Greenland's nighttime scenery offers a totally new, exciting and challenging world to explore. Northern lights are particularly sought after for photographers.
THE MAGIC OF THE DARKNESS
For most of the nighttime photographers coming to Greenland, the northern lights are an obvious draw, particularly in destinations around the Arctic Circle – like Tasiilaq, Nuuk, Maniitsoq, Sisimiut, and Kangerlussuaq. But the darkness offers a whole host of other adventures, both natural and scenic, which give the northern lights perspective and dynamism.The stars, the Milky Way, and the carefully delineated landscapes are all part of the night’s experiences. Photos of the northern lights are ultimately pictures of landscapes – with mountains, the ocean, a city or other landscape features set in a world where the stars and the northern lights reign supreme.So even though those tiny electrically charged particles that tumble into the earth’s upper atmosphere tend to steal the show and bring the wow factor, images of the northern lights without context, without landscape, and without a frame, tend to provide photos with a less exciting narrative.
The stars, the Milky Way, and the carefully delineated landscapes are all part of the night’s experiences.
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COMPOSITION AND STORY IN PHOTOGRAPHING NORTHERN LIGHTS
General recommendations for landscape composition also apply to photos taken at night. If you harbour a dream of getting the northern lights on camera, it is wise to contemplate where you will find a good foreground and a suitable middle ground for your photo, which will play along with the night sky phenomenon and give the story a personal touch.Most photographers who shoot at night know from experience that a trip during the day to assess the landscape aids in the composition of photos taken during the night. It is a great help in making the most of the opportunity when the sky suddenly lights up at night and your brain is scrambling.For most people shooting photos at night it’s all about getting outside in the darkness, enjoying the open space above their heads and getting a feel for nature in a different way.If you have specific goals, such as wanting to improve your ability to capture and narrate the stories of the night, we have written a short guide which contains some general advice on night photography and the northern lights. Learn more about how to capture images of the night sky and the northern lights.
Try to get to know the landscape when it is daylight, including the road to and from the area you intend to photograph, so you can safely navigate the area in the dark using a head lamp.
Check out possible composition possibilities, including a foreground, middle ground and the sky as a background.
Ask local people about areas where you can be as far away from man-made light sources as possible – unless you are already way out in the countryside. In which case we recommend that you don’t turn in on clear nights, but just stay out there enjoying the experience.
Stick with a good composition for your photo and wait for the northern lights to show up right where you want them. Don’t go chasing them around as you may then get a picture with a poor composition and thus a photo with a dull story.
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