Glenn Nagel Photography | The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights

March 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I recently returned from a trip to Iceland. Click here to view my favorite images from this trip.

One of the things I hoped to see while in Iceland is the northern lights--or the aurora borealis. Unfortunately, it was raining and overcast during much of my time in Iceland.

One night, while staying at the Hotel Smyrlabjorg in Skalafell, the sky opened for a short time and the northern lights made an appearance. Our guide, Tony Prower, was monitoring the aurora forecast and also had a view of the northern sky from his hotel room. Just before 11pm, Tony started knocking on our hotel doors so that we could get outside to capture photographs of the aurora.

This is the picture that I captured just steps from the hotel:

Northern LightsNorthern LightsNorthern Lights or Aurora Borealis from the Hotel Smyrlabjorg in Skalafell, Iceland on February 22, 2018

The strange thing is that even though I captured this picture, I really didn't get to see the northern lights. Although the camera's sensor recorded the aurora, it wasn't visible to the naked eye. I did see a white cloud that appeared to be brighter than it should be at night. But, I didn't see the green color. And, most of the people around me couldn't see it either.

I was pleased to capture the photograph, but it was a little disappointing that I didn't get to see the northern lights with my own eyes!

I do very little photography of the night sky, so I asked Tony what settings he would recommend. He said to start with ISO 1600 with a relatively wide aperture (I chose f/3.2) and to see if the shutter speed would be less than 30 seconds. The shutter speed for this shot was 25 seconds.

About 20 minutes after I captured this image, the wind picked up again to its customary 35 mph and clouds quickly covered the sky. It snowed for the next few hours. We never saw the northern lights again. Then again, I never saw the northern lights to begin with!


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