How to photograph the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) are a fantastic natural event and many people travel from afar around the World just to experience them. If you book a trip and want to see the Aurora you really need to plan it in advance and keep in mind the advices I’m going to give you in this post.

Best locations to see the Northern Lights

First of all, you need to be aware of which are the best locations to see the Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately this is an event that doesn’t happen everywhere. The best advice I can give you is to download a free app called Aurora (iOsAndroid). This app will show you the best locations to see the Northern Lights. Check the map often ’cause it will change based on the live predictions and forecasts.

The Aurora is easily seen on the North part of the globe so countries such as Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Russia, USA (Alaska) are generally the best choices. If the activity is very strong you can experience the Northern Lights even in other countries such as Denmark, Sweden, UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and more.

When the Northern Lights are visible

There are a various number of factors that affect the Aurora: to simplify, we can say that the 2 main factors are the global geomagnetic activity index (KP) and the cloud coverage. To see the Northern Lights you must have a strong activity (a KP of 3 is sometimes enough but the higher the better) and a clear sky. A KP of 5 means very high probability to see the Aurora but if the sky is too cloudy you won’t see a thing. To check the global geomagnetic activity index just refer to the app I’ve already suggested you to download: the Aurora app (iOsAndroid). The app will show you the KP forecasts and the viewing probability percentage in your area.

The camera can see what the eye can’t

Sometimes the Northern Lights are not so strong and you can barely see them with your eyes but a camera is able to record more light so in this case it is easy to see the Aurora with a camera.

How to photograph the Aurora Borealis

Finally the good stuff: forget your phone. To get a nice picture of the Northern Lights you need a proper camera and a tripod. In reality, if you have a tripod for your phone and you can set manual settings on it you can also take some “OK” pictures with it. In regards to the camera, any Mirrorless or DSLR can do but you need a lens with a fast aperture, something like f2.0 or faster (1.8, 1.4, 1.2). You can find cheap fixed lenses with a fast aperture for any camera. I suggest a wide focal length of 24mm (35mm equivalent) or less.

Now onto the technical process.

First of all, compose your image. When you like the composition, set the camera on your tripod. Then set the fastest aperture manually (again: f2.0, 1.8, ecc…) and the ISO at 400 or 800. Make sure to set the focus manually (set it to infinite or check with the magnifier if the sky or your main subject is in focus). After that, you need to try setting the shutter speed. Start with 15 seconds: if the photo is too bright, lower the shutter speed or the ISO (for example if you’re at 800 ISO go to 400 or even 200). If you’re already at your base ISO (200? 100? 64?) and the picture is still too bright (then maybe you need to go some darker place :)) try to lower the shutter speed from 15 seconds to 10 or less.

Photographing the Aurora Borealis: step by step

  • Find your composition;
  • Set the camera on the tripod;
  • Set the fastest aperture you can (f2.0, f1.8, f1.4, f1.2…);
  • Set the ISO to 400 or 800 (the lower the iso the less the noise in the image);
  • Set the shutter speed (start at 15 seconds and lower ISO or shutter speed if the picture is to bright);
  • Click! (better to take the picture with a remote or with the timer on, so you won’t move the camera when pressing the shutter button).

Some Northern Lights pictures

Now that you’ve learn how to shoot the perfect picture, here is some examples of Northern Lights’ pictures I’ve taken around the world:


Why I switched from Nikon to Sony and then to Fuji

A lot of people have asked me why I’ve recently switched from Sony to Fuji and the reasons are multiple so I’m going to write a short blog post to let you know why I did that (and just cause you’ve asked no, nobody has paid me, I just wish Fuji had :-)).


I may be a bit paranoid but having 2 sd cards on my camera to backup the pictures I’ve been taking makes me less nervous… i don’t know about you :).

