I have been fortunate enough to take aurora photos around the world for the past 10 years. So far, I observed and photographed the northern lights in Finland, Norway, Svalbard and Greenland. I briefly saw them in Russia but was not able to take any pictures at the time.
Taking aurora photos all these years has allowed me to fine-tune my technique, and I am even sharing it now with you with a comprehensive guide on how to photograph the aurora. And now let me show you my favourite northern lights pictures!
Aurora photos in Finland
I took northern lights pictures for the first time in Inari, in the far north of Finnish Lapland. I got so hooked after a first exceptionally bright show that I travelled back there year after year. After a couple of year, I even started leading my own workshops in Utsjoki, further north in Finnish Lapland.
Autumn is also a great time of the year to take aurora photos in Lapland. The lakes are then not frozen yet, and you can enjoy reflections everywhere. Besides, around the fall equinox (similarly to the spring equinox), there are statistically more often aurora nights in the northern latitudes.
Did you know that sometimes you can also take northern lights photos in the south of Finland? And that it doesn’t need to be winter? For the photo below, after a few months without auroras during the bright summer, I could not wait any longer and at the first good forecast of August I jumped in a plane to Helsinki!
Northern lights pictures in Svalbard
Even though Svalbard is administratively part of Norway, I consider it separately here. The Svalbard archipelago lies at around 80°N. This is really the high Arctic. Moreover, it is so far north that the chances to see the aurora are actually smaller than on mainland Norway. When on the mainland you watch the northern horizon to spot the aurora, there on Svalbard you better keep watching the southern horizon!
The first time that I travelled to Svalbard was in March 2015 to observe and photograph a total solar eclipse. The night after the eclipse, despite finding ourselves in a constant blue hour, I managed to photograph the northern lights. This was the last night of the season during which the sky was dark enough to take aurora photos (and see them)!
Since then, I returned to Svalbard as a wildlife photographer, meaning that it is often in the midnight sun season when the auroras are not visible. I did return at the very end of September, and was greeted by a spectacular show on board of the French expedition ship Polarfront.
Aurora photos in Norway
We travel back to mainland Norway, another prime location to take pictures of the northern lights. When staying in Finnish Lapland, sometimes it take a bit of chasing to find clear skies, and I find myself crossing the border into Norway.
I also had a chance to travel to the Lofoten islands and chase the auroras with my good friend Steven Henriksen and what a show we had!
Aurora pictures in Greenland
Greenland is also located across the aurora oval. When I travelled there, I was greeted by a beautiful northern lights show on my first night, and many subsequent nights too!
The Icefjord of Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, proved to be such a beautiful location to photograph the aurora.
I also spent a few days on the small island of Uummannaq. Uummannaq means heart shaped in Greenlandic, a reflection on the shape of the mountain that overlooks the island. With several icebergs in the bay, I was able to take one of my dream aurora photos.
So what countries are missing?
As I wrote before, I saw the northern lights in Russia, when I was living in Saint Petersburg. Sadly, I did not have a chance to take photos at the time. Some of my pictures from Norway and Finnish Lapland are taken just a few kilometres from the Russian border, but the car rental company wouldn’t let me drive across the border!
Of course, I still miss Iceland… Who wants to take me there so that I can finally see with my own eyes what the fuss is all about?
And finally, Canada and Alaska are high on my list as well, so I should start planning some trips to this part of the world.
Buy a print or licence
I have a few hundred Northern Lights photos to choose from!
Do you want to see more aurora photos?
In this article I presented you with a small selection of some of my favourite pictures of the northern lights. All my aurora photos are available for licensing and as prints.
Or maybe you prefer to take aurora pictures yourself, then why don’t you join me at one of my upcoming photo trips in Utsjoki? Or do you prefer a ship expedition to photograph northern lights and whales?