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Hrifunes Nature Park hotel Northern Lights

A guide: How to capture the Northern Lights on your smartphone.

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A regular occurrence for visitors to Hrifunes Nature Park cabins in the South of Iceland is to see the Northern Lights in action. It’s an enchanting experience to witness the dance of green and purple lights across the sky. A personal photograph of the Aurora Borealis can be tricky achieve, but a prized possession which will make your friends green with envy.

Most experienced photographers travelling with a dedicated DSLR camera don’t need many tips or tricks to catch the Northern Lights. But for the rest of us equipped with a smartphone, which we are used to having on auto settings — might need a little help!

To see the Northern Lights with your naked eye, you need:

  • Darkness (winter)
  • Clear skies
  • Aurora Activity
  • Weather prediction tools at your disposal such as vedur.is ←

On vedur.is, green areas mean clouds and white areas mean clear skies, which are essential for a good Aurora Borealis show.

To photograph the Northern Lights with a smartphone, keep these basic tips in mind:

  • Keep your lens clean. Get rid of any smudges on your lens.
  • Turn on airplane mode so your shot won’t be ruined by a call.
  • Depending on conditions, try experimenting with built in presets like starry night, lightning and fireworks that enhance low light capabilities.
  • Set the phone to manual mode which lets you adjust things like ISO, shutter and exposure and experiment. Although some phones, like the iPhone, don’t have a manual mode in the native camera app, there are plenty of photography apps you can download that offer manual controls.
  • Turn up your ISO and exposure to the maximum settings if needed but be careful not to overdo it, as the photos can become grainy.
  • Experiment with long exposure shots. That means you give your smartphone 10-15 seconds to soak up light, giving you more details and brightness.
  • Keep your phone perfectly still. If you have a dedicated tripod, then that would be helpful for long exposure shots. If not, try to find a good spot where you can prop the phone up, pointing towards the sky without it moving.

For inspiration here are a few photos from our pro photographer guests!

Hrifunes Nature Park Hotel Northern Lights
Photo courtesy of wife-husband duo, Ankita & Akash @WeddingNama
Hrifunes Nature Park Hotel Northern Lights
Photo courtesy of wife-husband duo, Ankita & Akash @WeddingNama
Hrifunes Nature Park Hotel Northern Lights
Photo courtesy of wife-husband duo, Ankita & Akash @WeddingNama
Hrifunes Nature Park Hotel Northern Lights
Photo courtesy of photographer Tom Kahler
Hrifunes Nature Park Hotel Northern Lights
Photo courtesy of photographer Tom Kahler
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