Few natural phenomena can match the enchantment of the Northern Lights so it’s no wonder Capture the Atlas has a whole photography competition dedicated to it. The Aurora Borealis, with its mesmerizing hues of green and violet, transforms the night sky into a canvas of ethereal beauty, casting its spell on everyone fortunate enough to witness its dance.
As we approach the solar maximum of our current solar cycle, anticipation is building for Northern Lights displays at lower latitudes and in novel locales where the Aurora has rarely been captured before. This cosmic spectacle is inspiring photographers worldwide to plan and execute nighttime shoots that result in these awe-inspiring images. The 6th edition of the Northern Lights Photographer of the Year (NLPOTY) showcases the 25 best captures from around the globe from locations known locations such as Iceland to more unexpected places like Wales, UK.
The NLPOTY offers a visual journey that spans the globe, from the remote boreal forests of the Arctic to the expansive landscapes of Australia and New Zealand. Along the way, witness the Northern Lights gracing the skies above spectacular lakes, majestic mountains, and pristine beaches, creating a symphony of colors that transcends borders and cultures.
Among the top 25 images is Nickolas Warner’s Storm Over Sukakpak (shot on a Sony A7R IV) taken in Alaska, USA on a night when the sky exploded with more energy than he’d ever seen in a decade of photographing the Aurora. Lost Who I Want to Be taken on a Canon 6D by Jordan McInally captures the Aurora Australis (the southern lights) over the Brooks Mountain Range in glorious hues of purple, pink and yellow while a photo by Frøydis Dalheim titled Circle of Life (taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) perfectly embodies what we dream up when we think of the Northern Lights with the forests of Lapland, Finland lit up by greeny turquoise light.
Choosing a favorite entry is incredibly difficult when they’re all so stunning but for me, The Dance of the Green Lady shot with a Nikon Z5 by Luis Cajete has the slight edge. Taken in Haifoss, Iceland, it captures not only the beauty of the greenish-pink northern lights that dance in the sky but a breathtaking waterfall situated beneath them. He explains, “When we saw the first green lights through the window, we jumped outside. The sky exploded above us; the Northern Lights moved swiftly, and the strong wind continued to put us to the test.”
Seeing the Northern Lights in person is a bucket list item of mine but until I can afford to go to one of the places best known for them, I will continue to marvel at these glorious photos.
Check out the best cameras for astrophotography and start capturing the majestic night sky