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Ragnar’s final technical tip is to disable autofocus as your lens won’t be able to ‘latch’ on to anything in the dark. Instead, autofocus on the moon area light source far away and then turn off your autofocus.

“I even put a tape on the lens to prevent me from putting the camera out of focus by accident!” says Ragnar. And one last tip – “if you’re shooting in sub-zero temperatures, watch out not to breathe on your camera or lens, as it will freeze instantly. Then all of this effort would be in vain!”

That may be the technical stuff taken care of, but as Ragnar says, it’s not about having the latest equipment but rather the joy of taking photographs and concentrating on mastering the kit you have. “Perfect your techniques with your existing gear before going on a spending spree,” he urges. “Bigger and better lenses won’t make you a professional photographer and will just give you a sore shoulder from carrying them around.”

Being comfortable using your camera is one thing, but being prepared for the spectacle of the aurora is quite another – and we’re no longer referring to practicalities. This is such an otherworldly display that countless would-be aurora photographers have simply gazed up in awe, forgetting to pay attention to their camera. So can Ragnar’s superb northern lights images be partly attributed to him being ever-so-slightly desensitised by the northern lights?

“I still say ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’, but after all these years observing them the displays need to be quite big,” he jokes. “But the first time you see them you won’t believe your eyes – enjoying the night sky, the silence, the darkness and the brightness of the stars is out of this world. Of course, you need patience – I often wait several hours, but they do come. Seeing is believing, and experiencing is feeling.”

Photography tips and image courtesy of Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson and Discover the World.

Maria Bain is a freelance travel journalist and blogger. Having travelled her whole life, lived in five countries around the world and received an English Literature degree, Maria is both a passionate traveller and writer. 


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Photographing the Northern Lights: An expert’s view
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