Aurora Shines over Eilean Donan.


Story behind the image:

I have been to Scotland many times over the past ten years, as a photographer, what is not to love, it constantly draws me back. This was my first trip back since Covid so was really pleased to be back. We have arrived in Scotland in our campervan on the 17th April. We spent a number of days in Glencoe and then on the beautiful Isle of Mull (a place I had not been before and I a place I cannot wait to go back to, it's incredibly beautiful). Skye is a must for photographers and even though I had been there many times, I felt the pull to go back! However, this time I really wanted to stop at Eilean Donan for more than just the whistle-stop visit and shoot some sunset and 'blue hour' (twilight) photography, instead of just high-tailing it straight out to Skye.


I had seen a number of notifications pop up my phone from both Irish Aurora Chasers and Aurora Research Scotland that there was a possibility of strong Aurora being produced from a G4-5 Geo Magnetic Storm. Now, I wasn't holding out too much hope as there was cloud and there was moon, but still, I dared to dream! So I went out around 6.50pm to set up for golden hour and sunset shots (alas the sun and sky did not play ball here). Not to worry, blue hour was coming! I was getting some beautiful blue hour shots of the castle, waiting for the water to settle so I could get some nice reflections and, if I had only come away with those images, I would have been still have been more than pleased.


It was quite a cool evening, the clouds were becoming more intermittent. I was looking at the sky, which was not yet even fully dark and thought I saw something like a pillar, and sure enough, when I let the camera expose for a few seconds, it was clearly visible on the screen. I couldn't believe it. The camera of course can pick up light and colours that our eyes cannot see as we can expose for any duration of time we want. This was a treat, but the real treat was yet to come. It was getting darker, the moon was getting lower. I stopped using all lights, phone etc so that my eyes could adjust as well as possible to the darkness (with the lights of the castle!) It did not take long for me to not only faintly, but really clearly see the aurora, not only to the north, but to the the west and amazingly at these latitudes it was visible overhead. To say I was excited was an understatement, I was like a kid at Christmas. I managed to drag myself away to call my partner (and our dog) out to have a look. Once the eyes adjusted, I could even see a certain amount of colour with the naked eye which was just an unbelievable experience, and it lasted and lasted! I drove over to Skye Bridge around midnight to get some images from there, but by the time I got there, it was clouded over and barely visible. So I drove back to Eilean Donan, by now the lights of the castle had been turned off, the sky was partially cloudy and I shot some more aurora for another half an hour or so before it appeared to wane and was lost to the clouds. Absolutely a night to remember! These are the nights we dream of as photographers!


As photographers we can shoot so many photographs, but one or two from each shoot will stay with you always and become your 'pets'. This aurora shot that we are talking about is one and this one 'Reflections on Loch Achtriochtan' which has amassed in excess of 9,000 reactions on one social media group as well as just being published by the prestigious 1x.com, are the two from this trip that will stay with me. 


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