Size and weight

The reason why I switched from Nikon to Sony at the beginning was because I wasn’t bringing my DSLR with me every time. Photography for me was kind of dead so when I found out that mirrorless cameras were out I bought a Sony A7. That camera gave me a new motivation to start shooting again and since then I’ve taken thousands of pictures with it. As the Sony system keep growing unfortunately their lenses keep getting bigger, heavier and more expensive. I know they are still pretty light in comparison with other full frame systems but it was too much for me. So after a few hikes I did in Norway I decided that my setup was too heavy and I had to choose something different. I went to a local shop here in Dublin to buy a Fuji x70 just to try it out. I was so impressed by the handling and the image quality of this tiny camera that in a few weeks I went to buy a Fuji Xpro 2 and a few lenses.

Build quality and handling

I’ve always been pretty disappointed with the build quality of the Sony A7. The camera had a problem with the sensor and sometimes I’ve noticed some strange glares in my pictures. The lenses were losing color and they were very easy to scratch. After a few weeks it seems they were overused and old. The build quality of the Xpro 2, instead, is very good. The camera feels solid, it is weather sealed and the lenses are very solid too. Everything feels premium and very durable. Also the handling of the Fuji is amazing. I love to shoot with this camera and it feels very good in my hands. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are very easy to change and everything is just a click away.

Image quality

I know the Sony A7 has a bigger sensor but the pictures from the new Fuji Xpro 2 sensor are amazing. Because of the lack of AA filter and the quality of the lenses the pictures are sharper. Maybe the dynamic range was better on the Sony but I don’t really like to push my editing too much and to give my pictures an HDR look. Also the colors are better on the Fuji. I prefer the warmer look that the pictures have, the Sony look instead was always a bit too cold. I shoot RAW but I feel I really have to change less to the pictures I take with the Fuji.


I can’t understand why I’ve to spend 3.2K euro for a Sony a7 with a 35mm f1.4 lens when I can have an Xpro 2 with a fantastic 23mm f1.4 and save money to buy a new lens or to travel somewhere nice :-). What about the size and the weight then? The Fuji 23mm f1.4 is half the size and weight of the Sony 35 f1.4 and I don’t think anybody will notice any difference in pictures taken with these two lenses.


My Sony A7 was a great camera but the Xpro 2 suits me better. Pictures are sharper, colors are nicer, it is smaller and lighter and I love its look and feeling. I think if you like your camera you will bring it with you more often and this always let you shoot better pictures. Choose the camera you like and don’t mind about brands or what other people say. If you like it you’ll use it more and it will improve your photography. And if you like Sony or Canon or Nikon or whatever other camera better we can still be friend, I don’t care about brands :-).

My best Iceland photos from my trip all in one video

As you’ve read on my blog I’ve been in Iceland in April for two weeks taking pictures for the Icelandic tourism board. It was a fantastic experience: the nature in Iceland is truly fantastic and views, landscapes and spots to photograph are everywhere. It wasn’t so difficult so to come back home with more then 3000 pictures!

To show you some of the best pictures I’ve taken I’ve decided to create a video slideshow. Here are all the pictures I liked the most in a short (hopefully not boring)
video. You can find more pictures from Iceland on my Iceland pictures section of my gallery.

I hope you enjoy the video, let me know in the comments below if you want to have more information about Iceland or if you want to know where a picture was taken.

Travel photography, what’s in my camera bag – Iceland 2017

I’ve been in Iceland for a project about 2 years ago. I’ve been there for just 4 days and I didn’t get the chance to explore the island. Since then, Iceland has been on my list. I had to go back and take some shots of that beautiful country.

Now the time has come and yes, I’m going back to Iceland!

With the support of the fantastic people at Inspired by Iceland and Icelander hotels I’ll be travelling around the country for 10 days with my wife. As I’ll be taking pictures (hopefully the weather will be nice with us) I want to let you know what gear I’m going to bring with me for this trip.

