During a week-long trip to the Achiltibuie area the week before last I managed to get a few worthwhile shots despite mostly poor weather. We had a couple of really excellent evenings with spectacular sunsets and two really sunny hot days but otherwise it was rain and very low cloud/mist. The above shot was taken on our first night looking north-west from the roadside above Achanhaird, across Loch a' Chaorainn. The colours were fantastic with blues, pinks and yellow/orange blending wonderfully and reflected in the loch.
The following image was taken almost one hour later at 11:22 pm, looking across a small lochan known as Dubh-Lochan (black loch) towards the hills above Achnaihaird. The reflected sunset highlights the stones and reeds in the loch. I really love the soft tones in this one, and it was worth putting up with the midges to get it right.
The next image was taken on the hot sunny day and I resorted to looking at close-up shots of flowers and the like, since the landscape was just to contrasty and the sky not very exciting for good landscape shots. This one is of Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum,) one of my favourite bog/moorland plants which almost looks like it should be in the orchid family. "The Latin name of Bog Asphodel, ossifragum, literally translates as 'bone-breaker'. This unassuming plant acquired this violent name because it was believed that the livestock that grazed on it got brittle bones. However, it was actually the calcium-poor pastures that caused the problem" (The Wildlife Trusts).
Towards the end of the week, after several days of very low cloud and rain, we were treated to another lovely evening and I got the following shots across the Summer Isles and at the harbour at Old Dornie.
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.
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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