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 have seen this islotaed tree from the road for a long time and thought it would possibly make a good shot with the South Cluanie ridge in the background, if the weather was right. I took this shot this morning after a very early return trip to Inverness to get my car from the garage. The snow on the hills, not a complete covering, always adds texture and detail to the landscape and the tree growing out of the rock adds a lovely focal point in the foreground. The brooding sky behind the hills provided enough interest and colour to make the whole scene rather special.
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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