Today we had our first real snow of winter, with snow falling almost to sea level, albeit in small quantities. The morning was overcast but it cleared away to a lovely afternoon with occasional sunny spells. I took the opportunity, late in the afternoon, to capture this shot, just a few hundred metres from the house. My regular readers will recognise this old stunted pine tree by the shores of Loch Alsh, with a snowy Beinn na Caillach in the background. The warm glow coming from the right was the sun setting off to the west, as early as 3pm!
For this photo I post-processed as usual in Adobe Lightroom CC Classic and then exported it to Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro2 to convert to black & white. I then applied selective colourisation and other adjustments, resulting in this image with darker de-saturated tones which is a style I have come to like a lot recently. I then reduced the clarity back in Lightroom to produce a softer effect which I felt worked well with this composition. For comparison the original Lightroom processed image is shown below (left) with the un-softened de-saturated version (below right)
The second image (below) was shot from the same point (more-or-less) looking east across Loch Alsh towards the hills of Kintail with the same pine tree much more prominent in the foreground this time. The raw image was treated in much the same way as the above one.
Another flying visit to the north end of Skye today yielded this fantastic shot looking south down the Sound of Raasay. The light shing on the water through a break in the clouds, along with the localised curtains of rain, made for a compelling composition. I did not have my usual full frame dslr and lenses with me so had to resort to my cropped sensor 205D with the only lens I had, a wide-angle zoom lens (10-20mm - equivanelt to 16-32mm on the full frame). This shot was fully zoomed in to try and capture the main area of interest as well as possible but I still had little choice but to crop it further in post-processing to remove the wider landscape which detracted from the sense of drama produced by the combination of sunlight and showers. Balancing the exposure with the incredibly bright sunlight on the water and the darker land was a challenge but I think it worked out quite well.
This weekend I took a few minutes outside with my youngest daughter, Ciara, to try out a bit of fill flash practice. This is something I have always struggled to master in the past. Basically, when shooting portraits outdoors, for example, it is often difficult to balance the exposure on the subject’s face with what can sometimes be a much brighter background or sky. If you expose for the background the subject in the foreground can be quite dark. On the other hand, if you expose for the face the background can be blown out or at least horribly over-exposed. Thus, fill flash does exactly what it says on the tin, it provides some extra fill lighting to the foreground, allowing you to expose correctly for the background. You simply measure the correct exposure for the background, as if you were taking a landscape shot perhaps. You then focus on the subject’s face and use the flash to brighten the foreground. The key is getting the correct balance of flash to provide a natural looking light. Too much and the background looks dark compared to the foreground, and vice versa. These photos worked reasonably well, but it took a bit of experimenting and a good few poor results. Ciara was not really posing for the camera, just acting as a subject so I could realistically balance the exposure, but these two work OK I think.
The other trick is getting the colour balance right. These both turned out a bit warmer than I expected, although the sunlight was quite low and a bit warm so not far out from reality. However, as always, I just had to try them in monochrome, first straight black & white, then sepia and in the case of the profile shot a mock Holga film style which I really like (see below). A bit more practice required with more interesting compositions and we'll see what that leads to - more to follow he said cryptically....
I am just about to place the order for my Iain Turnbull Photography 2021 Calendar. There will be a very limited print run of only 50 copies in the same format as the last couple of years (A4 spiral bound), see the example images below. They come in a cellophane wrap and will make a perfect Christmas gift at £10 each (plus £2.00 postage & packing in the UK - for overseas orders please specify your address in your contact email when you place your order and I'll get back to you with a price for delivery before confirming your order). Copies can be pre-ordered by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org but hurry as stocks may run out fast.
Today was a beautiful soft autumn day with almost no wind, wonderfully mild and plenty of sunshine. After spending most of the day indoors doing stuff around the house I got out towards the end of the day with my daughter Eilish and Broc (the dog) for a walk to the beach at Balmacara Bay.
I took my back-up crop sensor dslr camera because it is small and not too heavy, and to be honest I did not expect anything worth photographing. Which just goes to show that you should always be prepared. It turned out we had a lovely sunset over Beinn na Caillich on Skye. These are my two favourite shots, the first is ultra-wide at 10mm (equivalent to 16mm on a full frame dslr) and captures the clouds really nicely. The second is zoomed a little closer in at 14mm (equivalent to 22.4mm on a full frame dslr) and captures the brighter colourful areas a bit better. The rock in the foreground also adds perspective to the scene.
It was a genuinely lovely and peaceful end to the day, or day-light at least.
