Backpacking Limestone Lakes in Height of the Rockies

Limestone lakes in Height of the Rockies Provincial park is without a doubt one of the most incredible backcountry venues I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.

Limestone lakes in Height of the Rockies Provincial park is without a doubt one of the most incredible backcountry venues I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It’s remote and difficult to get to location also keeps the flocks of tourist and backcountry users at bay. For good reason, route finding and proficient gps experience is required. Moreover, it’s prime grizzly country. I experienced my worst bear encounter on this trip.

On day one we followed a trail about 10km to our first cowboy camp. The trail runs parallel along the adjacent river most of the way up the valley. Then second day we ascended above the tree line. There’s an option to navigate around a large ridge line, but w-e opted to gain the ridge and then loose elevation on the other side. We thought the views might be worth it, and we were rewarded for our optimism.

After a full second day of bushwhacking and navigating limestone cliffs, we finally arrived at the stunning lookout above Limestone Lakes.

We spent another two nights at Limestone Lakes. The extra time and lighter packs afforded us the opportunity to explore the area a little more. We spend much of the third day swimming in the lake and enjoying the sun. We lucked out with weather, there was hardly a cloud in the sky the entire trip. The fourth day we hiked back out of the alpine lakes area and descended back into the valley below. We opted to go around the ridge climb, saving our legs for the 25km trek back to our vehicle.

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson.

Is Travel Photography dead? What I’m Doing About It

International travel is partially reopened. Depending on where you travel from and where you travel to, you probably have to quarantine when you arrive at your destination, as well as when you arrive home. 28 days of being stuck indoors is probably not an option for most travel photographers like me. So where does that leave us if this the new temporary normal?

Doubling down locally

This is probably a no brainer. However, there’s a good chance that before 2020, travel photographer were probably getting paid by companies of all kinds to fly into your hometown and photograph your stomping grounds. Why should a local business go through all the trouble of paying for flights, accommodations, food allowance, car rentals etc. when they could hire a local photographer?

Of course, if you’re used to excitement of world travel and epic destinations, this might sound like a drag. But one day, you might be happy you grew your local client community. Just imagine if you already had half of your business from local vendors rather than all of your business all over the world. You’d probably be pretty thankful!

The industry will change for a long time, maybe forever

Read that again. Things are different now. I do think that vendors all around the world will rebound and need media assets once again. I just think it’s going to manifest a lot differently than before.

Is that really such a bad thing though? I think most travel photographers are guilty of not having explored their own backyards enough. We’re always thinking of the next great destination. The next unbelievable travel experience. What if you didn’t really have to travel all the way to Asia, or Europe, or the Middle East to have life changing experiences?

How much time have you really invested in your own country? You can maximize this and see it as an opportunity to re-imagine what’s possible in your own nation. Ultimately, one day the boarders will open up, quarantines will be a distant bad memory. You’ll be able to enjoy a new country, but will you look back and be proud of how you pivoted? Will you be content with your creative efforts to try new things and overcome adversity?

I know I might not do everything right. And so far I’ve fallen on my face a lot this year. I know I’ll look back and know that I’ve tried and exhausted every last creative idea I had .

It might be time for that career switch after all

If you’ve been stuck in the travel bubble for a while now, what do you think about your lifestyle after being forced to slow down and be in one space for a while? Is traveling all the time really as great as you thought it would be? Or is the change of pace a blessing in disguise?

Travel photographers are some of the hardest working people I’ve met. We almost never sleep, and navigating airports and strange cities where no one speaks your language can really take a toll on you when you’re simply trying to do your job.

Perhaps there’s other avenues of commercial photography that you’ve never explored that you may find just as rewarding, if not more. Maybe there’s a way to better balance travel and work while still making a livable wage without all of the chaos of constantly being on the road.

You may be reading this and already know that you prefer the fast pace, high stress, quick turn-around lifestyle. That’s totally cool! Me too. I’m just learning that I also enjoy it from the comfort of my home occasionally as well.

