Aurora Borealis over Dundee

The Northern Lights

A funny thing happened recently on the way to Dundee. It was night, and I was taking the high road out of town, toward Strathkinness, when I saw a man standing with a tripod in a farm field. I slowed down to ask if he’d seen the amazing crescent moon that I’d been chasing over the hill on my way up, but just lost as I saw him. He said yes, but now he was photographing the aurora borealis over Dundee. I looked over and could make out what I suspected was the aurora.

Many times, this far north in Scotland, we can see the Northern Lights, but with light pollution, recording it on film often requires long exposures. He was shooting it at about 2 minutes of exposure time, he said. I thanked him, wished him luck, drove up the hill — not having a tripod with me — then thought sod it, why not, pulled into a field, killed my car lights and balanced my Fuji digital rangefinder on top of a fence post. I didn’t know how to make it do an exposure of longer than 30 seconds (I do now), so that’s what I dialed in, using the self-timer so that after I pressed the camera, it paused 2 seconds before taking the picture, to reduce shake.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any shooting stars while I was out, but I guess you can’t have everything.