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Shoot the Aurora with your phone

“Can you take pictures of the Northern Lights with your mobile phone?”

People sometimes ask me that question. I used to say “No” because the quality would never satisfy me. But the answer is of course “Yes” if you mean wether it's possible at all.

Here's how to do it.

This is not a tutorial so you may have to figure out how to find the settings in your camera app. But I will tell you how I do it with my Huawei Honor 7 Lite, a relatively cheap Android phone.

1. Open your camera app.

2. Slide to the right to reveal a set of settings.

3. Choose Professional (or something similar)

Sorry, my phone speaks Swedish...

4. On the settings bar that appears: click ISO and set it as high as possible (1600 in my case)

5. S stands for Shutter speed. Click that and make it as long as possible (8 seconds for my phone)

6. If there's an EV setting, set it as high as possible.

7. Focusing (AF) has to be set to manual (MF) and then adjusted to Infinity, often indicated by a mountain icon.

8. Set the white balance (AWB) to sunlight. Or use the Kelvin setting (indicated by an icon that looks like a rectangel standing on two triangles) and set it to somewhere around 3000–3400. White balance often needs some testing before you find the right setting.

9. You are now set to shoot, but first you have to place your phone on a steady surface. Don't try to hold it in your hand while taking the photo.

10. Carefully click the shutter button on the screen and then don't touch the phone while exposing.

Well, it's not the perfect Aurora photo, but it's what you can do with a phone. And it's definitely better than no photo.

There you have it. This works for Northern Lights or any other object in the darkness. If the photos are too bright, adjust the ISO or the shutter speed until you find what works.

Good luck!

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