This photo was taken just a mile outside Reykjavik and 3 miles from the city centre. This is a spot known to locals and some of the cheaper bus tours, but this was way in the past, so we were the only ones there. I had just bought my Canon 5D mark III, so this was a chance to put the full frame camera to the test. Night photography is a really good test of both camera and lens (or should I say ‘Sensor’ and ‘lens’), because a long exposure at night will test the sensor’s high iso performance (signal to noise ratio) and the stars in your photo will tell you exactly how good your lens is.
Matter of Luck
Witnessing a Northern lights display is a matter of luck if you are visiting. You need a clear sky with some solar activity to get a proper light show with clear shapes and dancing auroras. There is always some activity, but if it is too weak it will be further North than Iceland and could appear as a green streak near the Northern horizon (with a powerful camera). Sometimes it is very strong, but has no pressure, so there are no shapes. We call this green soup and I have no worthwhile photos of green soup. So as you can appreciate the chances of having a good aurora and how being lucky with one exposure which managed to capture a great shape. Of course, I took many pictures that evening with some big auroras, but a great aurora curve and a half decent composition will always be the winner.