Achavanich star trails

Achavanich star trails Gordon Mackie, Caithness, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 760D DSLR camera, Sigma 10-20mm.

Gordon Mackie


Tripod mounted Canon 760D DSLR and Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm

The scene shows the moonlit Standing Stones at Achavanich in Caithness on the evening of 14th March. I had planned taking these photos for some time, working out that the light from the first quarter Moon around this time of year would provide just the right angle and level of lighting to gently illuminate the foreground stones. As a bonus the aurora made an appearance just as I arrived to setup to do some photography, so my timing could hardly have worked out better.

I enjoy seeking out suitable locations to capture starry nightscapes that show interesting parts of our world with the universe as a backdrop. While capturing these images I found myself imagining the people that put the stones in position millennia ago, and how they may have stood enjoying a similar view of the night sky.

The star trails image was produced from 85 x 20 second exposures (ISO 1600; f/4.0), stacked using StarStax software. I took quite a few more shots than the 85, but the aurora got brighter for a period near the end of the photo session and the finished star trails image didn’t look as good with the later shots included.