I decided to share this shot from our Feb 2014 workshop at Jokulsarlon. Auroras at this beautiful Iceland location can be incredible. Jokulsarlon is the best place in the world to photograph Northern Lights. We run several popular photo trips to Jokulsarlon. Northern lights are quite common if you are on a long photo tour. During the Winter months, our tours have quite a high success rate.
Magic cloth long exposure. Use the Magic Cloth Technique.
For recording the foreground or reflections in a night scene the Magic Cloth Technique functions wonderfully. For successful Magic Cloth Method the # 1 requirement is having a long exposure, so you can control the exposure to different parts of the scene with a dark cloth or card. Although I have found a large mitten works just fine. The only real necessity is a straight edge to the material or card.
I begin with a bunch of 30 second exposures at iso 1600 and f/2.8, I ‘ll introduce the Magic Cloth at numerous times, such as 20 or 10 seconds until I’ve found the exposure that works best for the sky. At night you cannot trust your picture preview for the correct exposure or you will have badly under exposed northern lights photos. It’s good to check that the exposure is creeping within the half-way line on the histogram and not too bunched up on the left. If it is a night picture, the histogram is going to be left biased. Once you have the correct histogram, you may use the preview screen to judge the exposure.
Aurora photos should be shot without filters.
The technique requires a bit of extra exposure time as the allowance of extra exposure at the top of the scene will necessitate that the low element of the scene will soon be coated for longer when compared to a simple promenade technique.
The aim of the Magic Cloth Method is really to balance the shutter speed on the sky versus the floor, and this works best should you plan to add some foreground that is interesting in the scene.
„The most important thing for us is to always be learning, push the boundaries, and to find something new and different with each shoot.” ― Daniel and Lindsay Stark
Facts about Aurora Borealis
Atomic Nitrogen in the atmosphere within 60 miles above the Earth’s surface collides with electrons & makes the aurora appear blue.
These are multi-day photo tours that include Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon. If conditions are good these tours can include Northern lights photography.
Northern Lights Photos
Here are some more photos of the Aurora Borealis to help keep you inspired by Iceland.