Yesterday was such a beautiful day that it would have been inexcusable not to go out with the camera. In all honesty, the light was so bright and contrasty that it made photgraphing some scenes pretty challenging. The ND grad filters were in use for a lot of the landscape shots as a result.
The above shot was taken from the Tocabhaig to Tarscabhaig road, looking towards the Cuiilins, with the ruins of Dun Scaich (pronounced "skee" apparently) in the foreground. There was no ND filter used for this one as I didn't have an adaptor to fit the lens with me. I don't use this big lens much, but it makes for some lovely shots when used at its minimum zoon, foreshortening the distances really nicely.
The following shot was taken at Ord, again looking towards the Cuillins and Bla Bheinn, truly spectacular scenery.
I took a little detour into Tarscabhaig to search for old abandoned dwellings, for a project I am doing for my HNC in Photography. I found a few likely subjects worth another visit when the light is a bit more moody and dramatic. However, I also spotted an unusual sight these days, piles of grass being set aside for hay or silage. Normally, this is simply cut into rows and then baled and wrapped in black plastic. I am not sure how this was going to be baled, but perhaps into old fashioned square bales? Anyway, I could not resist taking a shot with Rum in the background.
Tarscabhaing is a lovely, picturesque crofting tonwship located on the west side of the Sleat peninsula. Crofting is still pretty active there and the croft houses are spread around the sloping ground making for a great foreground against the backdrop of the Cuillins. You can just make out the moon in the top left corner of the image.
Earlier in the day, before heading over to Skye, I took a trip to Ardelve, then over Carr Brae for a view down Loch Duich. Many years previously I took some photos of an old thatched croft house and some other sheds in Ardelve. I was a bit saddend to see the poor condition of the thatched cottage, with rotten thatch and tufts of grass growing out of it. The walls poorly maintained and the property obviously unused. Anyway, I took a couple of shots of the windows and a nearby timber shed. Let's hope something is done to renovate the cottage before it is too late.
The view from Carr Brae is wonderful when the light is good, as it was on Saturday morning. Looking into the sun posed some challenges but I managed to get a couple of shots that did not have too many sun flares on them. This one really shows how much of a fjord Loch Duich is.
I also succumbed to the familiar photo looking up Loch Alsh with Eilean Donan Castle in the foreground. It was really a beautiful morning, so that's my excuse.
My final shots from the day are of the old boatman's house at Totaig on the opposite side of Loch Duich from Eilean Donan. The first shot shows the approach to the house and slipway where the ferry used to run to Dornie, while the second is another one of those window shots, which I like so much.
This little guy was sitting on his web, between two shoots fo heather, waiting for some prey. I caught sight of it on a test image I had done with my new phone camera while out with the dogs, so popped back to the house and got my DSLR and macro lens. The position was about head height and my tripod would not allow me to get the right angle for the shot. So I had to opt for handheld. I took a few shots and this was the only one that came out reasonably sharp.
This afternoon I spotted some interesting brown mushrooms/toadstools in the Lochalsh Woodland Walks. I am not sure what this species of fungi is called so if you know, please get back to me.
I returned with my camera gear later on, to try out some macro shots, and specifically to try out focus stacking using Photoshop. I took a straight macro shot using my Sigma 105mm macro lens at f/16 to try and get as much of the fungi in focus as possible. This worked OK (see below), but the background was not as soft as I would have liked. This being the conundrum of using macro lenses, balancing depth of field to achieve a nice soft bokeh effect.
So, I took thirteen shots of the mushroom, focusing on different parts of the image as I went. The camera was set at f/2.8, my lens' widest aperture, taking care to avoid movement of the camera on the tripod, using my remote trigger to take the shots. The result is shown at the top of this post, and as you can see the whole of the mushroom is in focus but the background is beautifully soft.
I tried another single larger mushroom nearby, this time with a stack of fourteen images. This one worked well too, as you can see below.
My new photography exhibition opened today at the Steadings Gallery at Balmacara Square. The exhibition of photographs on canvas runs from today (23rd August) to Friday 30th August, open daily from 11am to 6pm. Limited-edition prints are avalable to buy at a range of sizes and on a selection of media, including canvas and archival Giclee or satin. The 2020 Iain Turnbull Photography Calendar is also available, along with a range of cards. Come along and enjoy a browse with a cup of coffee or tea and a chat.
My 2019 Photography Exhibition is coming soon at the Steadings Gallery, Balmacara Square from 23rd to 30th August. The Gallery will be open daily from 11am to 6pm. This year I am focussing on larger canvases but there will also be mounted and unmounted prints for sale, along with cards and copies of my brand new 2020 calendar.
A new feature this year is the publication of an eBook of the images that will feature in the exhibition,. The book contains notes on the images, including the equipment and settings I used, plus comments on my thoughts on the shots and some comments on post-processing. The eBook can be viewed here:
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.