Several Shetland photographers, for example Ivan Hawick and Austin Taylor, have aurora images on their websites. Taking your own aurora photographs isn’t particularly difficult, provided that you have a tripod and your camera can be set for exposures of, say, 30 seconds, probably with a setting of 200 or 400ASA. Some cameras will take good pictures on an automatic setting with the flash turned off. The exposure and aperture will vary according to the brightness of the display, and you can of course experiment. You may need to use manual focusing.
Should you come to Shetland in winter solely to see the aurora? The straight answer is no, because you might well be disappointed, especially if you stay for just a few days. Our advice is that you should consider a visit if you enjoy the outdoors in winter and are happy to combine aurora-watching with some wonderful walking, some wildlife watching, use of our superb indoor leisure facilities and some good food. Virtually all of our archaeological sites are open, too and you might also fit in one of our fire festivals, which occur between January and March. In general, aurorae are most likely to be seen between mid-October and mid-March; it helps greatly to avoid times when there is a full moon and of course you should move away from areas with street lighting, particularly Lerwick, to have the best view.
Finally, don’t forget to wrap up warmly! Aurora-watching may take you outside for several hours on cold nights and several layers of insulation are best if you’re going to feel comfortable. If you’re away from your accommodation, a flask of hot tea or coffee is also a very good idea.