21st - 22nd January 2005
Sometimes luck favours the bold. I often stay overnight at a location to get an early start in the morning. Finishing work in Tyneside I decided to drive up into Northumberland to do some photography and arrived near Dunstanburgh Castle just as the light of sunset was fading.
I made myself some food and settled down down for a read as the darkness settled.
It was about 7 pm that I noticed something odd. there was a strange light in the sky, the sort of light you see hanging over a city, but this was out over the sea?
I put out my reading light and paid more attention. The sky was clear so it was not reflected from cloud. with the light out I could make out shifting colours. What my dark adapted eyes could now see my mind was not quite ready to believe.
It was the Northern Lights......
At this time I had never seen the Aurora Borealis before so It came as a bit of a shock really. I had heard that they were occasionally seen in the UK but mainly in Scotland and I certainly never dreamed I would see them in such a wonderful location.
The only problem now was how to get them in a picture.
I grabbed the camera and tripod and headed for open ground. Cameras meter wouldn’t stand a chance so I set it on bulb and started counting the exposures out, checking the monitor in between. Twenty seconds seemed to be the optimum wide open.
Armed with this information I headed for the castle. I was expecting to get a silhouette against the sky but to my surprise there was enough light to show a remarkable amount detail in the walls too.
In the morning the sun rise almost seemed to be in competition with the celestial light of the night before but the morning’s glory soon gave way to cloudy skies and the poor lighting that would last for most of the day.
After breakfast I headed North along the coast to Bamburgh.
I used the remains of the day mainly to scout new viewpoints.
The old Coastguard station standing in the dunes has seen far better days now.
As the tide receded it was Lindisfarne that was my next destination.