Sunday, 10 May 2015

Northern Lights, Bamburgh - April 2015

Hello again and welcome to another blog entry. I've been looking forward to writing about my recent sighting of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. After a brief showing back in December 2014, I was hopeful of catching a better light show before the end of the Aurora season, which is normally in late March. There had been a handful of decent Aurora activity since December, notably the big one on St. Patrick's Day, but sods law kicked in and I missed them, mainly due to work commitments, and not for the first time either. So, when a predicted forecast of Aurora activity was on the cards in late April, I decided to push the envelope and get myself up the coast to photograph it. As it happened I was working until 11.20pm on April 20th but that wasn't going to stop me making the 130 mile round trip, even though I was quite knackered at the end of my shift. The opportunity was too good to pass, especially as the aurora prediction also coincided with clear skies and no moon, which are ideal for this kind of photography. So, with everything in place, it was all systems go!

I made the journey north with work colleague and friend Ryan Pearce, who like myself has only been doing Astrophotography for a few months. We were both excited as to what the night had in store for us and we weren't disappointed. After an hour or so on the road we were soon in position with our cameras at Stag Rock Lighthouse, Bamburgh, on the Northumberland coast. This was the same location as my first and only sighting of the Northern Lights, so we were more than hopeful of a good light show to reward us for our efforts. Pointing our cameras in a northerly direction we fired off our first test shots to see if we could pick up any activity. Bingo! A magenta cloud was fairly prominent on the horizon and what a start to the night that was. Soon we could see small spires and they shifted fairly quickly to the right, along the horizon. The spires got bigger and more appeared as the minutes passed. To the naked eye they appeared as a grey hue, but the long exposures that the camera pulled in showed them as bright green and magenta. I ran off a time lapse sequence whilst watching the dancing lights, which consisted of around 80 x 20 second exposures.

The Milky Way was very prominent and stretched across the sky between the Aurora and Bamburgh Castle. I was hopeful of bagging a shot of the full vista in front of me, although the vast expanse would only be achieved by taking several shots and stitching them together in Photoshop. The photo at the top is the result of taking 14 exposures and letting Photoshop do the rest. Once stitched I edited the image, which took around 15 minutes to complete. I would say it's one of my best shots to date. This time last year I didn't even know what the Milky Way and Aurora looked like, so to grab myself a shot like this meant a lot. A rare phenomenon!

The lights danced on the horizon for two and a half hours before an orange glow began to appear. Yes, the sun was on its way. We left Bamburgh at around 4.15am and headed home. Job done. This was a memorable night, to say the very least. I have compiled a time lapse video of what we saw on this eventful night and it can be found on my website. Visit and head off to the TV page where you will find the 2 and a half minute footage. Alteratively, if you have access to a Smart TV, go to the YouTube app and search for 'Bamburgh Aurora'. The search results will show the thumbnail image with my name next to it. The video has been produced in High Definition and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's only my first attempt at this kind of thing, but I think I done ok. And that's about it. Hope you enjoyed this blog entry. Cheers, Ash  


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fully Stocked Once Again...

Apologies for the long delay in updating my blog page. It's been almost a full calendar month since my 'Back 2 Nature' blog entry, so I'll have to get back up to speed on here...soon.

Anyway, It has been a busy month to be fair - decorating the house, improving the garden, boarding out the loft and suchlike. There's also been the time consuming task of creating new framed prints following another successful batch of sales at Penshaw Tea Rooms and Clay's Garden Centre. A couple of weeks ago I replenished the stocks, filling the wall space and also the display boxes, which is always nice. It often crosses my mind about banging on more doors to sell my work, but to be quite honest, my two longest serving outlets keep me busy enough as it is, which is all good. Obviously there are times of year when sales slow down and then ramp up again, especially during the Spring and around Christmas time. The quiet spells are fine, as it gives me that extra time out in the field with the camera. The busy spells however can be very hectic and there have been times when I've been at it from early morning until late at night, but as long as there is a dmand for my work then that suits me fine. Happy days!

And so to the latest batch from Following the sales of all of my 32x22 inch canvas prints at Penshaw Tea Room, another 6 are now on display, as well as a dozen framed prints and 30 mounted prints of various sizes. Clay's Garden Centre is now showing a fresh line up of both canvas and frames within the very popular in house Coffee Shop. In addition to this there is a display box on the shop floor containing 25 medium mounted prints (14x11 inches) and 15 small mounted prints (10x8 inches). Accompanying them is a selection of my postcards that I had left over from my Tourist Board commission a couple of years ago. The set of postcards depict local landscape scenes in the North-East of England. Prices are as follows, which have no increase since 2013...

32x22 inch gallery wrap canvas print, on 32mm box frame - £60.00 each
20x16 inch framed prints - £45.00 each
36x12 inch panoramic framed prints - £60.00 each
14x11 inch framed prints - £30.00 each
14x11 inch mounted prints - £15.00 each
10x8 inch mounted prints - £10.00 each
A5 postcards (spot gloss finish) - 30p each

Here is a small selection of the new stock, including some made to order items for other customers. I never got a chance to photograph any of the new canvases as they went straight out of the door after they were framed. Also shown is my new business card which I designed last week, matching the new fonts on my revamped website.  More recent photo's to follow...honest Guv!

Thanks again for visiting my blog page