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© Jim Henderson

Photographer: Jim Henderson
Collection: Aurora over Scotland
Aurora Eslie Greater au61355jhp
Upload Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Photo Size: 30.9 MB; 5017x3756 pixels
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Scotland Aurora Borealis Deeside Eslie Stone Circle display Agfa film

October 1989 taken from the Recumbent Stone Circle called Esslie the Greater at Eslie to the SE of Banchory overlooking Feughside and Scolty Hill. This photo is from my second Aurora display I photographed using Agfa 1000 RS 6.4.5cm format film stock using my Bronica ETRS, from memory the fastest 120 film available at the time. The project to photograph an Aurora came after a missed opportunity earlier in the year in March with what became known as the Big Aurora, a full Corona over Deeside. I had got the idea of trying to photograph a display following on from my success in 1986 of capturing Halley’s Comet thanks to the support of the Astronomy Ian Shepherd at the Edinburgh Observatory. I had heard about the Big Aurora but had missed the display buried away in my darkroom processing B&W photos for the local newspaper. Ian suggested I contact John MacNicol, President of the Aberdeen Astronomy Society and he eventually tipped me off about the display captured here.

This photograph using Agfa medium format transparency film of which this photo is an example was the one and only time I used it and I suspect it was underexposed as I would not have used my usual bracketing exposures near the 20 second mark based on my experiences with photographing the Comet and aware that exposures much longer than 20 seconds incurred the affect of star trail so instead of sharp dots for stars they became lines. In this case I used the 40mm f4 Zenzanon on my Bronica ETRS a slower lens to my usual f2.8 35mm primes. Push processing the 35mm 400asa slide film at the lab by two stops to the equivalent of 1600asa I found that an exposure around 20 second eventually gave the best results for best colour saturation and exposure and giving the maximum control of grain without it appearing washed out from underexposure as in this case. As I shot my general landscape work using Fuji film, usually Velvia or RAP, I stayed with it for the Aurora although Kodak film was acceptable in quality and results. I felt that the Fuji film handled the reds and greens better anyway and these are in practice the primary colours of Aurora displays when oxygen is excited by the incoming electrons and because of this I stopped using medium format stock almost straight away. This photo has no great technical merit as far as an Aurora record goes except as an example of the 645 format, Agfa film and appears to be the only record I had of this second observed display on the 21st October – I have a note that I missed a display on the 20th.
Keywords: Scotland, Scottish, British, North, Northern, East, Aberdeenshire, Royal, Deeside, Eslie, Banchory, Feughside, Esslie, Recumbent, Stone, Circle, Bronze, Age, Clachnaben, Aurora, Borealis, Arc, Rays, Northern, Lights, Merry Dancers, landscape, photos, photographs, sunspots, solar, flares, CME, electrons, photons, storms, energy, sun, stars, oxygen, gas, Van, Allen, belt, ionosphere, flares, space, molecules, magnetic, disturbance, magnetometers, belts, radiation, purple, red, green, yellow, pink, colourful, colorful, coloured, colored, colours, colors, moon, whirls, celestial, clouds, nature, dark, nights, night-time, forest, 1989, October, medium, format, slide, transparency, film, Agfa, 1000 RS, 645mm, time, exposure, Bronica, ETRS, wide, angle, lens, Zenzanon, 40mm, f4, scanned, scan, earliest, first, captured

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