I like to travel light and I’m mostly exclusively a prime lenses shooter so you won’t find a long list of items here. I generally adapt to my camera as doing this let me think more about the composition and the shot I’m going to take. So here we go, this is the gear I will bring with me to Iceland (please bear in mind that nobody sponsored me and every item in the list has been meticulously tested and chosen :-)):

What's in my bag, Iceland 2017

  • The backpack, my trusty Manfrotto Advanced Active Backpack I
  • The camera, a Fujifilm X-PRO 2 (and a Fujifilm X-e2s as a backup just in case my X-PRO 2 breaks)
  • Three lenses: a Fujifilm 14mm f2.8 for landscape, a Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 for everything (I love this lens :-)), a Fujifilm 60mm f2.4 if I need something longer
  • The tripod, a Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber (yes I’m that lazy and I’ll be hiking around :-))
  • The igadgitz filters holder with 3 filters (Hoya ND1000 58mm, Haida ND1000 62mm, Hoya Polarizer 58mm )
  • The Expro dual battery charger
  • Sd cards and batteries
  • A MacBook pro (not in the picture) to backup and edit pictures and to assist all my customers around the world (I love you people :-))
  • A rubber bulb to clean sensor and lenses (I’ve been asked strange questions about it in various airports :-))
  • A microfiber cloth

That’s it guys, as you can see I like to keep it simple and use my mind (when it works) to bring home some good shots. I leave you now with some pictures I’ve taken the last time I was there and hopefully I’ll do better this time :-). You can follow me on Instagram, Flickr, 500px, Twitter or Facebook to find out more about my trip.

Reykjavikurtjorn - Reykjavik, Iceland - Travel photography

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall - Iceland - Travel photography

Hallgrimskirkja - Reykjavik, Iceland - Architecture photography

Sunrise in the Southern Peninsula - Sandvik, Iceland - Travel photography

One of my pictures has made to the final of the Siena International Photography Awards!

I’m glad to announce that one of my pictures has been shortlisted for the final of the Siena International Photography Awards!

Siena International Photo Award is one of the photo contests with the highest international participation ever. 2016 edition has received nearly 50.000 images from amateur and professional photographers from 130 countries worldwide so I’m proud that they picked my work for the final stage.

Wish me luck for the final I hope I could win one of the final prices.

Unfortunately I can’t reveal which of my pictures they have shortlisted but I’ll update you as soon as I’ll get some news.

One of my pictures makes National Geographic Daily Dozen!

One of my pictures has been featured in the National Geographic Daily Dozen of today January 2nd 2017. To get a picture selected by National Geographic is such an honor for every photographer and if you help me voting it here the picture could be published in their magazine.

Thanks for your help in advance, I hope you will have a great 2017.

Arch rock - Joshua tree national park, USA - Black and white street photography

Best Lightroom presets for landscape

I don’t really like presets. I always edit my pictures starting from the basic panel; then I add some brushes to dodge and burn or to do some local changes.

Then Sleeklens contacted me to let me try their Lightroom presets for landscape photography. They’ve sent me the Through the woods bundle for a review so I accepted the challenge: let’s see if I can change idea on presets.

Now I’ve installed it and I’ve tried the bundle on some of my pictures. I’ve to say they did a really good job in giving the photographer the option to stack settings. You essentially have a lot of basic presets that you can combine to achieve the final result you want. They also provide some brushes you can use for local adjustments. As you can see from the screenshot below I’ve edited one of my pictures I took in Tuscany with their presets and the result was actually pleasant.

Below you can see the before and after. I started from a balanced exposure to create a more appealing picture in this case using exclusively their presets and brushes.

Playing with these bundle I must say didn’t change my idea about presets. I mean, I don’t like it when they change your picture with a lot of filters. Presets stacking though is a smart way to speed up your workflow. I was actually already using some basic presets I’ve created to repeat some task I was doing over and over. So I guess this is a clever approach to make your workflow faster and efficient.

If you want to have more information about Sleeklens and their products visit their website.

Obscure Street: a street photography exhibition in Dublin

From Friday the 8th of July until Thursday the 21st of July Obscure Street will showcase the work of about 60 street photographers from all around the world. The exhibition will be part of the PhotoIreland festival and will be hold at In-Spire Galerie Dublin (56 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, 3 min walk Connolly Station Dublin ).

I’m proud to be part of this exhibition with one of my pictures. Here is a list of some of the most popular featured photographers: Richard Sandler from New York, Tatsuo Suzuki from Japan, Jessie Marlow from Australia, Dougie Wallace from Scotland, Gabi Ben Avraham from Israel, Nick Turpin from London, Sarah Choi from Hong Kong & many more.

