Aurora on Canvas
Jokulsarlon Ice Beach
One of the keys to success when you are photographing the Northern Lights is the surrounding landscape or ‘Earthly’ features such as lighthouses or abandoned farm buildings. There is a little bit of luck involved, because the Northern lights have to be active in the right part of the sky. We were certainly in the right place. The Jokulsarlon Ice Beach has the potential for incredible foregrounds and a dynamic, coastal landscape. It is very rare to see Northern lights in the Southern half of the sky over the North Atlantic, but when it happened on our 3 day South Coast – Jokulsarlon tour, we certainly took advantage.
The other key to success is the shape of the Aurora. Having a strong line is good and a recognisable shape is lucky. Although there is a lot of luck involved to get good shapes, the more photos you take will increase your chances. The Magic Cloth Technique extends your exposure, but the extra exposure on the Ice Beach is a valuable part of creating a successful photograph. My strategy with each composition is to keep trying regular exposures while the Northern Lights are warming up. When you know you have captured a good sky, then extend the exposure (helps if you are in bulb mode) so you can add more exposure to the landscape. When you have covered the sky after the first part of the exposure, care must be taken to avoid exposing the stars again or they will leave strange duplicates.
The timing couldn’t have been better for a great shape and that wash of ocean around the glacier ice.