Aurora & Milky Way at The Island Queen

Aurora & Milky Way at The Island Queen

A last minute outing ended up working out well as I managed to capture the Aurora & Milky Way at The Island Queen, Tayinloan, Kintyre.

A check on the forecast was giving clear skies, so a quick glance at the position of the Milky Way on Planit Pro for Photographers ( android ) ( iPhone ) had it setting in a South Westerly direction with the Milky Way centre being visible for a few minutes.

It all looked good, just where to shoot. I had a few in mind but decided to head for the wreck of The Island Queen at Tayinloan as I knew I would be able to get a nice composition based on the position of the wreck and the Milky Way.

I also knew I would be able to shoot to the North and perhaps do some star trails.


As I was driving out I did not like the look of the clouds out to the west, in fact I turned round at one point to return home but ended up turning round again a assess the cloud at Westport.

Westport didn’t look that much better but I decided to carry on, and glad I did.

Clearing Up

At Tayinloan the clouds were starting to clear up, so I grabbed my bag and headed along the beach to the wreck. It had been a while since I had been to the wreck so walking along the beach at night seemed to take an age, and nearly tripping over rocks 3 times lol.

The wreck is starting to look a lot more weathered which I think adds to the image and according to a previous post of mine has moved position slightly, which worked in my favour.

Painting with Light

A few test shots were required to ensure I had the composition correct as obviously at night trying to find your subject can be pretty hard.

I painted the wreck and foreground with light for about 5 seconds with my head torch to reveal more of the details in the boat and foreground and bring more interest to the image.


I shot the images with a Canon 6d, Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens at f2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 5000. A note here is that 30 seconds was too long of an exposure as there is the slightest of trails in the stars, despite using the 500 rule as guidance which suggests I should have been able to get 35 seconds, it could have been a bit of shake from the wind, as it was pretty strong.


I’m happy with the images I got. They are both edited as square formats due to the Vertorama technique to capture as much of the Milky Way as possible, edited in Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop and Microsoft ICE.

I really like the composition and colours in the first image, I think I have put in enough of the foreground with a slight path leading you out to the wreck then to the Milky Way. Foreground interest is given by the small mound of sand and the yellow flowers which add to the nice colours of the foreground.

Images are uploaded at minimum size for web site speed and optimisation so viewing on a large screen the images may look poor.

Aurora & Milky Way at The Island Queen

After I had captured this image I decided to see if I could get the wreck with the Milky Way, The Dipper and hopefully some Meteoroids, however all that changed after my test shot when I noticed that the Northern Lights were on display.

A quick re-position and new composition was required to capture the image below, with the same settings as above.

The image below was stitched using Microsoft ICE, which usually works well for me but this time I must have chose the wrong setting as it produced my image at low resolution, which I only noticed when I was going to save my image for web, but it will do for this post.

Aurora & Milky Way at The Island Queen

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