If you’re around and have time to visit the exhibition let me know so we can meet and know each other! The gallery will be open: Tue-Wed 11am-5pm, Thu 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm. For more information about opening hours, location, artists and works please visit the official page on the PhotoIreland website.

New California pictures available as poster and prints in my wall art shop

As you know if you read my blog I’ve been lately taking pictures in the US. I’ve been around in Los Angeles, Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park and other beautiful places in California.

If you like to buy fine art photography from emerging photographers you can visit the California pictures section in my wall art shop and buy a print or a poster that could be valued a fortune in the next few years :-).

You can find some beautiful sunset or sunrise I’ve photographed in my two weeks trip or some street photography pictures I’ve taken in Venice Beach or in some landmarks in Los Angeles.

Not only that, I’ve been taking pictures of landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes in the beautiful Malibu, Santa Barbara, Joshua Tree national park, Death Valley and obviously LA.

All my pictures are released under Creative Commons license so you can use them for free as long as you give me credit and a link to my website.

I hope you enjoy and if you do please support my work buying a print. I’m also available for photoshoot so if you want to hire me or have more information about my pictures get in contact.

You can also check my california landscape art for sale on FineArtAmerica.

Death Valley national park photography tips

A few weeks ago I’ve been on holiday in Death Valley, one of the most popular places among photographers. I now understand why! Death Valley is a fantastic area for taking photographs. I thought it could be boring with all that sand and desert but there are so many different areas and views, you can’t really get annoyed and miss some beautiful shots.

One of the places I’ve liked the most in Death Valley is Racetrack, a peaceful valley where you can see a unique natural phenomenon: the moving stones. Nothing fancy here because you can’t really see rocks moving in front of you but you can follow the trails that will point you to the closest rock that the wind moved somewhere else during the night when the surface gets iced. As the area is full of rocks and lines you want to bring with you an ultra wide lens to emphasize the foreground and the leading line created by the rock. You can see an example of what I’m talking about below. I shot this picture with a Fuji X-T10 and a Rokinon 12mm lens.

Racetrack - Death Valley, United States - Landscape photography

As you can see the result is a unique frame which will leave the viewer curious and shocked at the same time. To reach racetrack be sure to have a 4×4 car. I rented a Toyota Rav4 which served me very well! You can find the exact location of this place in the map below.

Another beautiful spot in Death Valley you don’t want to miss is Zabriskie Point. This is another unique place where you can admire some fantastic cliffs the nature has designed. I’ve never seen something similar and I can assure you that being there (and in Racetrack) is something you want to experience at least once in your life. You can see a picture I took in Zabriskie point below. Luckily there was a badass guy looking at the cliffs which add a sense of scale in the shot. I’ve merged five different shots to make a panorama. I suggest you to bring a wide angle lens. You really want to capture the beauty of this fantastic place. I’ve used an 18mm fuji lens to take the pictures and Lightroom to make a pano.

Zabriskie point - Death Valley National Park, United States - Landscape photography

To be sure to reach the location I’ll leave you the exact location of this place which is one of the most popular spots in Death Valley.

Finally I really enjoyed Mesquite Sand Dunes. Here you can really feel the desert. Leave the car at the parking lot and have fun walking (and running like a crazy baby) on the dunes. It could be tough to hike here but you won’t forget this place. Colors are amazing but the sand is particularly nice when the sun is low. The golden color of the dunes is even better when the light is soft and the shadows are long and nice. The blue of the sky then gives a fantastic contrast to the pictures. You can see a picture I’ve taken in this beautiful place below. I’ve used the 18mm fuji lens here which is my walkaround and favorite lens.

Mesquite Sand Dunes - Death Valley, United States - Color street photography

Check the location of this area in the map below.

If you want to really experience Death Valley be sure to stay there for at least two or three days. I’ve spent a day in the valley and another one in Racetrack which is a difficult place to reach. Bring with you a lot of water and comfortable clothes. I’ve been there in March and the temperature was about 20/25 celsius degrees.

I hope you’ll find these tips useful. If you think I’ve missed something please leave a comment below to make this article better.

You can also check my death valley art for sale on FineArtAmerica.