Tonight's meeting of the South Skye Camera Club was meant to be an outdoor practical session looking at abstract and architectural photography. However, due to the rather wet weather we mostly adjourned to the indoors at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (the Gaelic College on Skye). This was definitely a challenge to my comfort zone, being asked to look for interesting and different patterns of colour, light, shade and tone within the buildings. In the end, as usual, I took many more shots than was necessary but having worked through them I am quite pleased with some of the results. These are the ones I think are best; a pretty mixed bag.
Last night there was a fantastic sunset at Shieldaig in Wester Ross. The great colours were to a large extent due to the presence of a lot of smoke in the sky as a result of various hill fires in the area, in this case at Diabaig. I used my Zomei ND8 soft grad filter to allow me to capture more of the detail in the foreground.
The last time I took a sunset shot at Shieldaig was back in 1987 on a road trip with my best mate and I recall getting horrendously bitten by midges then. Some things don't change as it was pretty fierce last night.
I also took the following shot using the tripod and a longer exposure to smooth out the ripples on the water, just to see how to worked. In truth it made little difference as the water was pretty smooth anyway, but worth a try.
After four nights of mounting and framing prints, organising labels, posters, signs, etc. I am now ready for my upcoming photography exhibition at the Steadings Gallery, Balmacara Square which starts this Saturday. The exhibition features many of my shots during the past year plus a few odler ones that I have revisited recently. Opening hours are 11am to 7pm daily from 26th May to 2nd June so why not take some time out from the forecast warm sunny weather and cool off in the Steadings Gallery and take a look.
The exhibition will consist of 35-37 framed prints plus an assortment of mounted prints and gift cards for sale. There will also be a slideshow of all my favourite photos for visitors to peruse. I will also be happy to take orders for for any of my photos.
I spent last week on a trip to Norway with a group of crofting students from Plockton High School visiting the Fosen Folk School in Rissa. We had three days at Fosen and an evening in Trondheim with excellent weather throughout. While I was not there specifically for photography I did take the opportunity of taking a fair few shots of the local architecture, the launching of the new boats built this year at Fosen, and rather obliging male Capercaillie in full display mode. All of these shots were taken on my Panasonic Lumix G3 camera with a vairety of lenses and settings. The highlights, photographically at least, were the Capercaillie and the wonderfully colourful warehouses at Trondheim, both excellent subjects that lend themselves to good shots.
I took this shot of flowering blaeberry at the Open Air Church in Plockton this afternoon. It was a very small patch of blaebrries which has established on one of the old terraces where folk used to sit during communion services. These flowers are tiny, probably only about 1-2mm across so despite not having a proper cmaera with me I have to say I am impressed at how well this came out on the phone.
However, the following shot was taken on my full frame digital SLR, I guess that is the other end of the camera spectrum (albeit a slightly old model). The light was good and I was a bit early for the fortnightly camera club meeting so decided to stop at Eilean Iarmain to see if there was anything worth shooting. The lighthouse was well lit by a patch of sunlight and the clouds behind looked fairly dramatic. I thought the shot might look good but in colour it was a bit flat and lacking in contrast so I tried it in black & white and it worked much better. The clouds were darkened a bit using an graduated ND4 filter which also helped.
What a beautiful way to end a lovely day with this rather spectacular full moon reflected on Loch Alsh, taken from the back garden.
After dropping my daughter at the early train in Kyle of Lochalsh I took advantage of the beautiful frosty morning light to take some shots around the National Trust for Scotland's Balmacara Estate. The above shot is from the road junction at Drumbuie, looking towards Duirinish, across the crofts. The fields were literally shining silver in the morning light with deep shadow areas and some of the trees standing out illuminated by the sunshine. It would have been nice to have had a few clouds to add interest in the sky but you can't always get everything you want. In this case I had to zoom in a bit more than I would have liked as well, because the bright sun was shining just off to the right of the picture and would have blown out that part of the image. The tree just peeping into the right of the image would have provided an excellent bright yellow frame but not with the sun shining behind it. As it was I had little choice but to revert to auto-bracketing three shots, +/- 2 stops, and merging them using the HDR tool in Lightrom to retain the foreground colours. I try not to use HDR but when shooting subjects with this amount of dynamic range there is little choice, unless you want a silhouette effect.
