The Aurora Borealis In Ayr, Scotland

The Aurora Borealis is a natural wonder that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, the beauty of the night sky lighting up in all its glory is a true testament to the natural world and how beautiful it really is, especially at night. Getting these images was by sheer luck and determination. I had no idea that the Aurora Borealis was going show that night and even if it did I would have never thought I would be photographing it in Ayr. So how did it all happen I hear you say? Well, I was at home just watching tv and I started reading reports on Twitter of people saying they could see the Aurora Borealis, most of these people were from the North of Scotland so I still believed my chances were a little slim. I had a look outside my window and I couldn't see any stars at all as there was cloud cover, still my hopes of seeing it were quite slim. I left it for about 20 minutes and more and more reports were flooding in on Twitter and now people from Northern England were seeing the Northern Lights. I went upstairs to my office, switched all the lights off and looked north. The sky had cleared and there it was! A green glow snaked across the sky above me. I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and drove down to Ayr harbour as I believed this would be best place for me that wouldn't have that much light pollution due to me looking North into the sea and Arran. Make sure to click on the images for a larger view.

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When I eventually got to the harbour I could see the green glow in the sky so I instantly new where the camera needed to be pointed. Seeing the Aurora Borealis with the naked eye can be quite difficult at first as when in low light the eye finds it hard to distinguish colours but your DSLR will see it perfectly. When I saw the first few images the excitement was building up in me as I've never seen the Northern Lights before. I didn't want to point the camera in random places so that I could just photograph the aurora, I needed to think as a photographer. Composition came first, I knew that the pier has some really nice leading lines which could work well for me and also the structures at the end could work as well. I started to make my way along the pier stoping every couple meters to take a shot and also make sure my exposure and settings were correct.

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I didn't stop taking images for around 2 hours, constantly changing my compositions, lenses and trying to get as many shots as I could because I don't know when I'll see this again. Light pollution was an issue as you can see in the above image from the glow of the lights from Troon were starting to bleed into the light of the aurora but I'm glad the clouds were there as they helped brake the light pollution from the northern lights. Having the light flash on the structure was also a great bonus as it added another element to the image that brings it all together. As well as seeing the traditional green glow from the Aurora, I could also see a red light in the sky, it was quite hard to see with the naked eye but I could definitely see it my images. You can see the red glow in the image below, it's faint but there! It eventually started to fade and we were left with more of a green glow.

I started to gather quite a few images of the aurora using my 16-35mm lens but I wanted some more close-up images of just the aurora without including any of the landscape. I changed my lens and put on the 50mm f/1.8 on my Canon 5D Mark III which would then enable me to crop into the aurora and not include much else. I wanted to just focus on the colours and patterns of the aurora when it moved through the sky, my shutter speed was down to around 15 seconds now to reduce the stars from becoming trails and if my exposure was too long I would lose details in the aurora and it would've become a green mush.

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Photographing the Aurora Borealis was a huge achievement me, definitely one I can check off my bucket-list! I always thought the first place I would see them would be Iceland, Norway or Sweden but no it was 10 minutes from my home. Unbelievable. I feel truly honoured to have witnessed its beauty and I cannot wait to travel the world on the hunt for the beautiful Aurora Borealis!

After my experience with Aurora Borealis, I went straight home and started to upload everything onto my computer. After I finished editing the images I uploaded a few of them and went to bed. I woke up to more emails than I could read! My images were turning up on different news sites and everywhere I looked I could see one of my images. It was a great feeling! In the end my images were posted on the Daily Mail website, The Guardian, The Telegraph and a few other sites (I've included a few links below this text). And then on Saturday I also saw my images in the Scottish Daily Mail and the Daily Record. It has been a hectic few days for me, with lots of phone calls and emailing but very exciting also.

The Mail Online: CLICK HERE

The Telegraph: CLICK HERE

The Guardian: CLICK HERE

BuzzFeed: CLICK HERE

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