My wife and I had a recent day trip to Cromarty on a fine sunny September day. We had lunch down by the harbour and I took the opportunity to shoot a few images of the old oil rigs that sit offshore in the waters of the Cromarty Firth. These icons of Scotland's industrial heritage are not my normal subject matter, nor is the east coast to be honest, but I liked the way the ranks of rigs faded off into the distance, set against the mountains of Sutherland and Wester Ross in the background. Despite the lovely bright sunny day I could not quite bring myself to reflect that in these images and generally opted for a more dramatic and darker style. These are a few different approaches that I tried out. I also took some shots using my Bronica ETRSi medium format film camera and will post some of those once I get round to processing the film.
There is little doubt that everyone is facing challenging times at present. For me, this has been a period of relative peace in some regards, and at others a time of great uncertainty. Initially the lack of tourists to our area meant it was beautifully quiet, offset to a degree by the lack of ability to get out and enjoy it as much as I would have liked. However, it soon became clear that changes were afoot at my main place of work, the result of which has been some redundancies and loss of long-term colleagues. Against this background, I have not really felt much like getting out with the camera, far less maintaining my blog and other social media platforms. However, I have managed to gather a few shots from the last few weeks and these are my favourites. There is a definite de-saturated style going on at present, perhaps related to my frame of mind, but sometimes quite effective.
The above shot was taken from near the Duirinish railway station on one of my fairly regular walks around the coast on the Duirinish-Dumbuie-Port an Eorna circular walk. I framed this photo to capture the silhouette of the Isle of Skye and the Cuillins in the background to the left, balanced byt he trees on the sky line to the right and the angle of the colourful clouds leads ythe viewer's eye into the frame. The colours on this image were very vibrant originally (see below) but I felt they looked a little over-saturated so I opted for my recent predilection for a de-saturated feel and I prefer the de-saturated version much more, more atmospheric.
This rose was shot in our garden. It was such a delicate small flower and I deliberately tried to get a soft feel using the largest aperture to achieve a very shallow depth of field, and reduced the clarity a bit in post-processing. I love the soft ethereal feel of this image. Sometimes you just don't have to travel far to get a good shot!
The following shots were taken during a short camping trip with my middle daughter to the Ardnamurchan peninsula at the end of August. Ardnamurchan is an area I have rarely visited, partly because it takes an absolute age to get there from anywhere. As the crow flies it is only about 60km distance from our house but the travel time by road is c. 3.5 hours with a massive detour rerquired to get round the Knoydart and Morar peninsulas, or a ferry ride via Skye. The peninsula hosts the most westerly point on the UK mainland and is very well known for its marvellous ancient oak woods at Sunart and Ariundle.
I had a little bit of work to do on the morning of the 29th but we spent the afternoon driving around the back roads and visiting likely spots around Kilchoan, Kilmory and Sanna, taking shots as the opportunity arose. Essentially this became a bit of a photography reconnaisance trip.
This old croft house and barn were located at the very end of the road to the north coast of the penisula, beyond Kilmory at a tiny little settlment of only a few houses called Ockle. In the past you would really have had to like your own company in a location like this, especially in bad winter weather when the sometimes steep and winding road would effectively cut you off I suspect. Nowadays, there are several holiday lets joining the few permanent residences.
We camped wild, with the campsite being fully booked, but it has to be said we found a fantastic, quiet place overlooking the Small Isles and the Isle of Skye and with a magnificent panorama of mountains heading north on the mainland as well. I took a lot of shots of the view but it was very hard to capture the grandeur of the settiing and the light was generally not great. This shot was my favourite of the bunch, looking NW towards the Isle of Muck, the most southerly of the Small Isles, in the late evening as the sun was heading towards the horizon.
On the way home on the 30th we stopped at Ariundle oak woods, near Strontian, and went for a walk around the official trail. This is not a strenuous walk at all, taking you through some beautiful old woodland with magnificent ancient oak trees, mossy carpets covering the forest floor, calling Jays and a fantastic range of butterflies in the more open areas. For my regular readers, you will already know about my love of these old woods and the Celtic Rainforest in particular. These woods are among the best examples of this kind of temperate rainforest, illustrated by the wonderful array of mosses, lichens and ferns growing on the forest floor and on the stems and branches of these ancient trees. Well worth a visit if you have not been there before.