Today marked the first properly beautiful day in a month and I had no commitments, so I just had to get out with my camera. The light was pretty bright so I opted mainly for IR photography, especially as my normal DSLR batteries were almost completely flat (not having been used for ages and I had forgotten to charge them!). This first image is probably my favourite from a day of disappointing results generally. This is a steep learning curve, using IR filters with focussing problems and my ultra-wide angle lens produced a hideous halo effect on most of my images when shot at its widest zoom. I think it was caused by flare from the low sun, which appears to be exacerbated by the IR filter, because the ones taken without the filter appear OK. The next image was taken from slightly further down the burn wide a wider perspective but a little less wide-angle on the lens.
I stopped at Cill Chriosd on my way to Torrin but unfortunately my shots of the churchyard came out really badly, with the sun being at the worst angle. I did manage the following normal spectrum shot of the loch looking towards Bla Bheinn which shows what a beautiful day it was.
I ended the day at Elgol and shot a few images of the Cuillins from the rocks at Elgol Beach. None really worked for me with this being the best of them.
I took a few moments this morning to take a few more Infra Red (IR) images at Balmacara Square. There was a bit of broken sunshine and still a little foliage on some of the trees, providing a compelling setting with the mill pond and old buildings.
With IR imagery the foliage turns bright white, including grass, leaves, etc., and the blue sky turns dark with contrasting white clouds, providing an almost winter frost/snow effect which can be really interesting. The focus is very difficult to get right as IR light focuses differently from visible light, and along with the generally longer exposures required when using a 720 IR filter (effectively 10 stops), this tends to produce a softness and slightly noisey image.
I had a quick mess around with Infrared (IR) photography at lunchtime today. I have seen a few outstanding black & white IR photos and I really want to try and get it to work for me. I have an Astro adapted camera so tried using that with a 720nm filter which ought to work. It effectively applies a 10 stop filter to the camera though, so this means long exposures and tends to work better in bright sunlight and when the foliage is green. Thus, it was not an ideal day to try this out but it could have been worse.
The above shot was the best final edited image I managed with the shot below being the colour version. The wierd colours can be quite appealing at times but I prefer the black & white version. I will continue with this method when conditions suit and see where it gets me.
On Friday afternoon I found time to pop over to Plockton for a short walk down to the beach at Dubh-aird. The above shot was taken from the parking area, looking across the crofts towards the Applecross Hills. I used my 70-200mm lens at full zoom to foreshorten the perspective and emphasise the contrast between the sunny foreground and the shadow on the hills. The desaturated style emphasises the textures in the landscape while retaining the essence of the autumnal colours which would have been lost in monochrome.
The following couple of shots were also taken from the parking area, looking out to sea, towards Raasay. The stormy squalls were producing curtains of rain and patches of light across the landscape. I found the contrast between the light and dark areas hard to expose correctly but, with a little post-processing and opting once again for the desaturated style, I feel these two images work well.
On my way home I stopped at Drumbuie at one of my favourite views across the crofts, looking towards Duirinish and the Beinn Damh in the background. The following image captures the view nicely, demonstrating the mix of habitats in this marvellous landscape and the variable light that is so common at this time of year.
After a week on leave I had singularly failed to capture any decent images, mainly due to the poor weather and surprisingly few opportunities to get out with the camera. So today I was determined to get out with the camera, regardless of the rain and the wind. There were some really nice breaks in the wet stuff where the sunshine provided excellent light, but I sadly missed them. The result was a long drive around Lochalsh, seeking inspiration, and ultimately a journey to the top of Glen Shiel to an old favourite subject of mine.
This isolated tree illustrates perfectly the human impact on the landscape. Apart from some forestry blocks and a few isolated clumps of native trees in less accessible areas, these vast spaces are devoid of the natural tree cover that should be there. This is the reuslt of a culture of deer stalking, where preference is given to having larger numbers of beasts to shoot, for pleasure, as opposed to balancing nature. Further down Glen Shiel you can see the difference either side of a deer fence, where a native woodland scheme is now growing with heather on the open spaces between the clumps of trees. On the hill side of the fence, which is open to grazing by deer, there is no heather and virtually no trees.
These two images demonstrate this naked landscape that has been degraded over centuries by mankind, or at least larger landowners, in the pursuit of pleasure. These isolated trees are a symbol of what might be if the deer numbers could be properly brought under control. The first image is taken looking south-east towards Coire an t-Slugain and Druim Shionnach. The following image was taken from slightly further east, looking south-west towards A' Chioch.
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.