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 just back from four days in Argyll, or more specifically the Kimartin area. While the weather was not at its best there was some good light at different times which allowed for some decent photo opportunities. That, allied with the wide range of spectacular historical sites, made for an intersting and fun trip.
This first shot was taken late in the afternoon with low sunlight from the right emphasising the long shadows from the stones. The clouds in the otherwise blue sky add depth and interst to the image, helping to lead the viewer's eye into the shot.
The following few shots were taken at Crinan, again late in the afternoon/evening so a large part of the basin was in relative shade compaed to the hill behind. The basin was fairly quiet with just a few yachts and these two old steam boats. The larger boat had its engine going, producing lovely wisps of smoke which add a sense of motion to the image. The wall on the left leads the viewer into the image and adds texture with the lichens on the stones.
I generally like canals as a subject for photography because of the good chance of interesting reflections and obviously lots of boats. However, last time we went to Crinan I took several shots of the canal so this time I focused elsewhere. This shot was taken from the bridge that crosses the River Add where it enters the sea just beside the canal, looking east. The wonderful reflections in the calm water and the clouds in the blue sky made me stop for this shot.
One of our favourite haunts in Carnasserie Castle, an old ruin situated on a bit of high ground just north of Kilmartin. The castle offers many opportunities for intersting angles and perspectives. The ight was very dull and flat with overcast conditions so I focused mainly on wide-angle shots of the outside of the castle, trying to capture something of the scale and mystery of the place.
On our last, slightly damp and overcast day, we took a walk to a spectacular ruined old mansion called Poltalloch House. This house has a very sad story, being first constructed in the 1840s, when the owners were busy clearing folk from the land and were apparently involved in various business ventures, including the slave trade. The house was used to host multi-national business deals, no doubt at the cost of many poorer folk, but ultimately was only occupied for less than 100 years. The roof was removed in the 1950s to avoid paying tax and it has since fallen into serious disrepair, currently sitting on the Buildings at Risk register. All this being said, it must have been a spectacular house in its hey-day, costing £100,000 to build at the time, the equivalent today of c. £10 million. It is not safe to enter the house, though I did sneek into the conservatory for my final shot, but I took a few external shots although it was difficult to capture the scale and grandeur of the building. Also, there is a church located just a short distance from the main house, which has some interesting details in the form of gargoyles and intrictae carvings.
On our way home we took a short detour to explore the Ardfern road and just after the main village and marina we found this old wreck sticking out of the water. I immediately thought it would make for a good photo with the contrasting blue sky and clouds to add interest.
Today was an exciting one with me delivering my first lot of mounted photographs for exhibit, and hopefully sale, at the Bealach Cafe & Gallery at Tornapress, near Kishorn. This is the only place where my photos are on display and for sale, apart from any exhibitions which I might run myself. Located at the foot of the famous Bealach na Ba, increasingly one of my photographic obsessions, the cafe and gallery are at a prime location on the North Coast 500 route and the welcome, the food and the coffee are fantastic.
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.