My Favorite Northern Lights Pictures

As you probably know from our Instagram and Snapchat, one of my favorite activities here in the north has been hunting and photographing the northern lights. I’ve now been photographing them around Umeå since last year when I moved here and wanted to collect my best photos into one post. The first time I saw them was actually pretty much exactly a year ago. Although they’re sometimes visible in the southern Sweden too, it’s always better when you’re up in the north. Umeå is a decent good place for spotting the northern lights so I’ve tried to make the most of it while I’m still here. The northern lights actually occur throughout the year, but are visible only when it is dark, so from approximately April until August they’re not visible here. However, the good thing is that the season is on now!

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The first time I saw the auroras in October last year. I took this picture from our living room window.

Though the season is now on, it’s a still little bit a matter of luck, whether you’ll see the magic or not. It’s not just about solar winds and how the weather in the sun looks like. The sky has to be clear in order the northern lights, or auroras to be visible. So if you want to see more than just clouds, check the weather forecast before you go. Forecasting the northern lights is a bit more tricky and most forecasts are not super accurate until the last minute. I’ve been using this website  and some mobile apps for checking the situation. There are also Facebook groups where people share useful information and tips. I actually checked the forecast while writing this post and the Kp index was 7, which is extremely high! Sadly, it’s cloudy tonight so I’ll have to wait for a better day. 🙁

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This is still my all-time favorite picture. I didn’t notice the meteor until I got home and went through my pictures. 💚

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In Umeå the most common place to go to is Nydala lake as it’s far enough from the city lights, but it’s still easy to get there. In addition to darkness, another thing to consider when choosing the location is, that in an open space you’ll be able to see more. As the aurora circles around the north pole, you should be able to see towards north from your location. Though, if it’s really strong you’ll be able to see it right above you.

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A weak aurora above the beach at Nydalasjön.

If you’re into photography, the most important thing to bring is a tripod. For good pictures, you want a long exposure time and you won’t be able to hold the camera still for long enough. Another piece of equipment to bring along is a remote control, as pushing the camera trigger with your finger will shake the camera and your pictures. Test your camera and equipment before you go, as it’s rather annoying to start figuring things out on spot (and possibly freezing your fingers). Wide angle lens is also good to have. Mine is not super wide, so I often shoot a few pictures and use the Photoshop panorama function to combine them. Each of the three pictures below is actually a combination of about 5 pictures merged into one.

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If the northern lights are really strong you can see them even with city lights, which can be a cool combination at night!

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Northern lights are usually just green, but there are sometimes shades of pink too. 💕

 

Leonilla avatar

15 Comments

  • Irene Mok • 5 Aug 2017 at 5.04 pm Reply

    What are the chances of seeing northern lights here at end March. Thanks.

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 7 Aug 2017 at 12.13 pm Reply

      Hej! There are some in March every now and then, but it’s really a matter of luck whether you can see them. 🙂 / Leonilla

  • Cristina Ștefania • 11 Nov 2016 at 4.45 pm Reply

    AMAZING ! I came across your page while google-ing about the Northern lights in Umeå, since i plan on coming there on 2 of january. Are there any public transportation ways to get from the center of the city to Nydala Lake ? Or should i rent a car ? How is the aurora activity in january ?

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 12 Nov 2016 at 5.29 pm Reply

      Hej! I’m glad to hear you’re going to visit Umeå. 🙂 There are some buss stops quite near the lake so I don’t think a car will be necessary, unless you want to explore some places further away from the city. In January the chances to see them should be pretty good, as long as the weather is clear.

  • Selina • 2 Nov 2016 at 1.04 pm Reply

    Your pictures are SO pretty Leonilla! I can’t wait to see the northern lights when I move to Stockholm next January. I have a Nikon D5000 and although I love photographing, I’m rather an amateur and never took pictures of nights or the darkness. Do you have some great and basic tips for a beginner on how to make good pictures at night? Which settings do you usually use and how long is your exposure time?

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 3 Nov 2016 at 1.26 pm Reply

      Hej Selina and thanks! 🙂 A tripod is the most important thing you need when taking pictures at night. The settings depend on the effect you want, with northern lights I usually use about 5 seconds and a high ISO value. High ISO increases noise in your pictures, but most of it can be taken care of in Lightroom or Photoshop, so editing is often essential as well. Best of luck when moving to Sweden!

  • Supritha
    Supritha • 31 Oct 2016 at 11.03 am Reply

    So beautiful 🙂 the photos and this post!

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 31 Oct 2016 at 11.23 am Reply

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Sonja • 26 Oct 2016 at 8.26 pm Reply

    Wow! I’m so jealous since we don’t have northern lights here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 🙁

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 27 Oct 2016 at 11.31 am Reply

      But you can come and visit Sweden! 🙂

      • Sonja • 27 Oct 2016 at 2.09 pm Reply

        I visit Sweden every year, but I’ve never seen the northern lights. Hopefully I’ll cross that off my bucket list when I come to study in Sweden next year. 🙂

  • Francesco
    Francesco • 26 Oct 2016 at 7.19 pm Reply

    Amazing!

  • kUBUMWE Eddy Colomb • 26 Oct 2016 at 4.47 pm Reply

    very nice sania i wish you the best

  • Sania
    Sania • 26 Oct 2016 at 12.49 am Reply

    So pretty <3

    • Leonilla
      Leonilla • 26 Oct 2016 at 2.48 pm Reply

      Thank you! ☺️

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