Sometimes surviving is winning

Let’s face it. Unless you’re already a billionaire, you’re probably not getting rich this year. The thing is, if you can survive this time and be ready to pounce on opportunities once they eventually present themselves, you’ll be way ahead of the competition. A lot of people are going to be forced to tap out. If you can just survive this period of time, refine your skills, strengthen your ability to be patient, you’ll win in the long run.

This is where I think a lot of travel photographers will do well. Generally speaking, our overhead is very low. We travel too often to have an office. We likely don’t have many employees – I contract much of my work. We’re also extremely adaptable. It’s the nature of the job to thrive in uncertainty.

It’s time to dust off those old hard-drives and let you old photos make money for you

If you haven’t already invested some time into growing your stock photography library, now is probably the best time in your career. Instead of having tens of thousands of old photos sit on your hard-drives where they aren’t doing anything for your bottom line, it’s time to put them to work.

The pain with stock photography is that it takes a lot of time. Once you get to the point where you’re basically just adding shoot by shoot, it’s fairly low maintenance. The initial setup of going through your old images and selecting photos through thousands and thousands files can be time consuming. I can’t think of a better time.

My stock sales have increased about 50% since March. It’s still hit and miss but I believe stock photo sales will increase greatly by the end of this year and leading into next summer. There’s a really good chance a lot of people will be relying on stock photos to write blogs and post filler content on their pages. You don’t want to miss out on a huge potential surge of stock sales, you’ve already done the hard work of creating the photos. Now you just need to post them for sale!

Outdoor recreation is larger now than ever

People have been thriving outside. The mountains near my home have been busier this year than any other summer I can remember. People are just happy to be outside and exploring new trails and engaging with their friends in a safe environment where viruses are unlikely to spread effectively. That means there’s more new photographers than ever heading into the outdoors.

Are you taking advantage of creating helpful articles, creating courses, teaching? These new photographers are going to need to learn from somebody somewhere. Why not you? If you think you have a lot of experience and wisdom to share, why not invest some time into helping the emerging younger community grow in this time as well. It’s not just good karma, it’s good business karma.

One day you might be hiring a new assistant, or contracting more jobs, maybe you’ll be selling a new course bundle. You’ll benefit from investing into your community if you are intentional about it. Someone might even thank you!

Social media

I personally don’t like social media. It can be a huge time suck and it’s clearly awful for mental health. That’s why I spend most of my time of this blog instead of scrolling on social media. That said, it is a powerful tool. It’s a huge lead generator for a lot of people and businesses. Chances are if you’re a travel photographer, you probably have a pretty good handle on how to use social media.

A lot of companies are looking for social media managers and people who can help get organic engagement. I have had many existing photography clients happy to have me manage and grow their social accounts such as Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. I’ve spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of those platforms for my own business. Why not help grow someone else’s business? The benefit of course is that it’s all completely remote.

Have a little faith

At the end of the day, things have to get better. Some resemblance of normality has to eventually work its’ way back into our lives someday. You can either choose to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and plan for it. Or you can succumb to the overwhelming darkness and just give up. The choice is obvious. Have a little faith, choose to believe things will be alright, the just might be.

This Camera Bag is a Chameleon Adapting to All My Adventures

This shapeshifting camera backpack can adapt to almost every adventure, no matter what I’m shooting or where.

I’m not much of a gear head. Some people love talking about gear. That’s totally fine it’s just not usually a huge talking point for me. Here’s why.

If I’m fixated on the gear I’m using and the equipment I do or don’t have with me, I’m probably not as focussed as I should be on creating. Thats why, for me, the perfect piece of gear is something you don’t have to think about at all. Something that adapts to you, your adventures, and your environment.

