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A 2024 Guide to Capturing the Northern Lights with Your Cell Phone

Updated: Jan 7


The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a mesmerizing natural phenomenon that lights up the night sky in polar regions. Capturing these ethereal lights with your cell phone can be a rewarding experience. In this guide, we will provide you with essential tips and tricks to help you capture stunning photos of the Northern Lights in 2024.

leartning to take pictures of the northern lights with a cell phone

1. Choose the Right Location:

- Head to a location with minimal light pollution. Remote areas away from city lights are ideal.

- Research Northern Lights forecasts and choose nights with a high likelihood of auroral activity.

2. Prepare Your Gear:

- Use a cell phone with a good camera, preferably one that allows manual control of settings like ISO and exposure.

- Ensure your phone is fully charged, and bring a portable charger for extended shooting.

star trails over northern Saskatchewan

3. Essential Camera Settings:

- Set your cell phone to manual mode or download a camera app that offers manual control.

- Adjust the ISO to a low setting (ISO 100-400) to reduce noise.

- Set the focus to manual and adjust it to infinity (∞) for sharp stars and lights.

- Keep the exposure time relatively short (10-20 seconds) to avoid star trails.

- Experiment with different exposure settings until you find the right balance.

northern lights over a barn

4. Use a Tripod:

- A stable platform like a tripod is crucial to avoid camera shake during long exposures.

- If you don't have a tripod, improvise by placing your phone on a stable surface.

5. Reduce Camera Shake:

- Use a remote shutter release or the timer function on your phone to trigger the shot without touching it.

- Consider investing in a smartphone gimbal for even more stability.

wolf in the northern lights

6. Patience is Key:

- The Northern Lights can be unpredictable. Be patient and prepared to spend hours waiting for the perfect moment.

7. Composition:

- Frame your shot with an interesting foreground, like trees, mountains, or a lake, to add depth and context.

- Experiment with different angles and compositions to find the most compelling view.

A person standing on a rock, gazing upwards at the mesmerizing Northern Lights illuminating the night sky.
Under the Northern Lights: A Majestic Skyward Gaze

8. Post-Processing:

- Use photo editing apps to enhance your images, adjusting brightness, contrast, and color balance if needed.

- Avoid over-processing, as it can make your photos look unnatural...hint..hint...

9. Share Your Experience:

- Share your stunning Northern Lights photos with friends and on social media to inspire others.

10. Respect Nature:

- Remember to be respectful of the environment and local regulations when photographing the Northern Lights.


I suggest utilizing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Apple iPhone 15 Pro, or Google Pixel 7 Pro until the S24 is released. Each of these smartphones features a dedicated night mode that captures multiple images and merges them into a single, brighter, and less noisy photo. All three options are excellent, and distinguishing one as superior to the others is quite challenging.

Capturing the Northern Lights with your cell phone in 2024 is an exciting endeavor. With the right preparation, camera settings, and patience, you can capture breathtaking images of this awe-inspiring natural spectacle. Remember to enjoy the moment and embrace the beauty of the night sky. Happy shooting!

spirit seen in the northern lights

Dre Erwin


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Mountain Cliff Hiker with Dre Erwin

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