Northern Lights In The Yukon + Aurora Borealis Photography Tips From Pro 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 and I received a call that the Northern Lights were out. After scrambling around my room to collect my gear, I ran to where everyone else in my group was already shooting photos.
We set up shop by the Yukon River since it is best to take photos without city lights. Since I did not travel with a tripod, I rested my small mirrorless camera on a boulder. To be honest, 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.
My photo fluke of the Yukon’s aurora borealis
So that I can do better during future aurora borealis sitings and to help you, my reader, I enlisted my professional photographer friend Jeff Bartlett who teaches night photography courses all around the world!
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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 travelling 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: Dark Sky Photography Workshop
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**Disclaimer: Many thanks to Travel Yukon for their support. As always all opinions and views are my own. This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission.**