Northern Lights in Helsinki Last Night

helsinki_northern_lights_aurora_borealis

9 thoughts on “Northern Lights in Helsinki Last Night

    • From Kamppi I’d go to the shores near the Hietaniemi beach and look for a dark spot from where you can see a large part of the sky. The less there are other lights in the view the better.

      I’ve seen northern lights pics taken at Töölönlahti and Pohjoissatama. Go as far as possible from street lamps and other light sources and avoid having them between you and the sky.

      Suomenlinna and Seurasaari are probably good if you bring your own flashlight so that you can go to the darkest corners with a view to the lightless Baltic Sea.

      • For northern lights a good setup is a tripod and a fast wide lens set to manual focus. Like Canon/Sigma 24mm f/1.4. A lesser lens is ok but you will have to use high ISOs.

        The following thoughts require understanding about the basics of exposure. Northern lights are not difficult but neither the first thing one learns to expose.

        For exposure I used the longest shutter speed that kept the stars as points and not lines (earth rotates pretty quickly!). At 24mm lines appear after a few seconds. The wider the lens the longer it takes for the stars become lines.

        The faster your lens the more you can avoid noise (e.g. use a lower ISO). Most of the time I shot at f/1.4 and used the lowest ISO that allowed me a fast enough shutter speed to keep the stars as points. Usually around 800-1600.

        Canon camera’s light meter was close most of the time but I overexposed a bit to make sure there’s less need to open shadows in post-processing (which increases noise in the photo).

        In the dark the photos on camera’s LCD can appear much brighter than they actually are. Use camera’s histogram to evaluate the exposure instead.

        Experimentation is always the key for correct exposure settings. Exposure is often a compromise and what is important is not the same in every photo.

      • Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately my tripod is still somewhere in a moving box on the way to Helsinki, but stones/benches can do the trick to some extend.
        For exposure I always referred to rule of 600 (600/focal length = exposure in seconds) that works pretty well.

        You seem to be pretty good at being out there in the right place at the right moment. I guess you use some sort of Aurora forecast? Or is it just instinct?

        Cheers!

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