I’ve had the F-Stop Ajna 40L Camera Bag for about 7 months now. In the Rockies, that’s all 4 seasons ha! I’ve used it as my primary camera bag in a variety of settings. From glaciers in the dead of winter, to valleys in the middle of summer. I’ve used the Ajna camera bag on photo commissions, and video commissions.

My loadout is always changing from shoot to shoot. Depending on the primary goal, the trip type, the weather, the season, etc. I can think of almost no scenario where the Ajna wouldn’t thrive.

What’s in the Bag?

Camera Equipment

On a typical photo/video shoot I usually have two full frame camera bodies, a 35mm 2.8 prime. A 24-70 f2.8, a wide angle f4. Mavic 2 Pro. Ten spare batteries. A spare mavic battery. Two GoPros. a Rode shotgun mic. A Rode LAV set, and miscellaneous camera accessories like tape, cleaning supplies, microfibre cloths.

Outdoor Equiptment

On any given shoot, I will always carry a lightweight Gore-tex rain shell, and a down puffy. Weather is unpredictable and a rain jacket and insulation might be the only thing keeping you alive in an emergency.

I also always have lightweight gloves, two buffs, and a light wool touque. This might vary depending on the location or season. However I always include this when I’m home in the Rockies. It can be 30 degrees in the valley and 0 degrees on the mountain.

10 Tips For Shooting Into The Sun For Dramatic Images

In addition to that, I also have a first aid kit with essentials. Emergency gear repair kit. A small foam seat-pad (luxury among mountain people). Snacks or meals depending on my expected time out. 2-4L of water. As well as a map, compass, and emergency communications device.

Variations

Variations to this, or add-ons might include helmets, rope, a tent, hiking poles etc. This all really depends on the specific kind of shoot, and what I’m shooting.

What’s great about the Ajna camera bag is that I don’t have to have one bag just for climbing, another bag for snowshoeing, another one for backpacking, I can just change the way I load the straps gear straps and the bag just adapts to whatever it is I’m doing.

Limitations

The only limitations I can imagine for the Ajna – yet haven’t personally experienced – is the load capacity for multi-day winter objectives like ski-mountaineering, winter backpacking trips, or anything involving the need to carry winter camping equipment and winter layers.

In my experience, I wouldn’t ever be able to have all of my camera equipment and all of the extra insulation and camping gear fit into 40L. I would probably need something closer to 80L (mind you, I would only use about 70L of 80L – I prefer to have extra room for ease of access).

Visit my gallery to purchase prints and help support this blog

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson.

Crossing Iceland: Tune into iRun Radio

Ryan chats with iRun Radio and Mark Sutcliffe from iRun Magazine about our recent trek across Iceland. Mark is curious about training, nutrition, and what’s next!

Ryan chats with iRun Radio and Mark Sutcliffe from iRun Magazine about our recent trek across Iceland. Mark is curious about training, nutrition, and what’s next!

Thanks for tuning in to learn more about our trek across Iceland. If you have questions of your own, let us know in the comments below!

For more podcasts on all things running, be sure to checkout iRun Radio.

Crossing Iceland: Previsions, Revisions, and Decisions

5 Outdoor Photography Mistakes Beginners Make

Sometimes, the most effective way to rewire a photographers thinking, is by starting with “what not to do”. Working backwards from zero. Here are 5 outdoor photography mistakes beginners make.

Sometimes, the most effective way to rewire a photographers thinking, is by starting with “what not to do”. Working backwards from zero. Here are 5 outdoor photography mistakes beginners make.

Where is the Subject.

Canyon at sunset.

It’s often difficult to tell what the subject is. Clearly define what the viewer should be looking at, and engaging with. The outdoors provide an endless variety of possible subjects. Trees, mountains, lakes, athletes, wildlife, etc. Show the viewer exactly what they should be looking at, guide their eye.

It’s very important to use leading lines, soft depth of field. Perhaps try using grass or trees as foreground. Another helpful way to isolate your subject is with framing. Sometimes it’s as simple as placing some flowers and branches around the edges of your frame.

