This is a shot of An Tobar (the well) at Port an Eorna. The well is the dark hole in the centre of the photo, you can just see the channel where the water runs down towards the pool at the bottom. These old wells can be found all round the Highlands & Islands and would have been of critical importance to these small communities. This community still gets its water supply from the burn you can see entering the picture on the left. You can also see the old tractor, ruined croft house and a more recent croft house, merging the old with the new.
The shot below empitomises modern crofting where many of the old croft houses have been long abandoned to be replaced by much larger modern affairs, often with picture windows to take in the view. In days of old the houses were small to make them easier to heat and located in sheltered spots to avoid the worst of the weather. Now, since a lot of these houses have been developed as second homes the view is ore important and modern materials and building techniques allow greater scope I guess.
These old Ferguson TE20 tractors were the workhorse of the crofting areas and possibly more than any other piece of machinery revolutionised the agricultural systems of the crofting areas. For the first time crofters could use powered machinery to do various tasks such as mowing and ploughing. The small size of the Fergie is one of its greatest assets, being relatively light it does not compact the soil as much as modern machines do, and in these wet climes anything that reduces compaction and poaching of the soil is a good thing.
This shot was taken directly into the sun so I used HDR to balance the brightness with the shaded areas. It produces a vibrant and more colourful result but allows for greater range of contrast. In this shot the foreground is dominated by a wetland area that regularly hosts good numbers of Whinchat and occasional Snipe during the summer. The grassy area off to the middle left is a fantastically species-rich meadow with huge numbers of Greater Butterfly Orchids.
A quick visit to Drumbuie this morning before work was all I could manage today. That being said there was a bit of snow on the ground but it was otherwise not a bad morning with a bit of cloud and a little blue sky. I thought would try and get some shots of the old buildings at Drumbuie for for Crofting Landscape project but unfortunately ran out of time before I could get much done. I managed a few not very good shots, some very much like ones I have done before, but this was probably the best of them.
For my Higher Photography project I have decided, perhaps not surprisingly, to do a study of the crofting cultural landscape of the Balmacara estate. While this might be considered to be well within my comfort zone I am hoping to try and take an unusual perspective of things, based on the findings of the NTS Landscape Character Assessment carried out last year to try and illustrate some of the key elements of the crofting landscape and what defines that distinctive quality that we too often take for granted. So today I popped out for a quick photo shoot after dropping the girls off at school. It was brilliant low sunshine (about 8:30 am) when I started and then all of a sudden there were snowy squalls coming in from the Sound of Raasay. The atmospheric light was quite special so I hope I have managed to capture some sense of that in these few shots. I am not sure any of these will end up in the final 12 images I need to produce for the project but it is a start.
I also took a couple of more general landscape shots, one panorama of the Cuillins from Dubh-aird, Plockton and the other of the Bealach na Ba from the Balmacara to Duirinish road. I tried the latter one in black & white as well and cropped it a bit closer and I think it is quite dramatic.
Today was a mixed day of walking the dogs, dashing down to the shore late morning to try and catch a shot of an otter, then off to Inverness in lovely sunshine. This meant I had three distinct opportunities to get a decent shot. The first (above) was taken from the beach at Glaick while out with the dogs this morning. The next one (below) is probably the best shot I managed of an otter which was fishing just below Craggan Cottage at Glaick. I used the Canon EOS 500D for this one. It has a cropped sensor so with the 150-500mm Sigma DG lens that produced a 800mm zoom which meant I got a pretty good reach - great lens. The light was not great as I was looking into the sun but I am pretty pleased with the result considering. Finally, I stopped again near the Bunloyne junction on the A87 on my way through to Inverness. There is a nice stand of birch trees which i have meant to try and shoot for some time. Today the light was good with clear bright blue sky and snow on the background hills above Cluanie Dam. I am not sure the stems came out as clearly as I would have liked but it worked OK.
Today we had a Higher Photography day at the West Highland College at Broadford focusing on studio lighting for still life and portraiture. I have posted some of my better photos from the day including some shots of my old Bronica ETRSi medium format film camera, my sighting compass, a still life with a creel, old wheel and turf spade and a couple of still lifes. I did some of these in both colour and black and white to see how they come across. I also messes around a little with the clarity settings in Lightroom, mainly to try and soften off creases in the backgrounds.
I got this shot on the way home from Inverness today just east of the Bunloyne junction. There had just been a snow storm and it had almost completely cleared away leaving blue sky to the west and the birch trees were completely covered in sparkling droplets of water and positively gleaming, set off against the coruscating Moriston River and the darker spruce and larch forest behind. I used HDR processing having auto-bracketed three shots by +/- 2 stops as I was looking into the bright light. I also used a circular polarising filter. I took several shots looking towards the hill above Cluanie Dam where there was cloud disappearing, but the light on the birch was not so good and they didn't really come out that well. This shot actually works quite well in black & white as well (see the wider shot below) but I think I prefer the subtle colours above.
Beautiful sunny morning but a cold east wind provided good light and some interesting clouds in a bright blue sky. This was a view through the pinewood over Loch Alsh with the bright green of the mossy ground flora providing a great contrast to the blue sky and dark trees.
These were all taken yesterday during a lovely walk from the Goirsdean at Drumbuie, up the hill to Creag na Cat (The Crag of the Wildcat) sadly no wildcats but great view to the Cuillins on Skye, and back down through Duirinish Village. The flat striated rock exposure on one of the tops was almost flat but heavily scoured by glaciation presumably and about 3 m x 5 m in size, surrounded by wet moorland vegetation and heather, very unusual to see but I thought made a good image with the Cuillins in the background. The sun was really warm for the first time in ages but there was a bitter east wind when I got to the top of the crags. Some of these photos might end up being used in my Higher Photography project or at least as development for a more planned visit/photo shoot later in the spring.
A beautiful morning today down at the beach at Balmacara House with the dogs. This panorama was taken with five shots holding the camera in portrait orientation to maximise the depth and it came out quite well. The sky was possibly a bit darker with a little more colour in the clouds but it is always difficult to get the exposure balanced properly when stitching a panorama together.
Sadly my aim to post at least one photo each day this year has not been achieved. Over the weekend we were down in Edinburgh at the Scotland vs England rugby match. I decided not to take my proper camera and rely on my phone for images of the game and something on the way home the following day. Unfortunately my phone has malfunctioned and appears to have corrupted all the images taken on it so I cannot post anything for this weekend. I should have known better than to rely on my mobile technology but what can I say. Anyway, I will continue to post as often as possible, and hopefully most days, so keep watching. Interestingly I just checked my blog stats and so far I have had over 1600 page views and almost 600 unique visitors since mid December. Pretty impressive and much more than I expected. Since I don't have that many friends on Facebook I am guessing there must be folk out there who have checked it out. If so please feel free to post comments. Thanks
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.
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