Here's a quick check list that will help you in your preparations for your own Northern Light photography.
A fast lens is ideal for all night photography. Every camera lens is rated by its maximum aperture setting. A larger aperture allows more light to enter the camera and gives you more flexibility with your shutter speed and exposure. A lens speed of f4 is okay, f2.8 is good, f2 and faster is best.
A focus lock is great for fixing your focal length to hyper focal distance to ensure maximum depth of field, especially on cold nights when its better to keep your hands warm in your gloves than on the cold barrel of your lens.
A range of focal lengths is ideal to capture both wide angle landscapes and the beauty of the lights close-up..
A tripod is essential to ensure your images are pinpoint sharp even on the longest exposures. The head controls should be easy to adjust as your hands will usually be warming up in gloves or mittens.
Aluminium tripod legs are colder than carbon fibre legs. However, leg wraps are useful for distancing your hands from the cold surface of the tripod. .
Other essential gear
Remote shutter release, head torch, dress for extreme cold, a hot drink.
An easy to use remote shutter release provides a number of benefits. It removes the risk of camera shake, your hands stay warm in your gloves, and you are free to wander from your camera and into the picture.
A head torch provides hands free illumination. It can also be used as a light source to give you more compositional choices with your foreground.
The Northern Lights are a random event, which occur all year round. You just need darkness to view them. Hence, in the Arctic, aurora activity is visible from late September to April, when darkness falls on the landscape.
Aurora activity is constantly monitored across Finland. Hourly updates reveal recent activity. However, the most common obstruction to successful Northern Light photography is excessive cloud cover. Keep a close eye on regional weather forecasts to help identify your best locations.
Photographing the Northern Lights is a bit like fishing. Sometimes, despite all the best preparation, you just can't get a bite. Patience and an enjoyment of the outdoors can help in your quest. Thankfully, this is not hard within the beauty of the Arctic environment. And there are many alternative activities and experiences to be found in the Arctic. We provide you with many options to fill your day when the lights aren't showing.