It’s a Matter of Perspective.

Dried river bed.

Chances are, if you’re taking your photo while standing at eye level, the shot has been taken before. Create something unique by changing your perspective. Climb on a rock, climb a tree, stand on the roof of your car. Alternatively, get low. Get on your back and point your camera up. Try this, getting below your subject. Create images that people don’t see every single day.

https://lifeoutsideonline.com/2018/10/15/setbacks-suck-but-your-images-dont-have-to/

You Only Have One Light Source, Use it.

Joshua Tree sunset.

If you’re shooting in the great outdoors. You definitely don’t have the luxury of controlling light. Considering you are probably in remote places. Maybe you’re backpacking or camping. You only have one light source, the sun.

Use this to your advantage. Try to shoot in low light situations, right before and after sunrise, and sunset. Learn astrophotography and shoot late at night. If you can help it, avoid timing your photo shoots between 9am and 5pm.

Great Photo, What’s the Story.

Man fastening rope.

Beginners and pros alike share this mistake. Taking a visually compelling image is just a small part of what makes a great photo. What are you trying to say with your photos? What’s the underlining theme. Does the photo tell a bigger story. Is it just a pretty picture or are you using the photo as a tool, to tell a story or share an experience or moment in time?

Take one scroll on Instagram and you’ll see tons of “great” visually compelling photos. A lot of those “great” photos are just the low hanging fruit. The obvious shot. Anyone can point and shoot at glacier point in Yosemite, or prop a pretty blonde in front of a waterfall in Iceland. But the photos with heart, feeling, power. Those are much harder to come by. Find your voice, and photograph with purpose, direction, and intention.

It’s Not About the Tools, It’s how You Use the Tools.

Woman taking photo in desert.

Beginners often feel as though they outgrow their kit lens and starter camera long before they really do. It’s okay to want nice things, and eventually the investment of new gear, sharp glass and a full frame camera will be very important. However, don’t ever be so discouraged by your current set-up that you don’t even bother to go out and shoot.

Reality is, the more practice you have making great outdoor photos with shittier equipment, the more successful you’ll be at creating even more epic photos when you finally make that upgrade. Truth is, you shouldn’t ever let gear be an excuse, find a way to to make it work.

What are some mistakes you find yourself trying to overcome?

Download this article here for offline reference on your next outdoor photography adventure.

All Photos by Life Outside Studio Photographers Ryan and Hailey.

8 Outdoor Photographers You Should be Following

Here are 8 outdoor photographers you should be following, photographers that provoke questions like “Where in the world is this?”, “How was this captured!”.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably always keep an eye out for inspiring images that provoke questions like; “How the hell did she take this?”, “Where in the world is this?”, “Why have I never seen this before?”. Here are 8 outdoor photographers you should be following, photographers that provoke those questions.

Zach Baranowski

Zach Baranowski is a breath of fresh air when scrolling through your feed in search of outdoor photography inspiration. The ever popular “moody” or “doom and gloom” vibe that is massively popular on social media can be such a drag. Zach’s approach to his nature photography is intentionally warm, vibrant, and hopeful. Zach’s photography is the solution to everything wrong that you’re seeing on Instagram right now.

Instagram Feed.

Alex Buisse

Alex Buisse manages to make me ask this question to myself every single day… “Why I’m not living in Chamonix, France”? Alex’s adventures in the mountains around Chamonix are seriously intense. The coolest part about his day to day adventures are the epic photos that he manages to capture along the way. Alex’s outdoor photography will have you booking a flight to Chamonix, France in no time.

Instagram feed.

Tim Banfield

Tim Bandfield’s photos have the ability to transport you through time and space. Placing you right in the middle of the action, at the precise moment in time where he pressed the shutter release of his camera. Tim is not only an incredibly talented photographer. He’s also a strong athlete who actively participates in the activities that he’s shooting. It’s not enough to be an observer. Tim really throws himself into the middle of the chaos, and refuses to put his camera away when conditions get tough. Tim Banfield is an outdoor photographer you should be following.

