I had been unsuccessfully hunting the Northern Lights near my home in the North East of England for just over 7 years. My first attempt was to stand in the darkness on the pier at Saltburn with a bridge camera, and I couldn't work out how to extend the shutter speed to capture a long exposure. This started a bit of an obsession, and for years after that, even the slight hint of any aurora activity meant I was straight in the car heading to the coast. Sadly, this led to many dark nights standing around in the freezing cold, only managing to photograph clouds.
I caught a couple of near misses over the years, hints of green behind the clouds, but not the killer photo I was after. Finally, at the start of March 2023, I was on a week-long photography workshop on the Isle of Skye. This coincided with some unprecedented levels of Aurora Activity, and we were in one of the best places in the country to capture it. We were having a nice meal when my phone started pinging with updates, and it became clear something big was happening.
We all jumped in the minibus and headed back to our cottage with shouts of "Oh my god" from people sitting by the windows who could see the Aurora in the sky while travelling. We all collected our gear and pilled back onto the bus. The workshop leaders decided Loch Fada would be an ideal viewpoint facing north. When we pulled up, I started running and settled on a viewpoint at the waterside. The loch was mirror calm, and the Aurora continued to build, getting stronger and stronger. There was some light pollution from cars passing on the road, but thankfully, the traffic wasn't constant, giving us some periods of darkness.
The hour we spent by the loch was one of the best experiences of my life. I'd been trying so hard for 7 years to capture the lights, and finally, I had succeeded in the most incredible way. I set my camera to take multiple shots, stood back and let my eyes adjust to the darkness so I could watch the pillars of green moving across the sky with my own eyes. It was an absolutely stunning experience I'll never forget.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor