Astrophotography at Ballochnafraean

Astrophotography at Ballochnafraean

Another opportunistic outing a few nights ago when the weather unexpectedly gave a few hours of clear skies led me to do some Astrophotography at Ballochnafraean, Kintyre, Argyll.

This is a spot I’ve had in mind since my Craigaig Waterfall Post which I had noticed on the drive back from there. A little look on the map and a quick scout with Google Earth gave it the thumbs.

New Favourite Astrophotography Location

As my heading suggests, this is a new favourite location for me for Night Photography. It ticks all the boxes for me:

  • Has good foreground and background interest
  • Fairly easy to reach
  • Can capture Milkyway, Star Trails, Meteor Showers and Aurora from here
  • Some shelter from the wind

I’ll be looking to return here when the conditions are right again as there is at least another 3 images I would like to capture when suitable.

Aurora Alert

I only noticed the sky was clear when I headed out to the recycling bins, so I headed back in to check the forecast and it was looking clear up until 1am.

Moments later I got  notification from one of the apps on my phone saying there was a Yellow alert for Aurora activity. Yellow isn’t usually enough for me to head out but it gets me interested and I’ll check the long term forecast. The forecast was giving KP 3 according to Aurora Service website which is just too low for me, however another few moments later I get an Orange alert from the Glendale app, which is KP 4 which does get me interested. KP by the way is basically the strength of the Aurora.

They recommend for my area we need KP 5 but I have had some decent images at KP 4 so I’ll definitely give it some thought when we get KP 4. The good thing about the app is that other users can login and say if they have Aurora or not. On this night there were people just to the North and South of me seeing the Aurora, I was hopeful.

So a 10 minute drive, park up and a 5 minute walk and I was in position and getting setup. It was pretty hazy and I couldn’t see any glow out to the North and a quick test shot confirmed there was no Aurora!!!

Star Trails

I actually shot a few Milky Way images first before deciding to shoot some Star Trail images. I was in two minds as there was a bit  of a breeze and I wasn’t convinced I wasn’t going to get camera shake, however due to the stacking software I decided to take the risk as a few shaky images may have been ok, I could paint in the foreground from a sharp exposure if required.

Image below captured at f2.8, ISO 6400, 100 images at 25 seconds, 14mm:


 Ballochnafraean Star Trails
Ballochnafraean Star Trails


Milky Way

I then decided to do a little recce shot of the Milky Way up a bit closer tot he building to see what the composition looked like. After a few adjustments I was happy with the setup and decided to shoot the Milky Way. This is an image I would like to do again as the position of the Milky Way isn’t the best, I would prefer it to be further to the right of the frame, West in terms of geographical direction but it would have been another few hours before it got there on this night and I wasn’t hanging around.

Image captured at f2.8, ISO 6400, 25 seconds 14mm:

Ballochnafraean Milky Way
Ballochnafraean Milky Way

I really like this edit of the Milky Way, it’s not as colourful as the original edited file as I have de-saturated the colours a little just for personal taste.

Night Sky

Just for the curious among you’s here is a screen shot from the fantastic free software Stellarium which I use on my laptop and mobile phone to see what I’m observing in the night sky.


Love this location and will be back when the conditions are right as there may be a cracking Milky Way shot here but I’ll need to research this a bit more to make sure everything lines up where I want them to be.

I wasn’t too bothered about the light pollution, I’m probably in the minority here but I like a bit of light pollution in my image as it adds some nice colour.

Any of you who seen my last post about my lens issues will be glad to know it seems to be working fine, actually better than before to be honest as I can now work my focus as I like where I can go past focus and come back, check it our if you have focus issues on  Samyang/Rokinen 14mm f2.8 lens.

Oh, and here’s the Star Trail Timelapse of the images captured:




































































































































































































































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