Capturing the Northern Lights with a D5100

Started Jan 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
capanikon Senior Member • Posts: 2,088
Re: Capturing the Northern Lights with a D5100

I haven't shot an aurora since about 2000. But when I did it was with a now-ancient but then-high-tech Nikon D1. A tripod or some other way of stabilizing the camera is ESSENTIAL as you will likely be making an exposure that is several seconds long. If you don't have a tripod you can balance the camera on a rock or other sturdy object, and use small items such as small rocks to place under the camera and angle as required. Use a remote release or self timer so you do not jiggle the camera when you press the shutter button.

I'd shoot in manual mode. Experiementation will probably be necessary. Start with 30 seconds on the shutter speed, set the aperture wide-open, focus at infinity, and ISO 400. Take that shot, see how it turns out, then adjust as required.

If the aurora is too dark with those settings you may have to put the camera on "bulb" mode and use an exposure longer than 30 seconds. You'll need a remote for this. And/or you can raise the ISO to 800 or 1600 or 3200 as required. Try and use the lowest ISO as possible of course for best image quality.

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