Instagram feed.

Myke Hermsmeyer

If you’ve ever picked up an Outside Magazine, Trail Runner Mag, or if you follow basically any pro ultra-runner, chances are, you’ve seen Myke Hermsmeyer’s outdoor photography. Myke manages to make “event coverage” look like a million dollar commercial photoshoot. Myke’s ability to cover realtime events in extremely inhospitable environments is seriously impressive.

instagram feed.

Ian Corless

Sometimes photographers wish they could be a “fly on the wall”. This isn’t the case for Ian Corless. Ian would rather run up a mountain, and throw himself right into the middle of the action. Ian’s unique understanding and experience in the sport that he shoots, gives him unparalleled insight. That insight, combined with his vision, creates absolutely stunning imagery.

Read: Ian Corless Getting the Shot

Jeff Skalla

I just discovered Jeff Skalla, and I’m really stoked about it. I’ve been binging on his photos, wishing that I was back in Utah! Most of Jeff’s work features athletes bouldering all over beautiful landscapes in the South-west. I really like how Jeff posts his RAW images beside his final images. It’s really a unique look behind the lens. The original RAW photos reveal a “behind-the-scenes” perspective into what Jeff was seeing when he created the photos.

Mathis Dumas

Mathis Dumas is badass. He’s often summiting massive peaks and flying off mountains, I mean, literally flying off of them. Dumas has a really well rounded mix of beautiful mountain portraits, intense high action adventure shots, and really surreal “in-between” moments. The in-between moments that Mathis captures in his outdoor photography are among my favourite photos.

Instagram feed.

Philipp Reiter

Philipp Reiter, making adventures in the mountains fun again. Reiter is an ultra-runner turned photographer. Philipp seems to have just as much fun running the races, as he does photographing them. However, As the seasons change in the mountains, the sports that Reiter shoots inevitably do as well; running, turns into skiing. No matter the sport though, Philipp always manages to capture moments in the outdoors beautifully.

Read: Philipp Retier Getting the Shot.

Who are some other outdoor photographers that make you want to grab your camera and throw yourself at the outdoors? Let us know below!

Sedona’s Best Running Trails

It’s no secret that Sedona is a trail runners’ paradise. There are countless trails within minutes from town. Here’s a list of Sedona’s best running trails.

It’s no secret that Sedona’s running trails make this oasis a runners paradise. There are practically countless running trails just within a few minutes of town. It’s almost overwhelming to pick a running running trails in Sedona. So here’s a simple list of Sedona’s best running trails.

Soldiers Pass.

Couple running in desert.

Distance: 6.6 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 189m
Type: Out and back
Time: 1-2 hours

Soldiers pass trail is said to be about as heavily trafficked as Devil’s Bridge or Cathedral Rock trail. however, there was no body on the trail the day I ran it. Therefore, Solider pass trail became one of my all time favourite running trails in the area. Soldier Pass has a very gradual elevation gain from about midway to the top of the pass. The views are spectacular practically the entire time. Soldier Pass is one of the most all around scenic hikes in the area.

https://lifeoutsideonline.com/2018/07/09/epic-trail-running/

Cathedral Rock.

Female runner on mountain.

Distance: 1.9 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 227m
Type: Out and back
Time: 1 hour

Cathedral rock is the busiest of the bunch. However, the hundreds of tourists can’t all be wrong. It’s one of the most thrilling and scenic trails in the entire area. The entire trail will have you running up slabs of steep red rock. The only thing better than running up this trail is running back down. Once you reach the saddle at the top, follow the trail left to get a secret view, pictured above.

Devil’s Bridge Trail.

Couple runs on natural bridge.