This Harebell caught my attention as a beautifully delicate little flower in an open area near the river. The petals are so fine and softly coloured that they make excellent subjects for close-up photography.
While visiting the Ardnamuchan area we also took the opportunity of a flying visit to Tobermory on Mull, by ferry from Kilchoan on the afternoon of the 29th. This was literally a whistle-stop visit in order to catch the last ferry back, but it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, which justified an ice cream - fantastic! The place was very busy and that came as a bit of a shock as I have not really been to many towns frequented by tourists in recent months. Slightly scary to be honest. Maybe a visit at a quieter time of year next time!
I am proud to annouce that Iain Turnbull Photography has just become a Supporter of the Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere.
Biosphere Reserves (generally known as Biospheres in the UK) are designated under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. They are often located in breath-taking landscapes, and so can be confused with statutory designations such as National Scenic Areas, or perhaps the better known World Heritage Sites. While conservation of natural and cultural heritage plays an integral role, Biospheres do not draw a hard line between people and nature. Rather, they consider that nature is always surrounded by people, and that people need nature to live. They explore how to connect people, nature and development in sustainable ways.
Wester Ross was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in April 2016 and promotes conservation and sustainable development. The Supporter Scheme was launched recently to develop links with local businesses and community groups. Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere Supporters are businesses, schools, communities and groups who already demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development, as well as those who want to do so. Supporters are required to demonstrate how they are contributing to action under three broad headings of Living, Learning and Legacy.
Further details about the Biosphere can be found at https://wrb.scot/ and information about the Supporter Scheme, including a download link to the application form or for online applications can be found at: https://wrb.scot/join-us/biosphere-charter
My 2020 Steadings Gallery Exhibition gets underway in a matter of hours today, running until 14th August at Balmacara Square. The event is open daily from 11am to 5pm and entry is free. As a taster of what you will see I have prepared a pdf e-Book of the images with a little description and commentary from me. The e_Book can be found here. It is best viewed in the two-page view as you get the image on one page and the text on the adjacent. I hope you enjoy it and I welcome feedback. I hope to see lots of visitors to the exhibition over the next two weeks. All images are available for sale in a variety of formats so if you are interested please get in touch via my Contact page.
I have just sorted out, printed, mounted and framed all my photos for my 2020 Steadings Gallery Exhibition which opens this Saturday. The exhibition runs for two weeks this year, starting on the 1st August and will be open daily from 11am to 5pm. There is no particular theme to the exhibition, but it includes a range of different formats including large and medium sized canvases, framed prints and mounted and un-mounted prints. There are a selection of my more recent foray into photo painting and some of my desaturated photos along with the more traditional colour and black & white images. All exhibited photos will be for sale along with the mounted and un-mounted prints, greetings cards and postcards, and custom orders can also be placed.
The Steadings Gallery is operated by the National Trust for Scotland at their Balmacara Estate in Wester Ross and is located in Balmacara Square, IV40 8DJ. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we will be operating a 'One Group In - One Group Out' system to keep everyone safe and visitors will be expected to adhere to the Scottish Government's Social Distancing Guidelines, including wearing a face covering when in the building and avoiding touching the exhibitions. Unfortunately, the toilets will not be available for use by the public.
Also open in The Square will be the NTS Visitor Information Centre (unstaffed), Beth's Cafe and Delicatessen, the 'Home in The Highlands' shop (please check their respective websites/social media platforms for details of opening times). There is also a good range of walks available from The Square so why not pop down and enjoy the full experience.
Enquiries can be made directly to Iain Turnbull at email@example.com or by calling 07733674947.
