Callanish Stone Circle, Isle of Lewis, Scotland by Patrick McNeill

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Picture Story

I was in Scotland in April, which is a nice time to go if you want to avoid having too many tourists around. Working my way up the Western Hebrides islands, from Barra to Lewis, I knew that I wanted to stop at this amazing site. These standing stones at Callanish are over 4500 years old and I highly recommend a visit. Actually the entire chain of Hebridean islands are not to be missed. Ancient monument, white sand beaches, excellent seafood, etc. I had been photographing a nearby ancient fortress, Dun Carloway, in beautiful golden hour light with the plan being to jump in the car and capture the sunset at Callanish.

It was an excellent sunset and there were a few other tourists around, but I continued shooting into the blue hour and everyone else disappeared. Imagine having this ancient site to yourself under a blue sky and full moon. To capture the magical feeling of the moment I decided to try some light painting and make one of the stones glow. This was a very tricky shot as I had to line up the moon with one of the stones to get a nice "moonstar" effect (which required a smaller aperture setting, f/16 in this case) while the moon was moving through the sky. It required me to adjust the camera after every shot to re-align the moon. During the long exposure I ran to the right side of the frame and used my headlamp to give the tallest central stone a magical/otherworldly glow. As those who have done light painting before can attest, it took a few tries to get the lighting right. But I was glad I put in the effort as I feel the shot captures the feeling of being there during the blue hour.


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