Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland…

Seeing the Northern Lights was one of the main things I wanted to do when I visited Iceland in January, so when Iceland Travel invited Matt and I on a Northern Lights trip we jumped at the opportunity! This wasn’t just any old Northern Lights trip either; it was a Super Jeep Tour…
I had been keeping an eye on the Aurora forecast and it was looking good, the Icelandic Met Office is brilliant for checking on the upcoming Northern Lights action. All ready to go, wearing thermal layers and most of my clothes I had packed in preparation for the cold night, we were picked up promptly at 8pm outside our accommodation in the centre of Reykjavík by our 4×4 driver. The super jeep was a very cool looking white Land Rover pimped up with the biggest wheels I have ever seen! In fact I struggled to clamber up into the seat with my little legs! As we drove out of the city, busy bright roads turned into snowy tracks and darkness, we were joined by seven other super jeeps and continued in convoy. Making our way through deep snow I began to get excited. One of the benefits of going in a super jeep, apart from being immensely fun is that the vehicles can get to places that coaches and cars can not reach, the powerful Land Rovers could plough through massive snow drifts with ease, it felt like a real adventure! The snow-covered forest tracks eventually turned into a clearing; we pulled up and jumped out. I looked up and there were the Northern Lights, dancing in the night sky. I watched in silence as the vibrant greens constantly changed shape swirling and gliding through the darkness. As well as taking photos of these beauties I was conscious of just taking it all in, after all it’s not everyday you get to see the Aurora Borealis if you live in the UK. For information on capturing the lights on camera take a look at my blog: Northern Lights photography tips. After a good hour at this spot the lights started to fade and I could no longer feel my feet! So it was back in the jeeps to chase the lights once more and onto the next location. We drove higher up into the mountains, it felt a lot chillier here as I jumped out and scanned the sky. The lights were still visible but not as bright as they had been, it was really interesting here to see what the camera could pick up that the eye missed, the lights were much more apparent viewing them on the back of the camera but of course still great to witness. Our guides whipped out some hot chocolate to keep warm and we even had the option to add vodka to it, a proper winter warmer! Loosing the feeling in my hands and feet again I reluctantly retreated to the warmth of the 4×4 to warm up. Not long after that it was time to make our way back to Reykjavík, snow drifts blocked the road home, after some clever manoeuvres the super jeeps ploughed on through and back onto the road, we even got air at one point! It was an exhilarating experience; one that I definitely won’t forget and to top it off we even saw the Northern Lights again from the roof terrace of our hostel. Seeing them over the city was great and the colours of the lights even changed to purples, it was the perfect end to a perfect evening and something to tick off my bucket list!



Northern Lights Photography Tips…

During a recent trip to Iceland I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights and capture them on camera, I went Aurora chasing with Iceland Travel on a super jeep tour.  January to March is a great time to go hunting for the Aurora Borealis due to the long dark nights.  In Iceland the sun sets at around 4pm during the winter months and doesn’t rise until 11am so there is plenty of time for stargazing.  The sky also needs to be mostly clear to get a good view of the lights.  If you are planning a trip to Iceland around the Northern Lights the Icelandic Met Office is a great website for checking on cloud cover up to six days in advance.  Of course these forecasts can often change so you may not have a perfect prediction until a few hours before you go hunting.
Hoping to capture the Northern Lights on camera? Look no further here are my top tips…


Things you need:
Camera: Ideally a DSLR or a camera that you can control the settings on manually, I initially tried to take photos using my iPhone and had no luck whatsoever!
Tripod: As all the images will be long exposures you need to ensure the camera doesn’t move during the exposure.
Shutter release: To minimise camera shake, alternatively set the camera timer to 2 seconds.


Setting up your shot:
  1. Mount the camera on the tripod and make sure it is level, most tripods have a spirit level.
  1. Have the lens set to the widest it will go and compose the image.
  1. Set the lens to the widest aperture, in my case 2.8.  This allows for the maximum amount of light to hit the camera sensor during the exposure.
  1. Set your lens to manual focus and turn the focus ring around to infinity, this will ensure everything is in focus.
  1. Set your ISO to around 500 to start with.
  1. Shutter speeds that worked for me ranged from 10 – 30 seconds.
  1. Before taking the image to minimise camera shake use your shutter release, as mentioned above or set the camera timer to 2 seconds.


Good luck and happy Aurora hunting…