Discover amazing astro photography with Northern Lights Photographer of the Year

Northern Lights
(Image credit: Ben Maze)

If you had to pick one natural phenomenon that many astro photographers chase after, it would likely be the northern lights. Not only is it one of the most sought after subjects for astro photography, it's also an incredible display of nature's beauty. With all of this in mind, it's not surprising that the aurora is the sole subject of the Northern Lights Photographer of the Year collection from travel photography blog Capture the Atlas. 

This collection has images taken from all around the world, including Russia, Finland, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Antartica and more. Overall, 25 photographer of 18 different nationalities contributed their incredible astro photography to the collection.

• Read more: Best camera for astrophotography

Dan Zafra, the editor of Capture the Atlas, curates these images throughout the year in preparation for the annual publication in December. He not only considers shots taken by some of the most renowned photographers, he also looks for new talent and fresh locations where the Northern Lights haven't been photographed before.

One of the most impressive images was taken by Ben Maze in Tasmania, Australia (above), showing us what the Aurora looks like in the southern hemisphere. He says, "I've had the incredible fortune to witness the Southern Lights twice during two photography trips to Tasmania. Captured in this image is a trifecta of astronomical phenomena that made for some of the best astro photography conditions one can witness in Australia, namely, the setting Milky Way galactic core, zodiacal light, and of course, the elusive Aurora Australis." 

(Image credit: Agnieszka Mrowka)

Meanwhile, other photographers gave us a more traditional take on Aurora photos, with snowy vistas and arctic conditions. Agnieszka Mrowka captured a serene still of the Northern Lights over a glacier lagoon in Jökulsárlón, Iceland. "It was late September, and finally, the perfect conditions for the northern Lights came together. +Kp6 converged with unusually calm weather and the moon illuminating the ice… It was a fierce and peaceful night to remember."

Discover some of the incredible astro photography from the 2020 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year collection below – or check out the Capture the Atlas website to see the full set. 

"This image shows a strong and colorful aurora over the IceCube Neutrino observatory in the South Pole and is part of a longer time-lapse series. The South Pole is probably one of the most remote and challenging environments to do photography, and it is strenuous for both humans and technology. To achieve 24h-long time-lapse shots, you need some creativity to heat and insulate your equipment in order to keep it running, and even rotating, in temperatures ranging down to -80ºC (-112 ºF). In my case, this was a learning curve over multiple months, with a lot of trial and error and frostbite. On the upside, once you have tackled all the challenges, you have plenty of reasons to be proud of your shots." (Image credit: Benjamin Eberhardt)

"It was a cold and windy night in November, and one of the most spectacular moments I have experienced chasing the Northern Lights. The wind-chill, added to the spray coming from the waterfall, was part of the adventure. The shooting conditions were challenging, as I constantly had to wipe out the lens and make sure that the composition and exposure were correct. Finally, the Lights exploded and all the effort paid off." (Image credit: Virgina Yllera)

"I found this unknown place on the Lofoten Islands as I was moving around the Gimsoya Islands. That night was very cold, with temperatures reaching -20º C. It was probably one of the best shows of watching and photographing the Northern Lights I’ve ever experienced, because in a place like this, it’s not easy to find something new with such a magical foreground and the kp5/kp6 Northern Lights dancing all night long. For this shot, I did a focus-stacking of three shots, two for the foreground at f/8, 10s, ISO 400 and one for the sky at f/4, 2s and ISO 640." (Image credit: Roksolyana Hilevych)

"I’ve been hunting landscapes and Northern Lights on Russia’s Kola Peninsula for several years and I still find new spots. I found this stone beach on the coast of the Barents Sea a few years ago. At the time, I was mesmerized by the shape of the boulders, which moved with the rumble of the ocean waves, as well as the steep mountains rising from the sea. I tried to shoot the Aurora here for a long time, and one day, I got lucky and captured this image. The photo is very simple and consists of two shots; one short exposure to freeze the movement of the Aurora in the sky, and another longer exposure for the rocks." (Image credit: Sergey Korolev)

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.