dark, it’s easier to ‘open up’ the shadows in raw images.
5) Be prepared for cold weather. Take a spare battery along and keep it in a warm place. I often keep mine inside a glove. When the battery starts to lose power, I’ll swap it for the fresh one, and warm up the first battery in the glove.
6) Look after your camera after coming back indoors. Put it back in its case or an airtight bag when you’re outside, then let it warm up gradually indoors. After bringing a camera in from a hard frost, moisture builds up and when that melts, there’s water inside your camera.
And finally the most common question of all: What settings should I try at first?
“That really depends on your camera if you want good results. Choose a high ISO rating and a wider lens, so that exposure time is as short as possible. For an average camera on an average night, you could start with ISO 3200, f3,5 aperture and a 15 second exposure time. If the camera lets you, select a higher ISO value, a smaller aperture and a shorter exposure time.”