When you are out in the night shooting the Northern Lights and they start to dance all over the sky, you want to get them all in your picture but that can be difficult. The Northern Lights sometimes move very quickly around the sky, change colours and forms so it is a challenging task to choose what part of the lights you should shoot. There is an opportunity to take panorama picture of them when they are not moving so quickly and you have something in the foreground and landscape to help you with.

Northern Lights over Budir in west Iceland

This one is from Snæfellsnes, the black church at Búðir and the glacier Snæfellsjökull at the end of the peninsula, the aurora was very vivid and active that night and the moon helped me to light up the church. Eleven pictures all taken in portrait form - exposure time 5 sek, Canon 5DM3, focal length 22mm, iso 3200 and f/2.8. 

airplane at solheimasandur

It is maybe easier to shoot the milky way, it doesn't move very much around. The best situation for the milky way is clear sky, no moon and no northern light or at least very weak. This one is made of 10 pictures showing the US Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane that forced to land on Sólheimasandur at the south Coastline in November 1973 after experience some severe icing. A very popular photo location for photographers and music videos. The Northern Lights were weak at this moment so I used the opportunity to shoot the milky way, the half circle. Canon 5DM3, focal length 16mm, 30 sec and iso 6400.


  • Find more advice for photography in Iceland here
  • Find tours to Snæfellsnes here.

Hvítserkur sea stack with Northern Lights above

Hvítserkur is very well known rock in the north part of Iceland. The rock is 15m high basalt stack along the seashore of the Vatnsnes peninsula in north west Iceland. I'm not sure how many pictures are put together here but the time was 13sec, f/2.8, iso 3200 and focal length 16 shot in portrait form.

Two lighthouses at Akranes
The two lighthouses at Akranes, panorama made of 15 pictures. It is great fun to shoot the aurora and the Milky way but it can also be tricky. I don't have special equipment for panorama shooting which is probable better to have. It is good to have clear landscape and a moon to light up the environment. I didn't know that it was possible to shoot the aurora in panorama until I was some pictures, that got me into trying and practice makes perfect. Not all of my panorama pictures stick together. I try to take as many as I can at the moment and change positions and views frequently.

There are special programs to work with panorama pictures but I usually just try first Lightroom or Photoshop and they are very good in doing the job well. When you have been shooting the aurora the normal way for some years this is giving something extra to the Northern light shooting and the outcome of your pictures. If you are coming to Iceland and are looking for a guide for a day tour or northern light tour you can contact me or find some options here on this website.


See also: 

Northern Lights Tours

Best Places to Shoot the Northern Lights in Iceland

Hvítserkur - The Troll of North-West Iceland

Picnic at the White Beach Búðir

Contact Jón