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Colorful aurora suspended over spruce trees. Canon 5D Mark III, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, 25 secs @ f/2.8, ISO 1600.
I’m often asked about where to go to photograph the aurora in the Fairbanks area. Really, all is necessary is an interesting foreground, and any given clump of trees can serve that purpose well. If you go to some of the higher domes in the Fairbanks area, it is often windy, and can lack trees or foreground subjects. This is not intrinsically bad, but it is not necessary to be high on a ridge to capture good aurora photos.

2013 is reported to be a great year for aurora borealis photography because the sun is at a peak in the 11 year solar cycle. This has inspired many to make quests to destinations that offer high aurora viewing probabilities. In Alaska, Fairbanks becomes a landing point for many because of its northern latitude and a chance to see the aurora. I released my first eBook a few weeks ago titled “How to Photograph the Northern Lights” with the express purpose to empower photographers with the information to make their journey a success.

With that book project behind me, I’m now getting ready to get back in the field myself with hopeful anticipation for some clear skies and dancing northern lights. March is a great month to photograph in Alaska. Night time temperatures are still pretty chilly, but the sun pours forth a little warmth during the day. I’ve got a few new lenses to put through an aurora photography test and will hopefully have some comments to share about them in a few weeks. Specifically, I’ll be testing the 21mm Zeiss f/2.8 and the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4.

If you are at all serious about attempting to shoot the northern lights, check out my eBook. How I wish I had a resource like that when I first started. It would have saved me not only many hours of trial and error, but many dollars as well.

  • koichi takimoto - 実際に見ることはできませんが、写真に取られているその瞬間の、



  • paul wain - Halfway through the e-book and loving it, thanks. Just taken delivery of my new tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at-x lens, hopefully I can get some Aurora shots in Finland this December.
    Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Artists - Amazing click mate. Love it the reflection of lights shade.ReplyCancel

  • Patrick Endres - Phyllis, Looking forward to a great tip! Let’s hope for clear skies and solar storms.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis Burchett - Bought your iBook so will read on the plane on my way to see you guys in a week or so….looking forward to lots of aurora shots!ReplyCancel

Both the patterns in the clouds above and the ice below create an interesting presentation of a penguins habitat - life on icebergs. Photographing with wider angle lenses help show the environment. Tunnel vision is a common propensity when photographing wildlife and it is a learning process to back off a bit and show the viewer what is happening above and below your subject. Canon’s 24-105mm is a great lens for responding to compositional variations common when photographing from a small boat that moves around and repositions frequently.

Adelie penguin on iceberg, Antarctica. Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS (32mm). 1/1600 sec @ f8, ISO 200

  • Kathy Jura - The perspective is stunning…and most humbling.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Simpson - This one is amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Lois Bryan - Well said, Patrick … I am guilty of “tunnel vision” when shooting wildlife myself … as you’ve so beautifully shown us, the backing off and getting some of the environment in the image is great advice!!ReplyCancel

Curious adelie penguin, Antarctica. Canon 1Ds mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (105mm), 1/500 sec @ f/8, ISO 200.

In keeping with the theme of penguins, per my post a few days ago, here is another photo from a favorite encounter I had a few years ago. Adelie penguins seem to be the most curious of all the penguins I encountered in Antarctica. When photographing, it is both a challenge and a concern of the photographer to get close to animals, yet not so close that you cause stress out or negatively influence the animal. Sometimes things work in your favor, sometimes they don’t. But it is a delight when an animal actually comes running up to you. Thats what this little penguin did, along with a few of his buddies when we approached the edge of an iceberg in a small boat. The group of penguins literally came running to the edge of the iceberg and looked intently at us, with this humorous and curious gaze. Fun times with these funny birds!


  • Patrick Endres - Tin Man, You are right on, that was such a funny little bird, and so much fun to photograph and watch.ReplyCancel

  • Tin Man Lee - Patrick, I love this pic so much. The Adelie Penguin looks so cute. Love the eye, the pose, the ice and the blue background. So refreshing!ReplyCancel

Gentoo penguin. Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f/5.6L (280mm), 1/400 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 800.

