This post is long overdue having taken these shots while on Uist visiting friends for a few days in the first week of July. The weather was pretty good but the light could have been better for photography. That being said I did get a few decent shots, like the above taken from the shore of Loch Sandary near Paible, looking to a croft in Paiblesgarry. The bright yellow is from flowers in the grasslands, yet to be cut. I used a 100-300mm zoom lens at 100mm on my mirrorless Panasonic Lumix G3 camera. This combination provides the equivalent of a 200mm zoom on my full frame DSLR, so the image is pretty fore-shortened. I also darkened the grey sky behind a little to add contrast and drama to the scene.
On returning from the break I decided to try something I have never attempted before, to try paiinting in Photoshop using the above image as the background layer, aiming for a watercolour effect. I did a fair bit of online research and it is obvious that this kind of post-processing can result in some awful tacky images, but it was also clear that with practice and avoidance of the simple use of filters, that some very creative and attractive results can be achieved. So, based on some of the online examples, I set about converting this image to a digital 'watercolour'. The result is not bad (see below), although I need to experiment more and practice the brush strokes on the sky. Not bad for a first attempt I think.
The following couple of shots were taken at Griminish pier. This is a pretty active little harbour with lots of fishing gear stored around the pier. The first shot is a close-up shot of a beautifully coiled rope which attracted our attention.
Adjacent to this were numerous creels and buoys, which I am always attracted to as subjects for photography. In this case I was spoilt for choice, but I like this next image best. Overall, I was a little disappointed by the results, mainly due to the very bright sunshine causing a lot of highlights and blown out parts of the images.
On another day we had the pleasure of visiting the island of Vallay which lies to the north of Solas in Norht Uist. The island can be reached on foot , or 4x4, when the tide is out and there is an old derelict mansion house and farm buildings. The following shots are a selection of my favourites.
The following day the weather was not so lovely, but we took a quick trip south to Benbecula and South Uist. There were not many good opportunities for decent photos, with poor, flat, grey light. However, while we were at the cemetry at Rubh Aird-mhicheil near Stoneybridge there was a small rainy squall out to sea and I got this dramatic shot.
I have been without broadband since 25th June so have been delayed in posting any images. These shots were taken on the 25th at the Plockton Aerodrome in a thin but very diverse grassland around the runway. I have several sharp images of oxeye daisy already and wanted to try and capture a sense of motion in the image, especially as it was a bit breezy and difficult to get the images in sharp focus. Ironically this image was taken at 1/3200 second so it should be pin sharp, but with the very shallow depth of field (f/2.8) and the difficulty of focusing, it has resulted in exactly the sense of movement I was seeking. I have done very little to the image in terms of post-processing but included a little vignette to focus the viewer's eye on the flowers in the centre of the image.
Among the range of orchids in the aerodrome were some nice specimens of greater butterfly orchid as well so I took a few shots of them as well..
On the way home I stopped at Drumbuie to take a few shots of the species-rich croft meadows which were in full bloom.
My new photography exhibition started today at the GALE Centre in Gairloch, from 24th June to 21st July. A small sample of my images are for sale as canvas prints, framed prints, mounted and unmounted prints and cards. Also a sneak preview of my 2020 calendar is available to view. Orders for prints and/or my calendar can be placed by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my contact page.
Last night was a beautiful evening with lovely late golden light. I went for a walk at Drumbuie to try and see if any orchids were flowering yet, and to capture some images of the globeflower which I knew was in full flower. Globeflower is a fantanstic lemon yelow flower in the shape of a globe, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. It thrives in areas of seasonal grazing like the rougher areas of the meadows at Drumbuie, and as you can see from the above shot is an early flowering plant that likes wonderful views. The following shot was taken using my 105mm macro lens but the plants were waving around a bit in the northerly breeze and it was very difficult to get a sharp image, this being the best one.
As for the orchids, well it is still a bit early for them, but we did get some early Northern Marsh Orchids in the wetter areas.
The Common Lousewort is another small flower found in these acid grasslands, and was in flower too, so I took the opportunity of taking another macro shot for reference purposes.
Beyond the flowers, the landscape was also wonderfully lit, although the low bright sun posed some difficulties in exposing images properly and avoiding flare from the lens.
Finally on the way home I stopped above Balmacara Square to capture this shot lookng towards the Five Sisters of Kintail which were lit wonderfully as the sun set behind me, producing fantastic pink/purple clouds.
Last night it was one of the practical meetings of the South Skye Camera Club with the destination being Kyleakin. It was a fabulous evening with excellent light for shots of Eilean Ban Lighthouse and the Skye Bridge and Castle Maol. The above shot was the best of the evening I think, taken just as the sun dropped below the top of the bridge and the reflection of its rays was perfectly placed behind the reflection of the lighthouse.
