HELENA — Even if you missed last week's northern lights, there were plenty of people that took pictures to share the phenomenon. You don't necessarily need to be a professional photographer to take pictures of the lights, but you might need to do something with your phone you are not familiar with.
If you are an Android person, be sure to have the camera set to pro or manual mode and activate the 'mf' icon on your device. Turn off the flash. For the light sensitivity, it is best to set to 1600 and above. Set the white balance to around 3200k, giving the image a more natural and slightly colder look. Using a long shutter speed is vital. If the aurora is bright, the shutter speed should be between 1-5 seconds. If the lights are slow and dim, set your shutter speed to 20-30 seconds.
If you are an iPhone person, the iPhone 11 and newer models automatically have a night mode when low light is detected. Turn off the flash. iPhones have a hidden menu that you can access by tapping the arrow at the top of the screen. Tap on the night mode icon and slide the exposure time to the 10-second maximum. In the same menu, tap the plus/minus icon to drop the exposure to a negative value like -0.7.
No matter what kind of phone you have, using a tripod to keep the phone absolutely still is essential for crystal clear pics. But don't spend all your time trying to get the perfect picture, sit back and enjoy.