The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) form as a result of collision with atoms and molecules particles in our atmosphere when charged particles emitted from the sun during a solar flare penetrate the earth's magnetic shield.
This beautiful phenomenon with dancing illuminated colorful lights is by far the most amazing view I have ever seen, absolutely magical! This experience was in my bucket list and this trip had totally ticked it with unforgettable memories. Yes - Once in a life time experience!
How to take photo to capture Aurora Borealis/ Northern Light?
1. Make sure you set the camera with Manual Mode
2. Exposure Time: 20 Sec
3. Aperture: 3.5 or lower
4. ISO: 800
You can always adjust the setting accordingly when you are there.
Tips of taking good photos:
1. Bring your Tripod
Tripod provides the stability especially when the Aurora light is "dancing" - or constantly moving around. Despite all the advice from internet research, there are still tourists underestimated the importance of bringing a tripod to take awesome photos.
2. Remote Control
Places that we manage to find northern light are usually in the field that are dark hence the surface may not be as stable as we wanted it to be. In addition, it was so cold at night that our fingers were in the gloves to keep warm most of the time. It would be so much more convenient if you have a remote to control the camera. Without a remote control? Just set the timer to your desired time as an alternative.
3. Flash Light
Flash light is the key to take photos with Aurora Borealis. Without flash light, you are guaranteed to have a photo with shadows instead of yourself in it. The above photo is an example of the stone in front of the northern light. First, you get your camera ready with Tripod. Then use a flash light (it can be your phone's torch function) to flash at the human/ object for a second, and you are ready to press the shuttle function.
Tips: There are many tourists standing at different location to capture this amazing moment when you travel with groups or even in a popular country hotel, so make sure you find your perfect spot when you are there.
Do you not have the luck to look for the Northern Light or You are looking at the wrong direction?
We were tempted to visit Finland for the Glass Igloo to wait for the northern light but it is a very expensive accommodation with no guarantee of seeing the Northern Light. There are quite a few groups of my friends went but came back with NO northern light experience, they said "we didn't have the luck". Well, I thought I might as well spend the money to join a tour for the expert to "Chase it" rather than feel disappointed after spending so much money on the accommodation. Nothing is guaranteed but at least I wouldn't want to sit still for the "Luck" to decide on my experience.
Another group of friends came back from a 7 nights trip from Iceland and they chose to "Chase the Northern Light", yet came back with disappointment. WHY!? They said they rented a car and drove around Iceland with maps.... Alright, below are the possible reasons:
1. The Right Time
You will have to visit the destination with the right time - for example, to visit Iceland from Sep - Mar stands a stronger chance for the strong solar wind - the solar particles colliding in the atmosphere are the main cause of the northern lights.
2. Weather Condition
Cloudless, clear sky is the main requirement with the outside temperature being cold and dry. It is hard to get the weather forecast if you book your trip months before departure, so this will be luck!
3. Artificial Light
It means you need a dark sky to see the Aurora Borealis as clear as possible. It is relatively harder to have a clear Northern light view when you stay in Reykjavik town, there are building lights/ lights from houses/ commercial buildings/ street lights. You can choose to travel away from Reykjavik or stay overnight in a country hotel.
4. The Right Direction
There are apps or websites showing the chances and the visibility level of the Northern Light of the night, you can always download it. When we chased the northern light, the experienced tour guide had a radio walkie talkie to communicate with their expert colleagues. They drove towards the direction that detected strong sign of Aurora Borealis and we managed to witness those moments before it disappeared. Mind you that it could be just a few minutes for the moment and you have to wait for it to reappear. Chasing light with the right direction is an important factor - imagine if we drove to the opposite direction?
Stay overnight in a country hotel
I stayed in Reykjavik hotel throughout the trip but took a 2 days 1 night tour for the experience, it was one of the best decision for such a short trip. We stayed overnight in a country hotel after a long drive, the driver/guide was so tired that she couldn't take us to chase Northern Light that night - I was glad I chose joining a tour instead of self drive. We were told we might be able to find the aurora light without chasing it if we were lucky. I have to mention that was not a 3 - 5 stars hotels but Northern Light was what we after.
We didn't wait for too long, the stunning lights appeared and were dancing in the whole dark sky around the mountain! Oh my - we were all screaming with excitement and couldn't help but taking as many photos as possible. It was a cold night in Winter but many of us sat on the grass field and enjoyed the magical moment with such magnificent view.
What if you have tried everything but still have no luck?
If you really really really had tried your best to visit at the right time, right place and had done everything you could but still ... had no luck?
You still have an option - visit the Northern Lights Center in Reykjavik - Aurora Reykjavik.
I visited the Northern Lights Center on the first day, it was worth it with all the information you need and to enjoyed the video/ photos etc. I even bought a DVD with the record of amazing Northern Light videos as I do not have the skill to record such amazing phenomenon.
You may find a world map for the visitor to leave your pin to indicate which country do you come from, have you marked yours?
Iceland, a beautiful Nordic Island Nation that shows the Ice world with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava field and a popular location for Aurora Borealis / Northern Light.