At the weekend I had a brief opportunity to visit the beach at Ashaig on the Isle of Skye. I wanted to try out my 10 stop Zomei HD Schott Glass ND1000 filter to see how it worked in terms of colour distortion. This is a relatively recent acquisition, having previously relied on a cheap circular variable ND filter, with poor results, with images showing a dstinct magenta colour cast. I have to say that I was very pleased with the results from this filter, with no colour cast to speak of, and clear images. I tried combining the filter with the same make of ND grad filter to darken the sky a bit, but the effect was that all the dust on the lens surface caused lots of magenta aberrations. I need to learn to clean my camera kit more often. Anyway, the result was good from the filter perspective and I look forward to using it more in the future.
This past week was very exciting after all this time in lockdown, with a four day trip to visit our friends at Paible, North Uist. The weather was not at its best but we did have some breaks in the overcast providing some moments of interesting light and some sunshine. This shot was taken on our first evening, looking south-west across Loch Sandary towards Cnoc an Torainn. I have processed it with my new semi-desaturated look, which I am getting quite into. I feel that there is a tendency with digital images to over-process and produce overly saturated images and this is a kind of reaction to that.
The following images are a mix of landscapes and some of our friends and their two Westies on the beach.
So this weekend, at last it was possible to get out and about with the camera, a little further than five miles at least. The above photo of Bla Bheinn from the shore of Loch Slapin is my favourite from the two days, just managing to catch a brief bit of light on parts of the mountain and the moody dark sky adding to the sense of drama.
On Saturday I had to pop up to Kinlochewe, so took the opportunity to drive on towards Gairloch. I had never been right along the road to Red Point, so decided to take a bit of reconnaisance trip, despite the light being a bit flat and the rain being a constant threat. I took the chance of using my Intrepid 5x4" large format camera and will soon be in the darkroom to see how those exposures come out. However, as always, I took along my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mark II and lenses producing this image, more-or-less the same composition as the large format exposures. This is looking down the Inner Sound with the Skye hills on the right and in front. It looked a bit flat in colour but the conversion to monochrome definately adds something to the sky. The seat provides a bit of a leading line into the frame.
On the way home I took the Shieldaig to Applecross road, while it was still not too busy with tourists, and shot these two images, the first looking back across Loch Torridon, which might make it into my collection of Passing Places.
The second image is from the top of the Bealach na Ba, looking across one of the rockiest expanses of ground anywhere in the country. I particularly liked the way the distant peak (Carn Dearg) was showing intermittently through the low cloud. The colours of the stones in the foreground are amazingly red.
This afternoon, I crossed the bridge to Skye, although I had little hope of anything good with the camera, with heavy rainfall as I headed towards Kyle of Lochalsh. However, as is so often the way with the west Highlands, the weather can change in a second, and so it was when I arrived at Torrin. The first image, at the top of this post, is definately my favourite from the day, capturing that elusive moment with bright patches of sunlight through the clouds in an otherwise dark and brooding landscape. I also took the chance to shoot some more with my Intrepid large format camera, and the next image is approximately the same composition I selected, I will post those images once I have developed the film along with the one from yesterday. The film version will be in black and white, this one is desaturated colour.
The final shot was taken from just below the trees in the previous image, looking up towards Beinn Dearg Mhor. The contrasting colours of the mountain from the tree and the grassy foreground, set against the grey cloudy sky appealed to me.
It was a bit of a wet day today so I thought I would pass the time trying out some photo painting to create a watercolour effect with some of my images. I did a bit of research over the past couple of days and there are lots of ways of doing this, some more complex than others. Today I discovered this guy (Seven Styles) who has produced a Photoshop Action file that randomly convertes your image into a watercolour. It takes a bit of adjustment afterwards to get it the way you want it but it is certainly effective. The top image is of a small square in Saumur where we had a coffee and ice cream a couple of summers ago. I have always wanted to paint this kind of scene in watercolour, so I thought I would try it out digitally. I like the effect although it is a bit of a cheat I guess.
The following are a few more examples from my experimentation this afternoon and evening. As always, feedback is welcome.
I am an amateur photographer who is also a Chartered Geographer 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.