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Settings For Photographing The Aurora

edited October 2012 Posted in » Nikon Lens Talk
Hi guys,

After taking advice I have bought a Nikon D3100 with a 18-55mm lens.
I am a total noob to cameras like these, and while it will work great when I need it to as a point and shoot I need guidance with taking photos of the Aurora Borealis.

I am attempting to find out in basic terms what settings I should use to get good images. I know you guys on here are experts and will probably change a million and one different setting with each shoot to get the perfect picture, but I on the other hand lack skills.

Thank you for any help you can give me.



  • edited October 2012
    @sut - Hi Anthony, welcome to the world of photography. I do not have a Nikon, so I can't talk you through the setting up of your camera, but I can give you some settings that will get you where you want to go.

    To catch the Northern Light you are going to want to open your lens aperture as big as it will go. Look at it like this; the smaller the aperture number the bigger the opening and the more light comes in. The higher the number the smaller the opening thus the less light comes in. So open your aperture as wide open as you can.

    Next look at shutter speed. This tells the camera how long to let light come into the camera. Too long and you will have a blurry photo or a photo that is to bright. Too fast and the photo will be too dark, even black. Look at starting with a shutter speed of 1/200. You might have to tweak it some but that should get something you can see on your screen.

    You might have to adjust your ISO to get the shutter speed you need. ISO is what tells the camera how sensitive the image sensor needs to be. Start around 800.

    For you to get really sharp photos you are going to need a tripod. This will hold the camera much more stationary than you can with your hands. And if you do not have a remote shutter release, look in your manual and find out how to use the self timer. Setting this gets your hand off to eleminate even the possibility of you bumping the camera while pushing the shutter button.

    Well this should get you heading in the right direction. We look forward to hearing how it turned out.

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