Aurora Hunting on the Banks of the Tay. / by Michael Rennie

I was just nodding off to sleep when my phone buzzed, my brother Blair messaging the family group chat to say there was faint aurora over Dundee.

He attached a couple of images from a friend on Stronsay showing some awesome green aurora, so I had to look. I got out of bed and stuck my head between the curtains and saw the aurora over Dundee!

I ran down stairs and grabbed the camera, a couple of lenses, tripod and my cruiser skateboard. Flung my jacket on and rammed a hat onto my head and rolled down to Wormit Bay. The Merry Dancers were putting on a good show and I snapped a few test shots, plenty of light in the sky and the calm water reflecting the colour beautifully.

I ran further along the beach towards the bridge as the aurora seemed to strengthen, so I stopped at the 'big rock' and set up for a silhouette shot. This once blew me away with the colour, especially considering it was only a 5 second exposure!

Watching the Show

I had to move quickly to get as many different shots in while the show was still in full swing so I ran along the slick seaweed towards the bridge to set-up the next shot on the West side of the Tay Rail Bridge.

Columns

With my battery indicator now blinking red and with the aurora fading slightly I clambered along the beach to the old safety boat shed, now partially burnt out, then out onto the base of one of the pillars for the original bridge which collapsed in 1879.

The view from here perfectly leads the eye to Dundee as you follow the line of foundations for the old pillars of the long gone bridge but I knew my battery was close to dead.

I set up for a longer exposure to capture the now weaker colour in the sky and left the camera to do it's thing. As I was waiting for the shot to finish and then for the noise reduction dark frame I was getting spooked out by noises from the bridge above and really had the adrenaline pumping, it was like being a kid again, scared of the dark. The longest minute passed and the shot was complete, just enough time to review on the camera back and then the battery died. 

Pillars of Light

With that shot in the bag it was time to get home to bed and to share these photos on-line. I clambered up the rocks to the disused path to Bay Road, up the steps and onto the road. Feeling slightly silly for letting myself get so scared, I hopped onto my board and rolled home.

The response to the photo's was unreal, with thousands of likes, hundreds of shares and featured on the BBC website. ITV and BBC TV news, local newspapers and national newspapers also ran it the following day.

A real once in a life time experience I think.