Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Skyscape spectacular

The skyscapes above Aberdeenshire have been really spectacular over the last week, providing colour and drama in equal measure.

The last sunset of 2019 was a thing of delicate beauty washing the sky with mauve and pink - on a Hogmanay walk we stopped often just to watch as the quiet shades subtly changed.

On 2nd January the palette seemed the same at dawn, but this is looking west - away from the sunrise.  To walk around the house was to experience something really special......

...an absolute riot of pyrotechnic colour and dramatic cloudscape.

Unusually, the colour deepened as the sun rose and began to be diffused by horizon cloudbanks.  It was an absolutely gorgeous sight and seemed unbeatable.  Sunrises here in the northeast can be more spectacular than sunsets as we're closer to the east coast and have less high ground to block the view.  But this sunrise was to be matched in glory by the sunset of 5th January. 

The western and southern parts of Scotland were generally overcast but over Aberdeenshire the edge of a weather front was really clearly defined in a cloud edge.  We were driving home from a trip south and watched as the sun fired this cloud front, colour raging across the sky......

It was almost apocalyptic!  This series of images were taken on a smartphone and like those above have had no post-processing at all, they're just as they came from the camera.

It's hard to put into words the sheer majesty of this skyscape.  We pulled to the side of the road to watch and to take photographs, as did most of the other cars travelling at that time, it was such a special sight.  Turbulence in the cloud was picked out by the low sun and the whole thing seemed to pulse and ripple with fiery intensity.

As the sun sank lower the colours changed subtly but the scale didn't diminish at all.  Flocks of Rooks wheeled up off the farmland as dusk rapidly approached and started to head for their tree roosts, which sparked a thought.  We drove on a little and stopped where we hoped to enjoy the last of the sunset.

By the side of Loch of Skene we stood and watched the intensity of the colour burn from gold to copper to deep bronze and then to purple, all reflected in the water.  Then, the sound we'd hoped for to go with the visuals: geese in small groups and then hundreds and then in their thousands winged in from the surrounding countryside to roost safely on the water.  Long after the light had dimmed we heard their wild calls and splashes as they flew in.  Although too dark for photographs, the last of this exceptional sunset was still a wash of deep bronze an hour after sunset.  In these two sunsets and one glorious sunrise we'd been treated to a real show of Solas (light) in the middle of winter.  Nobody can convince me that this season is a dark and dreary time!


  1. Great colour range. Not had many like that down here this winter.

  2. Wonderful captures, the detail is impressive.