Suburban Northern Lights

Suburban Northern Lights

I constantly advise photographers to get out of the city and away from the city lights to get the best northern lights photographs, but that is not always possible.  Sometimes there are great Aurora Borealis conditions when you are stuck in the capital.

This article discusses my attempts to photograph Northern Lights over a suburb of Reykjavik. The suburb is called Gravavogur (Cemetery district) and is the suburb in which I moved to in 2004. Being a purist nature landscaper, I tend to avoid photography anywhere near Reykjavik – even though Gravavogur is where I learned my craft. I constantly advise photographers to get out of the city and away from the city lights to get the best aurora images. But, seeing as I am here, I thought I would tackle the challenging conditions and try to photograph the northern lights near my home in the capital of Iceland.

Dynamic Range issue

Here is the problem…

Reykjavik Aurora

With a regular Aurora exposure, the city lights become blown out.

Create your own website

Are you thinking of building your own photo website? There are so many tools to help photographers display and sell their photos online.  Having your own website is like owning a property, you don't have to pay commission to third party online galleries  Siteground are the best webhosts I have used in my 15 years of running icelandaurora.  They are currently having a sale.  Use this LINK to get a massive discount on hosting plans.

HDR merge

One solution is to simply take 2 exposures…

Reykjavik Aurora

Exposed for the Aurora.

City Aurora

Exposed for the street lights.

Merge them together in photoshop…

Grava Vogur Aurora

The result is quite pleasing, but you might want to attempt to get both elements exposed correctly in a single frame, i.e for competition purposes.

Magic Cloth

Using the Magic Cloth in this situation is almost the opposite of using it in the nature, where photographers struggle to expose the unlit foreground. Here, the Aurora is dark in comparison with the street lights, so the cloth needs to cover up the bottom of the image quickly and allow the sky a little longer. I experimented with various techniques…

City Northern Lights

In this shot I covered the whole lens very quickly after the onset of exposure (split second), then carefully lowered the cloth to about the mid way point to give the sky a little more exposure. The result is maybe not as powerful as the HDR, but it was achieved in a single exposure.

Advertisement

Subscribe

RSS IcelandAuroraPhotos

  • Rising sun Blue Ice Aluminum Print : Jokulsarlon Iceland by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    53.66 GBPThis stunning beach scene was taken at Jokulsarlon in Iceland. As the sun rose it sent red light scattering everywhere and even made this blue, glacier ice glow red in places. This diamond beach wall art printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and lasts a lifetime. As it is light it is well-suited also […]
  • Velvet Ice Beach Aluminum Print : Jokulsarlon Iceland by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    69.90 GBPThe sky can be colourful an hour before sunrise on the diamond ice beach at Jokulsarlon in Iceland. The dawn colours light up the ice and the black sand has a velvet texture. This is one of my personal favourites from the ice beach. Iceland landscape art printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and […]
  • Iceland : Kirkjufell Aurora Aluminum Print by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    63.67 GBPA colourful Northern Lights display behind Kirkjufell mountain is reflected in the small lake on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland. Night photography printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and lasts a lifetime. As it is light it is well-suited also for large formats and art pieces. Colors are highly saturated, even in large […]

Advertisement

Prinful

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This