Distance: 6.8 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 172m
Type: Out and back
Time: 1-2 hours

Devil’s Bridge Trail is a popular trail just a few minutes from town. The trail is pleasant, and mostly flat until you start the short climb near the end before you reach the natural bridge, known as Devil’s Bridge. It’s worth a quick photo before you make your way back the way you came. Some of the best views are enjoyed on the way back down.

Doe Mountain.

Hot air balloon over mountain.

Distance: 1.9 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 130m
Type: Out and back
Time: 45-60 minutes

Doe Mountain is shares a parking lot with Bear Mountain. The two mountains face each other across the street. Doe Mountain is more of a butte or a plateau. The initial climb is steep, there are switchbacks the entire way up. Once you’ve reached the top of the plateau you can enjoy views from all over Sedona. There are foot paths through the bushes that will bring you to many different scenic lookouts.

Bear Mountain.

Woman hiker standing on mountain.

Distance: 6.9 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 600m
Type: Out and back
Time: 2.5-4 hours

Not for the faint of heart. Bear can be a slog in the hot and dry. I recommend starting this one early. However, an early morning start will give you plenty of shade for the first hour. The views come and go on this trail. Occasionally opening up to the beautiful valley below. After the first kilometer approaching the base of the ascent, the climbing is pretty aggressive but very enjoyable. The views from the top are breathtaking! Budget extra time to soak it all in.

Capitol Butte.

Man Running in desert.

Distance: 4.2 Kilometers
Elevation Gain: 545m
Type: Out and back
Time: 2.5-3 hours

Capitol Butte is almost a bushwhack more than it is a typical Sedona running trail. If you’re like me though, sometimes that’s part of the fun. Be prepared to lose some time on navigating. I would only recommend this to savvy runners or hikers. Proceed with caution, this one get’s scrambly!

There’s more than just running in this beautifully scenic town.

If you have the opportunity to visit Sedona’s running trails. Make sure to budget some extra time to enjoy the local the rest of what the area has to offer. Sedona has a lot of adventurous activities to participate in. However, it can be hard to find good information. We’ve got you covered! Read more here.

Did we miss any of Sedona’s best running trails on our list? Let us know your favourites below in the comments!

All images by Life Outside Studio Photographers Ryan Richardson and Hailey Playfair.

Taking Pro Northern Lights Photos

A lot of practice, trial and error has gone into this tutorial on how to photograph the northern lights. This, more than any other long exposure photography is the most difficult to master.

A lot of practice, trial and error has gone into this tutorial on how to photograph the northern lights. Taking pro northern lights photos is difficult to master. More difficult than any other kind of long exposure photography. Here are some tips to give you all possible chances for success.

It’s so much more than just photography that you have to worry about

Simply getting to the right place is a logistical challenge when planning to photograph the northern lights. Photographing the northern lights isn’t like photographing sunset at a popular landscape destination like Moraine Lake, or Moon Bells. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. Speaking of polars. You need to be close to the polars just to get a chance to seeing them! Either the south pole, or the north pole. 

The only other photography that requires the same dedication, and patience as northern lights, is wildlife photography. Almost the same amount of planning, and patience is required. Many nights spent out in the cold will have you staying up late, and going to bed unsuccessful. However, it only take one great northern lights photo to make it all worth it!

Preparation is the Key to Taking Pro Northern Lights Photos

As with all photography, preparation is 90% of the work. Or at least it should be. Preparing for you photography scenario is like studying for a test. You can put it off, and procrastinate until the night before, and you might even do OK, but you don’t want an “OK” photo, you want a great one, so get serious about preparation. 

There are so many variables with outdoor photography, control the things you can. Prepare for the things that you can’t. The best way to do that, is to stack the cards in your favour. The odds of getting great northern lights photos is low, even if all the conditions magically come together. So do everything that you can to put yourself in the right place. 

Being in the auroral zone

Aurora Forecast.