This shot was taken from the roadside at Badicaul, lookig over the Inner Sound to Skye. The foreground tree is one of my favourites on the estate and with the gorse in full bloom and the hills of Skye illumintaed by the rising sun against a bright blue sky, the view was very colurful.
The following few shots were all taken from the roadside between Drumbiuie and Duirinish, looking at the crofts and fence patterns and the woodland and a few individual trees.
The final image below is an old favourite of mine, the old croft house at Drumbuie. The house was looking fine in the bright sunshine. The low angle of the light meant that part of the building was still in shade but the roof was highlighted bright red against the blue sky. The distant Applecross hills were clearly delineated provding an excellent backdrop.
Due to the damp overcast day today I was hunting around for something to do photographically and inspired by an article in Outdoor Photography I decided to try and set something up for some garden bird shots. The article suggested attaching a cutting from a tree/busg to a bird table, to act as a perch for birds waiting to feed, thus providing a natural looking prop for the birds. Instead I decided to set up a couple of feeders in some young regenerating wild cherry trees near our lounge window. I set my tripod and camera up in the lounge with the window open and waited for some birds to come. I had high hopes of goldfinch, siskin and maybe even a blackcap as a male was singing from tiem to time in the garden. Unfortunately, only the more common robin, great tit and chaffinch graced me with their presence, but it was useful practice with the big lens.
All these shots were taken using my Sigma 150-500mm lens and the Canon 5D Mark II combination. The light was not great so I had to use a fairly high ISO, getting up to 1250, so there is a bit of background noise, but it allowed some good fast shutterspeeds to freeze the motion of these active little birds.
Despite warnings of a heatwave this weekend it was somewhat cool and overcast with a few bursts of modest sunshine in the north-west of Scotland today. This promised some decent opportunities for photography so it was off to Skye, along the Broadford to Elgol road to see what I might find. The timing was not ideal when I set off but the light improved as the afternoon moved on and I managed a few interesting shots of some of the most photographed parts of the island. Nothing spectacular but a good momento of a lovely afternoon out.
The first shot, above, is of Bla Bheinn from the Boradford to Torrin road. Usually folk stop by the shore of Loch Cille Chroisd for this view of Bla Bheinn, hoping for a reflection in the loch, but the surface of the loch was pretty well rippled today with the breeze, and I am building a collection of shots with Passing Places in them for a project I am working on, so I liked this unusual perspective.
This shot was taken from the rocky shore at Kilbride, looking towards Bla Bheinn. I chose f/22 and focused on the smal island in the middle disctance, aiming to get somewhere close to the hyper-focal distance and hence the best depth of field possible. In this case the foreground rocks and pool are nice and sharp as well as the distant mountain tops so I am pretty happy with how that worked out. I also used my Cokin P Series 0.9 ND Soft Grad filter to retain some fo the detail in the brighter sky (this was used in most of my shots today). The relatively long shutter speed has also prodced a lovely smooth surface on the foreground rock pool.
The next two shots were taken from Elgol, looking towards the Cuillins. The first was a panorama of five shots, handheld, using my Sigma 70-300mm lens from the car park while the second was taken from the lower perspective of the beach using a single shot at a wider angle to capture more of the rocky foreground interest.
The final shot was taken from the Glasnakille road looking towards Elgol and the Cuillins. The light was improving by this time and Elgol township was slightly illuminated by a patch of sunshine and the Cuillins looked really close. I am not sure I really captured the foreshortened effect the way I had intended but I like the shot and will bear this location in mind for a future visit, perhaps really early one summer morning to catch the first light on the hills.
Yesterday we had a lovely trip to Corran on the shores of Loch Hourn with our good friends Helen and Tich. The main purpose of the trip was to experience the fantastic fish and chips at Sheena's Tea Hut, which lived up to its reputation. However, despite it being a somewhat hazy day I took the camera along hoping to get some good shots of an area I have not been to very often. In the end I got these shots, some of which are OK, but from a photographic perspective the best outcome is probably that it was a worthwhile recce for future trips when the light is better. That being said, the fist image, taken on the way back to Glenelg, did nicely capture the patchy light coming through the increasing clouds and lighting up the sea on the Sound of Sleat.
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.
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