North­ern ex­po­sure

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Stock set­tings

Us­ing a tri­pod, set the cam­era to Man­ual mode and use a wide aper­ture like f/4 or f/2.8, and a fairly high ISO like 800. To begin with set a shut­ter speed of 10 sec­onds. Then sim­ply vary the shut­ter speed or ISO un­til the ex­po­sure looks cor­rect.

3 Min­i­mize shake

The act of press­ing the shut­ter but­ton can lead to cam­era shake (al­though the ef­fect is min­i­mal the longer the ex­po­sure is). To be safe, use a ca­ble re­lease, en­gage your Nikon’s self-timer or en­able the handy Ex­po­sure De­lay Mode in your cam­era’s menu.

5 Look to the moon

If there’s lit­tle or no moon­light the aurora will show up more clearly in the sky. How­ever, it also means the fore­ground is likely to be dark and lack­ing de­tail. A bright full moon will make the dis­play less vi­brant, but it’ll also al­low you to cap­ture land­scapes in greater de­tail.

2 Watch your length

For fast-mov­ing aurora, an ex­po­sure length more than 10 sec­onds may blur out de­tail like this. If so, speed up the shut­ter and in­crease the ISO to 1600 or more. If it’s mov­ing slowly you’re free to lengthen your shut­ter speed and lower the ISO for bet­ter im­age qual­ity.

4 Fo­cus­ing

Fo­cus­ing can be a chal­lenge, es­pe­cially with a wide aper­ture. If there’s a vis­i­ble ob­ject in the dis­tance then try fo­cus­ing on it by us­ing Live View to zoom in. If not, then try fo­cus­ing on the stars or moon. Al­ter­na­tively, make a guess by set­ting your fo­cus ring near to in­fin­ity.

6 Keep shoot­ing

Keep shoot­ing for as long as the lights are vis­i­ble. The pat­terns can change rapidly, so one mo­ment might look more in­ter­est­ing than an­other, and you never know if they’ll ap­pear again. If you have a sec­ond cam­era use it for a time-lapse or to try a dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tion.

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