How to take great photos of the Northern Lights


Sunday night will be Minnesotans' third chance to see one of nature's most spectacular light shows.

MINNEAPOLIS – The skies over Minnesota and much of the country lit up this weekend as the Northern Lights put on a spectacular display.

People from coast to coast, even across the pond, have enjoyed the stunning array of blues, purples and greens.

Sunday night, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted Minnesota would be able to see them again.

So if you're grabbing a camera and heading out to snap some photos, how can you ensure you get the best “bang for your buck” from these rare events?

use a tripod

According to National Geographic, if you plan on using a phone or camera, get a tripod. Typically, capturing the Northern Lights requires a long, steady shot and if you move even a little the shot may come out blurry.

Ideally, pair the tripod with a remote trigger or timer. Then you won't have to worry about any shock when you take the shot.

Try a wide-angle lens

If you're using a camera with a lens that you can change, use the widest angle lens possible. If you're using a really wide-angle this allows you to capture as much of the sky as possible from horizon to horizon.

If you're taking photos with a phone, hold it sideways to capture all the colors at the edges of the aurora.

Use 'Night Mode' with iPhone

If you're using an iPhone 13 or newer, you can simply go to your phone camera settings to turn on this low-light feature. You can then vary the exposure time to maximize the potential of your shot.

Access the hidden Settings menu in the iPhone's Camera app by tapping the top arrow. Locate the Night Mode icon and adjust the exposure time slider to the maximum, usually 30 seconds if you're using a tripod. This extended exposure time allows your iPhone to capture the full brightness of the Northern Lights.

Viewer Tammy Stephan Hornstein, who posted the photo associated with this article in the That's So Minnesota Facebook group, echoed all of these tips, including setting her camera to the highest ISO value when going out to capture the Northern Lights. Recommended.

RELATED: Here's where and when to see the Northern Lights in Minnesota

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