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:
Mount the camera on the tripod and make sure it is level, most tripods have a spirit level.
Have the lens set to the widest it will go and compose the image.
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.
Set your lens to manual focus and turn the focus ring around to infinity, this will ensure everything is in focus.
Set your ISO to around 500 to start with.
Shutter speeds that worked for me ranged from 10 – 30 seconds.
Before taking the image to minimise camera shake use your shutter release, as mentioned above or set the camera timer to 2 seconds.
I’ve worked in the skies as cabin crew for British Airways for nearly ten years now, I love nothing more than peering out of the windows and taking photos of the ever-changing world below me. This is something I never get bored of, it can be quite addictive! I love checking the moving map on long haul flights to see where we are flying over or if I spot an interesting landscape on a short-haul flight I’ll give the flight crew a call to find out where we’re flying over, this is all in between working of course! Yes I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to peering out of the window at 37,000ft and I can recognise the south coast pretty well now, keeping a look out for my hometown and giving it a wave has become a bit of a ritual! Seeing other aircraft in the sky and spotting the London skyline from a distance is fun too. The northern lights was particularly exciting to see en route to London from Calgary, unfortunately the images were very faint so I decided not to share them but to watch them dancing against the blackness of the sky was incredible. Seeing Kilimanjaro from the air left me awestruck and put into perspective how huge it really is. The islands and atolls of the Maldives are stunning to fly over, I could watch the powder white sands and sparkling turquoise waters of paradise all day from an aircraft window. I love a snowy, mountainous landscape so staring at the edge of Greenland and icebergs dotted in the water before endless ocean on the way to America was incredible. There is so much untouched beauty out there! Catching a glimpse of The Pitons coming into St Lucia was also an exciting moment, I felt like I could reach out and touch them. Cityscapes are pretty magical too, flying over New York at sunset and being able to make out Manhattan and Central Park so clearly is definitely another highlight. The other thing I love about working in the sky is that it doesn’t matter how grey and rainy it is in the UK as soon as the aircraft climbs above the clouds it’s always bright and sunny.
Over the years I have collected a ton images from the sky which I’ve not yet shared, from New York to Kilimanjaro, Antigua to the Alps and Greenland to Portugal and not forgetting the good old homeland, the south coast of the UK. These are a few of my favourite views of the beautiful world below me which I’ve captured from 37,000 ft and inspired me to write this blog….
I am by no means an expert when it comes to the best tools for travel blogging but it can be a bit daunting when you first think about setting up your own blog, so I thought I would jot down a few tips and tools to get started. Through trial and error these are my trusty go to tools when I’m travelling and when I’m at home editing my work and blogs.
If you are thinking of getting into the world of blogging and want a few suggestions then read on, hopefully I can help…
I originally set my blog up through WordPress, a free blogging platform with the option to upgrade to payable services. It is easy to use and allows you to view your blogs daily stats. Choose a name and in a few simple clicks you will have the basics ready to go. I’ve read a lot of tips from other bloggers and articles on social media while building up my blog and in terms of social media presence you should be posting ideally at least 2-3 times a week. I am guilty of not doing this! At the moment in all honesty I am only posting once a month. In terms of personal goals this is something I want to improve on.
Nice clean images are key to making your blog appealing and attractive to your readers I mix up cameras when I’m out and about….
iPhone: I’ve got to say the camera I use the most is the one on my iPhone. I recently upgraded to the iPhone 6 and the image quality is really good. With the options of panoramic, video and time-lapse it can do so much. I also love that it is discreet, if I am somewhere I don’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that I am taking photos then this is perfect.
Canon 550d: I love this camera! It takes great quality images and is fantastic for capturing long exposures. Compared to the iPhone you obviously really do notice the difference in image quality. I must confess, I’ve not used this camera as much as I should have. I have no excuse, as my husband Matt is a photographer! I tend to put it on automatic settings having not got the confidence to play around with it just yet. Mine is actually a Rebel, the American version of the 550d. After doing some research I discovered that there are different variations of this camera sold in different countries and these equivalents can often work out cheaper, like the one I bought. It is essentially the same camera, just a different name. So if you are on the hunt for one it is worth checking out these different versions.
GoPro: I love the GoPro too; the wide-angle provides really cool images. It is small with very durable housing which is also waterproof and can be used in all sorts of different situations to capture all your adventures. I have mounted mine on the front of my surfboard in Barbados, taken it snorkelling with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, snowboarding in New Zealand and in a helicopter on a glacier trip. It is perfect for all-weather situations. The GoPro also has video mode and time-lapse. There are all sorts of accessories available for it including long-range remote controls and mounts for a ton of different activities including for bikes and surfboards.
I couldn’t live without my MacBook Air. I have the 11-inch model; it is perfect for travelling due to its small size and being so lightweight. Macs are generally more expensive than a PC laptop but well worth it in my opinion as having had PC laptops in the past I have found the life of my Mac has lasted a lot longer (so far!) than any of the other laptops I’ve had before, making it a very good investment.
A hard drive is vital for storing and backing up images and documents. They are great for when you are on the move too as you can buy very compact ones. iCloud storage is also useful for backing up data.
I also have an i-Flash HD Drive, which allows you to transfer images, documents and videos between devices. Of course iCloud does this too but the i-Flash drive can be used to transfer between PCs as well. It’s a nifty little gadget perfect for transferring instagrammed images from my phone to my Mac and a handy storage device too.
Evernote is brilliant for keeping notes in one place. It has the ability to create separate folders or ‘notebooks’ to keep everything on the same subject together. You can add images and sound clips to notes, share notes via email, Twitter, Facebook and many more as well as exporting notes onto your device. I couldn’t live without out it now.
Notebook and pen:
I love nothing more than putting pen to paper, especially if I am at work, as I can’t just whip out my Mac in the galley on an aircraft! It’s also good for giving your eyes a bit of a rest from the glare of your laptop screen. I often find I put all my thoughts and scribbles down on paper first before heading to my Mac, it somehow feels more creative and seems to get my thoughts flowing. Even with all the modern technology of today there is nothing quite like a good pen and pretty notebook.
Social media platforms are fantastic for sharing your work, searching for travel inspiration, chatting with other like-minded bloggers and sharing travel tips and inspiration. I use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Vimeo to promote my blog and chat about all things travel. Using hashtags is key when posting on social media channels; it helps to get whatever you are mentioning noticed. My favourites are #traveltuesday, #wanderlustwednesday, #beachthursday and #frifotos.
As well as reading about other bloggers travels and adventures I also love learning from them…these are a few of my favourites…
Mollie Makes have a magazine on all things social media, I love magazines like this. I have been blogging for a couple of years now but there is still a lot more to learn especially in such an ever-changing industry.
A great way to delve into the world of travel blogging and to meet other bloggers and brands is to attend conferences. Traverse host awesome travel blogging events. I attended Traverse 2013 in Brighton, not only did it arm me with heaps of information on improving my blog but it also gave me the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, get an idea of how to potentially make money from my blog, improve my confidence and inspire me to develop my blog further.
Anything I’ve missed? What are your tips and tools for blogging? I would love to hear them…
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