The following shots are the best of the rest, including the next one which is simply part of a reflection on the waters of An-t Ob.
I had a short jaunt around the estate this afternoon with my Panasonic Lumix mirrorless camera and its lenscap fisheye lens. This is an interesting cheap little lens with plastic lens elements, fixed aperture of f/8 and only three focus settings, close-up (20cm), middle and distant. I took these shots in Aperture priority mode, as that is fixed anyway, and let the camera select the shutterspeed and ISO.
The above image is one rendition of three that I created from the same raw file. I like this one in black & white and the low vantage point and ultra wide-angle lens really emphasises her head and the span of her horns. I like the framing of this one with the bright blue sky (darkened here with a red filter appl;ied in Nik Solution's Silver Efex Pro) and the trees leaning inwards lsightly due to the wide-angle distortion of the lens.
The next two shots are from the same RAW file, the first, simply colour version of the one above. The second is a portrait crop which I think would make an excellent gift card.
The remaining images were all taken at Kirkton where there is an traditional old Lochalsh type barn which is category C(S) listed. Adjacent to the barn is a lovely path that leads to the saltmarsh and shore at Kirkton Bay and there were a few nice woody glades with bluebells and primroses worth a shot or two. For these shots I decided to stick with the wide-angle approach, aiming to get close to the foreground features while retaining an element of their context in the background. The exception is the last one of the ivy covered fence post which was taken using my 100-300mm lens.
This fabulous Eatser weekend brough great weather and all the spring flowers have bloomed and the trees are now properly in flush. I thought I would try and capture some of these early signs of colour in close-up mode.
This morning was an early start for the first croftland bird survey at Balmacara Estate. Today we were at Duirinish and Drumbuie from 6:30 to 8:45 am for what was a beautiful calm morning. We had 34 species of bird recorded in total if you include the great northern divers and a guillemot offshore. Highlights were the first wheatears of the year, of which the above was one very obliging male who sat nicely on this fence post while I took a few shots, also a single twite, lots of linnet and lesser redpoll and skylarks singing, reed bunting and a merlin. There can't be too many better ways to start a day than wandering around these wonderful crofting townships listening to the spring bird song as the sun rises above the eastern horizon, and no midges yet.
This is a macro shot of Aileen's Phalaenopsis Orchid (at least I think that is the correct type of orchid), which I noticed was in full flower today. It was sitting on the window sill nicely lit by the overcast daylight, against a beige backdrop. I decided to try a simple macro shot and set up pretty quickly using my 105mm macro lens set at a fairly small aperture to maintain a decent depth of field. The petals on the extreme left of the rear flower-head are a little bit bright at the edges for my liking, but otherwise it came out quite nicely. I tried a couple of different apertures which resulted in much shallower depth of field and didn't really like the results. The image didn't need much by way of post precoessing, just removal of dust spots from my sensor and a little adjustment to the exposure and whites and an small increase in the luminence of the reds and oranges to bring up the darkened areas at the centre of the flower heads.
Ths Sunday was a beautiful early spring day and I took the opportunity to take a road trip to Gairloch and Loch Ewe with my camera. Essentially it was really more of a reconnaisance visit to check out possibilities for future photo shoots but I managed to capture a few decent shots of what has to be one of the most picturesque parts of the country. There is a lot of fuss about Skye, but to be honest I think Wester Ross has evrything and more that you can get on Skye. Fabulous mountains, beautiful coastline, magnificent beaches and lots of lovely little communities.
The above shot is one that I have often thought about stopping for but have until now never quite been there with my camera when I had the time and the conditions. The remnants of snow on the hills makes their cragginess really show well. The reflection in the loch, with the old fence post in the foreground adds drama and a little human interest.
The next few shots were taken at Melvaig and at the lighthouse at Rubha Reidh near Gairloch. This was a new road for me to explore as I had never gone beyond Big Sand before, which is quite hard to believe given the number of times I have been to Gairloch and I worked at Poolewe for a summer back in 1986. This is certainly an area I will go back to as there is an interesting walk further along the coast towards what looks like a great isolated beach at Cama Mor just about 1km beyond the lighthouse.
After visiting Melvaig I headed back towards Gairloch and then on to Loch Ewe and Inverasdale, and some of my old haunts from 1986. The landscape is enormous with the Torridon hills to the south and looking north-east across Fisherfield, and this can be challenging to capture effectively on the camera. I resorted to a few panoramas as follows..
I am an amateur photographer who is also a Chartered Geographer (GIS) with his own part-time consultancy business and I work as an estate manager for a national conservation charity in Scotland. I am based in Lochalsh, Wester Ross, Scotland, just next to the Isle of Skye.
If you like my photos and are interested in purchasing prints, whether framed, mounted or otherwise please click here.