The auroral zone is usually about 3 – 6 degrees wide (around 3,000 – 6,000 kilometers). This zone in usually anywhere between 10 – 20 degrees away in latitude from the geomagnetic poles. Chances are, if you’re close to the arctic circle at 66 degrees north, you’re in a good spot.

Scoping has never been so important.

If you want to know the trick to taking pro northern lights photos, this is an important one. If you’ve ever photographed with me before, you’d know I love scoping destinations before I photograph them. What is sometimes a luxury, in this case is practically essential. It’s difficult to see in the dark. Chances are, if you’re in the arctic, you probably don’t know the area well. Scope during the day and use apps like Sky Map to show you what to anticipate after dark. This gives you the ability to find interesting foreground, or subject matter that might compliment the northern lights in a really unique way.

Prepare to be outside for a very long time

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Dress for the elements and understand that getting that shot in these conditions might mean bearing and grinning the cold. Pack snacks, friend of mine and arctic expedition photographer Jon Golden always highly recommends macadamia nuts for cold weather shooting. The extremely high fat content keeps your metabolism running hot.

No other form of photography will push your camera technology like this


I am a massive advocate of “creative intervention”. Using creative means to find a solution for lack of equipment. I think it’s more important to be outside, doing what you love. Rather than sitting at home and being discouraged that you don’t have enough pro camera equipment, a faster lens, a full frame camera body etc. 

For northern lights photos, proper technology and camera equipment is crucial. Except for maybe underwater photography, your camera will never work so hard to produce stunning imagery.

Northern Lights.

Fast lenses, 2.8 and faster are essential. Full frame sensors are also extremely important. The reason equipment matters even more for shooting northern lights than simply a long exposure night sky photo, is because we’re not jut trying to maximize available light. We’re also trying to photograph the definition of a fast moving, hardly visible to the naked eye, phenomena. 

Technique for Taking Pro Northern Lights Photos

There exists well calculated formulas for the perfect northern lights images. Much like other long exposure photography, there is a middle ground to achieving a desired effect while still retaining implied motion, and shape and detail. Northern lights are simply unique because they take place in the darkest of night skies. Balancing a well exposed image, and a sharp and well defined streak of dancing northern lights is difficult, but not impossible.

Northern Lights.

Camera settings

If you want to be taking the best northern lights photos you possible can, you will need to be shooting in full manual. Manual shooting mode, and manual focus. Adjust your aperture as wide as possible. Adjust your shutter speed between 6 seconds, and 12 seconds. Focus on the brightest star in the sky, zooming in to be sure it is tact sharp. Some cameras will be able to handle ISO much better than others. Know what your highest ISO setting is for shooting an image that isn’t overly grainy.

Grain in your photos is OK. You are shooting the darkest skies in the world. People will naturally have a lot go grace when viewing your images. They’ll be focused on the northern lights more than your hot pixels. You can also adjust some of the noise in post-processing, however, you cannot make a soft aurora streak, a sharp and bold streak in post-processing.

Did I mention the wind?

It’s pretty rare to find yourself photographing northern lights on a quiet and calm arctic night. Arctic winds can be strong, like hurricane strong. The wind might not scare the locals, but it will cause your not so sturdy tripod to make some blurry images if you’re not careful. Take care to really shove your tripod into the ground. Use what ever you can to weigh it down, and support it from the wind. 

Don’t forget about the light pollution

Yes. There is light pollution everywhere in the world. Even the darkest skies often have light pollution from nearby cities, towns, or even farms and tiny villages. You might be far enough up north to see the northern lights, but you’re never too far to disregard light pollution. Nothing can make a beautiful northern lights photograph loose its’ appeal like having some orange light leaking into the side of the frame.

Conclusion.

If you’re so lucky to witness this incredible spectacle, take some time and soak it in. Photographers can easily forget to be in the moment and appreciate what it is that’s happening right infant of them. I know I am guilty of it. Don’t let the excitement of getting the perfect photo distract you completely from just experiencing and engaging with one of the most unique phenomena on the plant.