Penguins are funny to watch. There is something intrinsic about their movement on land that seems awkward and humorous, yet at the same time, they are remarkably mobile. In the water, they are nothing less than amazing as they seem to move with effortlessness, efficiency and grace. This Gentoo penguin was one of many that was coming and going, to and from the sea, bringing food back to the nesting site. I laid down on the snow and waited for about 20 minutes as the birds walked by, some in groups, some solo. The most difficult part of this shot was getting one without people in the frame as there were many of us enjoying the sights along the shore.

How to Photograph the Northern Lights eBook

Text and photography by Patrick J. Endres

with aurora science notes by Neal Brown

200 pages | 100+ photos | 100+ illustrations

Price $19.99

No Ipad? Buy downloadable PDF

Click here for a preview and further details, screen shots and table of contents

How to Photograph the Northern Lights eBook

New Release! Now available on iTunes

2013 is declared to be the year to photograph the northern lights. This is due to the 11 year solar cycle reaching its maximum, making the release timing perfect. I’ve been working on the this eBook for a long time, and many people have been anxiously awaiting its release. I’m happy to say that it is now available on Itunes for viewing on the Ipad. I realize that not everyone has an Ipad, so I’m working on getting it available in other platforms. In the interim, you can purchase a .PDF.


This book is written for any photographer who plans on making an excursion to photograph the northern lights. It is extremely detailed and comprehensive, yet accessible to the beginner and the professional. Whether you take a guided photo tour or go on your own, the investment is huge. And this investment is too great for simply experimenting. You can’t afford to make mistakes—and there are many that can easily happen—trust me. I targeted this book to mitigate those potential mistakes. If you follow my advice—and the aurora shows up—you will have success.


I wrote this book because of the growing number of questions I received through my website and blog about photographing the aurora. Often those questions required a few questions from me, which required some degree of dialogue. The volume of inquiries became more than I could address to any degree of depth.


The insider information, or trade secrets on how to photograph the aurora used to be held very tightly by many professionals. The digital revolution has changed that to some degree. I’ve offered a small aurora photography tutorial on my blog for many years, but that is just a snippet compared to this eBook. As for the information in the eBook, as one colleague said, “you sold the farm”. I’ve tapped my two decade career of aurora photography and presented it so you can successfully capture your own photos of the aurora


Yes, I’m working on that now. It is currently on Itunes, but please contact me directly if you would like a copy now, and I can offer an alternative.


My current plans are to make this available in a print version, although no specific release date has been declared.

Aurora borealis photography ebook

eBook by Patrick J Endres

  • Danny Archibald - The book is awesome! I’m heading to Fairbanks next week and just found that you released it. Having read your articles here, it was nice to have the book as it was very detailed. As luck would have it, I have the same camera as you mentioned using so the settings and ISO limitations mentioned helped immensely. What really has me excited is the knowledge and insight you provided in regards to foreground in my landscape. I didn’t know why so many recommended scoping out a site in the daylight. Now I know why. Glad I won’t just have photos of the sky. Thank you Patrick.ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - I just returned from Fairbanks, Alaska, my first trip to photograph the northern lights. I have been following your blog and emails for several months now and was excited to learn a couple of days before my trip that you had published the How to Photograph the Northern Lights eBook. I immediately purchased the book and read it on my airplane flight to Fairbanks. The chapters, “ Dealing With the Cold,” “Aurora Exposure,” “Choosing Cameras and Photo Gear,” and “In the Field” were great, but I found “Preparing Your Camera Gear” to be invaluable and reviewed it nightly as I prepared my camera for the capturing the lights that night. I was able to get some good pictures as a result of using your book.ReplyCancel

  • Terra - I am attending a Winter Skies workshop in Churchhill Northern Studies Centre the Feb 28-March 5th 2013 group. Your book has become our main reference for problem solving with the various cameras we are dealing with. Starman (Roger) our fearless leader sends his regards. You have made 18 people very happy.ReplyCancel