The Aurora. My arch nemesis. Living in the north of Cumbria, there is in theory, a chance of catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis when the conditions are right, however the frequent storms that come in from the Atlantic often curtail any trips to the nearby dark sky areas around the southern edge of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park.
Sometimes it happens, the sky is clear and the Aurora is singing and dancing in the night sky. Not that you would notice with the naked eye.
Fortunately cameras can capture the aurora better than the human eye. A long exposure – try 20 to 30 seconds and a high ISO – will help. Getting the colours right is the hardest part, but to start you off, set your white balance to Tungsten and shoot in RAW. Shooting in RAW will enable you to get the most out of your file and fine tune the colour balance to get the green and hopefully purple hues of the aurora in your final image.
Adding foreground interest is key to a great aurora photograph, so look for something that you could include. A passing place sign was used here and illuminated, perhaps a little too much, by the torch light on my phone for half the duration of the exposure.
Of course, to get an aurora picture you need to know when it is likely to be on show. There are Facebook groups, Twitter feeds and web sites dedicated to predicting the aurora and alerting as it is happening. Check out the following resources for guidance and help photographing the northern lights: