03/18/2015 03:00 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT

Great northern lights photos need a good lens - and good luck

The northern lights are expected to dazzle much of Canada this week, which means those interested in capturing the swirls of greens and reds may want to get their cameras ready.

Prince George, B.C., photographers Asta Sanders and her husband Leonard have snapped vivid photos of the aurora borealis before, but warn that capturing those brilliant shades of jade can be as much about luck as it is about skill.

"Very often the situation [was], we knew — OK, we might have the opportunity to shoot the northern lights, but we went in and out, in and out of the house and we couldn't see them," Sanders said in an interview with Daybreak North.

Here are some of the Sanders' tips on the best way to capture the northern lights with a digital SLR camera.

Get out of the city

"We live in the middle of the bush so we have a nice spot already, but you might go out to a lake," said Asta Sanders.

"You need darkness. You can't do it, really, in the city."

Use a tripod

"Or set your camera up on a bean bag," said Leonard Sanders. "A bean bag off your car would work."

Invest in a wide-angle lens

"You want a 24 mm — maybe even wider if you can get one," said Leonard Sanders.

"And set [the aperture] at f/2.8, because you want to bring in as much light as possible, and (set) an ISO of anywhere from 400 to 1200."

Got a great shot of the northern lights? Tweet your photo to @cbcnewsbc

To hear the full interview with Leonard and Asta Sanders, click on the audio labelled: Tips for shooting the northern lights