Aurora Mountain – Northern Lights Photo

mountain northern lights reflection

This mountain looks incredibly significant as it is framed by the Northern lights on this cold Winter night. The location is in Suðursveit county, South East Iceland and has no name other than “Fell“, which means “Hill“.

The flat landscape below “Fell” has been shaped by a huge glacier and this was the same glacier than roughened the edges of the mountain. The landscape is rich with rivers and small ponds and could even be described as marshland. It is certainly not for building hotels on.

Behind the mountain and out of sight is the mighty Vatnajökull glacier and the Jökulsarlon Glacier lagoon.

Aurora reflections

This spot can be very good for Northern lights because there is a possibility of capturing a reflection of the Aurora in the landscape. After we have arrived in the dark and set up our cameras for some night exposures, it is a little more than luck that the Aurora Borealis will dance in the right part of the sky. 

Ideally we want the aurora to be strongest behind the mountain, due North, because it means that the reflection will contain the Northern Lights as well as the mountain. 

This night photo was a 26 second exposure, but the sky would have been covered after just 10 seconds with my Magic Cloth. The landscape with its reflections were given the full 26 seconds.  This helped to balance the exposure and is the best filter for Night photography when the landscape is important.

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Ides of March

March is better for active northern lights than it was for Caesar. It is just a month before the aurora stops being visible in Iceland. March often has Winter conditions, but you can see from the photo, that the ground snow has melted. It is unusual to be missing snow on the landscape which can often stay well into April. 

Personally, the lack of snow or ice was a bit disappointing. I think snow or ice work better as a subject to accompany the Northern Lights.  There is also the benefit of  requiring less exposure time for a snow covered landscape.

Camera Gear

Recommended camera equipment.

There are plenty of equipment choices for Northern Lights photography. Your camera should be able to take a long exposure, so it needs to be a DSLR of Mirrorless equivalent.  Newer and high end cameras have great performance at high iso settings. Having a good live view is a bonus. A wide-angle lens is quite important because the Northern Lights can fill the entire sky.  It is good to have a wide angle range from14-24mm. 

A superior Nikon lens at this range is Nikor 14-24mm f/2.8 – Prices UK – Prices USA This lens can be used on Canon DSLR with a nikon to canon lens adapter

In the Canon Lens range I would recommend the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens the mark three version of this lens is far superior to the earlier versions.

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  • A little Red light on the back lets you know you are exposing.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.

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