This afternoon/evening I headed over to Kishorn with Aileen to drop off our daughter, Eilsh, and her friend Ellen for a sleepover. It was such a lovely day and having been stuck indoors all day I was keen to try and get some photos so I took the big backpack with all my DSLR kit. I was fortunate with the timing and as we arrived at Achintraid the sun was just setting behind the Cuillins on Skye. I took this first shot with my Sigma 150-500 mm lens at 150mm zoom, on the tripod. It actually looked quite a bit brighter than this image suggests but because I was zoomed in a bit the colours we captured in their full vibrancy, missing out most of the brighter sky above. This was one reason for not taking a wider angle shot. I tried the following shot at a slightly bigger zoom, to focus more on the area where the sun was disappearing behind the hills. Not much difference really but I like the slightly wider angle better.
The same setting sun was lighting up the Applecross Hills from the left and there was a really nice cloud sitting just above the Bealach na Ba which made an otherwise not very inspiring shot really come alive. The next two shots were taken from the same place, the first at 17mm zoom and the second at 35mm, thus cutting out the foreground rocks. I like the first one becuase of the texture of the rocks but the colours in the second are more vibrant and there is no distraction from the boat mast and house off to the right as there is in the first one.
On the way over I took the following shof the Bealach na Ba above Lochcarron. The shot was lit strongly from the left (west) as the sun was getitng low on the horizon and the topography was emphasised nicely as a result of the low angle of the light. As you can see I was lucky that the cloud had lifted from the Bealach by the time we got over the hill to Achintraid (just over the hill a bit on the road that can be seen disappearing into the distance).
Whiel at Achintraid I spotted an old dilapidated stone pen with a bunch of creels and bouys in it and thought it might make an interesting compostion. The light was not very good by that stage so I didn't take much time thinking about it but I might well pop back and try again at a better time of day. Still, I converted this shot to black & white and it makes an interesting shot I think.
Finally on the way home I just had to stop at the loch side, near the avalanche shelter, to take the following shot looking down Loch Carron towards the setting sun. The colours and reflections made this a must and while there is not much interest in the sky I still think it works quite nicely.
It was a beautiful morning and early afternoon today so I took the opportunity of feeling much improved after a bout of the flu to get out with the camera and binoculars for a bit of photography and bird watching. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? I went for a lovely walk from Duirinish to Drumbuie and Port an Eorna, and back to Duirinish. This first shot was taken at the edge of Drumbuie township where a group of starlings were roosting in the lovely sunshine. The birds were beautifuly lit up by the oblique sunshine and the backdrop was in shadow making the birds stand out wonderfully.
I saw a good range of winter birds during the walk including the following Fieldfare which kept coming clser and closer, allowing me to try and get a half-decent shot. This was still extreme range with my small camera but it was well lit by the sun which was behind me, so it came out OK.
The main aim of the walk was to try and get some decent landscape shots. These are my favourite shots: the first one of the Cuillins in snow being taken from the shore at Badicaul. I have tried this shot a few times previously but continue to find it difficult to capture the grandeur and scale of the panoramic view. The hills have a tendancy to look much less impressive against the wide aspect so I took this as a panorama of ten shots with the camera held in portrait orientation to try and capture the height of the hills. I think it worked quite well.
This shot was taken from right beside the car at the cattle grid at Duirinish, looking north toward the Bealach na Ba just before it disappeared into snow clouds. The final shot was taken from Drumbuie looking towards Skye with one of my favourite stunted trees which grows out of a rock by the edge of the croft land. The tree provides foreground interest against the dramatic backdrop of the view towards the Cuillins of Skye. I liked this shot in colour, which was how I envisaged it, but something didn't quite work for me, so I tried converting it to black & white in Silver Efex Pro and I really liked the result, using a deep red filter to darken the sky, making the whole effect much more impactful.
