Seeing Northern Lights In The Yukon & Helpful Tips From Photographer Jeff Bartlett
Last summer I experienced one of my biggest travel dreams when I saw the Northern Lights in Dawson City, Yukon. It was a big surprise because I was told not to expect them due to long summer days and very few hours of darkness. My travel group and I had just come back to our hotel after a fun night at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall. I had stumbled home after a few drinks and then received a call that the Northern Lights were out. I quickly scrambled to collect my gear and ran out to where everyone else was shooting photos.
We went down to the River (Yukon River) to shoot photos. I did not travel with a tripod so I rested my small mirrorless camera on a boulder. I will be honest and I do not know much about photography so I was just taking a big stab in the dark and also admiring this gift of nature at the same time. Luckily I was able to take a few amateur photos.
DON’T FORGET TO VISIT SOME OF MY OTHER POSTS:
- For more of my travel tips and destination guides
- Fort Selkirk Yukon: A Flightseeing Tour Photo Diary From This Historic Site
- How To Spend 24 Hours In Whitehorse
- Carcross: A Must Visit Day Trip From Whitehorse, Yukon
- White Pass And Yukon Route Railway: A Scenic Yukon Rail Experience
- Tombstone Territorial Park: An Other-Worldly Yukon Wild Experience
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This is my photo. It was a real fluke and heavily edited because I don’t know what I’m doing.
5 Tips From Photographer Jeff Bartlett For Photographing The Northern Lights
1. Bring the right gear: you’ll need three pieces of gear to successfully photograph the northern lights:
- a DSLR or mirrorless camera with full manual control.
- A fast aperture wide angle lens, ideally between 14-24 mm and f1.4 and f2.8 apertures.
- A tripod used to keep the camera steady during long exposures.
2. Use the right camera settings:
I always recommend these camera settings as the ideal starting point:
- ISO 1600-3200
- Shutter: 2-5 seconds
- Aperture: f1.4 to f2.8
3. Re-learn how to focus:
4. Go at the right time:
The northern lights occur year round and Kp storms can happen at any hour of the day. We just can’t see them if it’s too light outside, so planning is an important step to consider.
Summer isn’t ideal, as the nights are too short – or non-existent – depending on how far north you travel. I always recommend following the calendar and traveling between the equinoxes – Sept 21 to March 21.
5. Go to the right places:
If you are interested in learning more about photography, be sure to check out Jeff’s website here or his awesome Instagram here. He puts on photography workshops in different locations and he just so happens to be doing a dark sky photography workshop this October in Northern Alberta.
for more info: Canadian Rockies Dark Sky Photography Workshop
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**Disclaimer: Many thanks to Travel Yukon for the experience in Dawson. As always all opinions and views are my own.**