This was the view from the foot of our drive this morning. I popped out with the camera, but not the full camera bag!, to try and catch some shots before the wonderful colours faded. I managed a few decent shots before the battery failed and of course I had left the spares in the bag back in the house. I tried various aspects, including a wide panorama but that did not work too well. This one is probably my favourite because of the slightly brighter colours but the following ones are not too bad, especially the one with the moon. The long exposrues has produced lovely smoothed water surfaces, despite it being very calm.
This morning I spent a few hours at Broadford Bay with Judith Bullivant doing a bit of bridwatching. These are the best two photos I managed to get of Greenshank and Dipper. They were a bit far away and the light was not great so a high ISO was required to get any sort of decent shutterspeed. Still not too bad considering the kit I was using.
Here is another of my favourite shots of 2017. This one is of a Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) taken at Loch Sandray, North Uist this summer. I like this shot because it is reasonably sharp and the background is nicely blurred. The bird sat quietly on the fence post wathcing me as I gradually approached it, taking shots as I went. Eventually it had enough and flew off. The colours of the background grass make the bird stand out well, showing off its wonderful speckled plummage. This photo was taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 bridge camera at 108mm zoom (35mm equivalent of 600mm zoom), ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec at f/2.8, handheld. While not as good for detail as my DSLR this camera has the benefit of being relatively compact and a very good zoom range. Many of my best bird shots have been taken on this camera.
This is another of my favourite shots from 2017. This was taken somewhat opportunistically on our way home from dinner at the Applecross Inn. The light was not great, being quite late at night and fairly overcast but it works well in black and white. This was taken on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens at 24mm, ISO 2000, 1/6 sec at f/14 on a tripod. Due to the high ISO I had to do a bit of selective noise reduction but managed to retain the sharness in the foreground passing place sign. I am slowly working on a series of shots featuring passing place signs in interesting views so watch out for more.
This is one of my favourite shots of 2017. This area, Coigach and Assynt, in many ways appears to be very empty and devoid of human activity, and some folk might even think of it as "Wild Land". However, the land here has been managed by people for centuries and while the main concentrations of people today are around the coast there is evidence everywhere of man's influence on the landscape. In this case, in the far distance is the iconic Suilven and Quinaig and the rest of the image is largely composed of rough moorland and sky. BUT, in the foreground the peat cuttings are the sole obvious evidence of man being active in the area. I like the composition because of the counter-balance between man's activity and the wilder mountains, but also because the sky is fantastic and the line of the peat cutting face leads the viewer's eye nicely into the frame.
Over the next few days, as we approach the end of the year I will post some of my other favourite shots with analysis of why I like them. Feedback is, as always, welcome and fell free to share with your friends.
I had a rapid tour of Wester Ross yesterday, having to attend meetings in Gairloch and Ullapool, so I took my camera kit with me and made a point of leaving plenty of time to try and get some shots. The light was not brilliant most of the time but I had a bit of good fortune in some places. These are the best of them. mostly transferred into black & white since the landscape at this time of year is pretty dull brown, grey and black, unless you get a bit of sunshine peeping through the clouds..
I took this shot from the narrow bridge at Torgyle on the Invermoriston road on my way back from Inverness this afternoon. The river on this side (west) of the bridge is often flat calm and like a mirror whilst being rippled on the other side. I have often thought that there might be scope for a good photo looking west if the light was right and today offered a decent opportunity to try. The sun had just sunk behind the far hills (where you can see a couple of the new wind turbines) and mist was hanging in the glen. This stretch of road is notorious for temperature inversions and is regulalry very frosty in winter, so not surprisingly the birch trees were frosted pale purple. The sky was not very interesting so I concentrated on zooming in a little as opposed to going for the wider angle and I think it has worked reasonably well. No doubt this could be improved upon but worth a try and I'll keep my eyes open for another better opportunity.
I have just updated my Portfolio page with my latest images and added captions as well. I hope you enjoy looking at them and would welcome feedback.
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.