On my way home this afternoon, after helping release some of our new red squirrels, I stopped at Duirinish to capture the dramatic light on the croft land there. The above shot is one of my favourite views which I have taken several times but the light today was just perfect, highlighting the low angled shadows and fence posts. The whole view was rendered special though by the snow on Sgurr Coinneach in the background and the light refleced on the clouds, juxtaposed against the bright blue sky.
As the sun fell lower, and disappeared behind some clouds I was able to take the following shot looking towards Drumbuie with the Cuillins in the background. This was still very bright, looking directly into the sun, so I used the auto-bracket function and merged the three shots using Lightroom's HDR tool to try and retain some of the foreground detail without blowing out the sky.
Finally, I have tried without much success to photograph Highland cattle. They do pose the difficulty of moving a fair bit so a fast shutter speed is required. Match that with my desire to try and get enough depth of field to retain the detail in the head but have a blurred background it is a delicate balancing act. I don't much like the colour version of this one so opted for black & white, and then used various tools in Lightroom to darken down the background a bit and empahsise the cow's head. It was pretty poor light by this time so I had to up the ISO to my cakera's maximum of 6400 so the image was a bit grainy. I reduced this using Nik Collection's Define programme which made the final image not too bad.
Anothe beautiful sunny morning with the snow on the hills and bright blue skies with broken cloud, all ideal conditions for some decent landscape photography. So, I couldn't resist the temptation to pop over to Plockton and try and get some images of the Brae crofts. This shot is taken from Camas an Arbhair looking over Cama nam Breac towards the Applecross and beinn Damh hills. The snow provides excellent definition to the scarified hills and the trees either side of the foreground frame the compositon quite well, eading the eye towards the bay and on towards the hills in the distance. I did a couple of adjustments in Colour Efex Pro, applying a polarization filter and a skylight filter to rbing out the vibrancy of the light which did not really get captured proeprly by the camera.
I took a few other shots of the croft land at the Brae, Plockton with a few sheep, etc. Nothing special but they do show the fence lines and character of the crofts there.
When you walk along the Brae track you get excellent views of the village of Plockton, from an unusual angle, showing the rear of the houses on harbour Street. This view is not as tidy as that from the street itself. There are also some interesting little passageways running from the Brae down to the street below, offering interesting light and shade contrasts as can be seen below.
I took a similar shot to this one in October 2015 (see below) and decided to try again today since it had been wet at the wekeend and there was a lot of water in the river. Today's shot certainly captured the sense of movement in the water but prefer the composition of the earlier one, with greater sense of depth and finer wispier water in the falls. I doubt if this would have looked quite as delicate today though. I tried using an ND Grad filter to darken the sky a bit, but didn't really achieve that very well, probably due to the very high contrast between the bright sky and the gloominess of the tree-lined watercourse.
This is a shot of a bloom taken from our Camelia plant in the graden. It always flowers really early providing spectacular colour during the otherwise normally grey/brown late winter. It is quite difficult to get it all in focus, without the background details being captured too so I opted for shallow depth of field and focused on the centre of the flower with the anthers in sharp focus. I also tried converting this to black & white and took a few shots closer in on the anthers as shwon below. The shot below was converted to B&W using Nik's Silver Efex Pro. I applied a medium yellow filter effect to brighten up the anthers and provide better contrast with the pink petals. This also highlights the rain drops a bit too.
The close-ups work quite well but better in B&W I think. Again this was converted using Silver Efex Pro and a simila ryellow filter effect added.
I took this shot this morning while out with the dogs. I had my cropped frame Canon 500D camera with me for convenience with my 18-55mm IS lens which worked quite well given the relatively low light levels. I envisaged this in black & white with the raindrops on the leaves and a soft focused background, hence the largest aperture setting. I might try it again with a tripod and my full frame 5D and some extension tubes, etc.
I thought I would try a little bit of close-up/macro work this lunchtime and decided upon the Valentine roses as a subject. This was a lovely red rose which I tried photographing at different zooms using both my EF 24-105 f/4.0 L Lens and my EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Then I tried using my smallest 13mm extension tube and then combined it with the 31mm tube, giveing a total extension tube of 44mm. I also tried varying the aperture to get a nice soft focus feel but as the extension tube length increased I had real difficulty focusing. By reducing the aperture to f/20 I managed to get a reasonably sharp image and the depth of field is limited by the extension tubes, so it still looks nice and soft at the edges. While I likes the colour version I always felt it might convert well into black & white, which it does I think.
I also took some shots of a white rose (see below), with only the 13mm extension tube in this case. It works well too but I prefer the red one.
I really enjoyed messing around with the extension tubes but focusing is very difficult and it takes time. The effect however is really compelling I think so I will keep experimenting on more flowers, probably wild ones as spring arrives and moves into summer.
Just for reference here are the original images. I like them both in colour, especially the red rose but my passion for B&W keeps me going back to monochrome.
The last few days have brought fantastic clear sunny frosty mornings and I have had the chance to get out for a few shots. Yesterday on the estate and today on my way through to Inverness. The shot above was taken today just as the sun was rising above the south Cluanie hills, highlighting the snow-covered tops but still keepig the northen slopes in shadow. The sky was a brilliant blue, although there was a thin hazy cloud to the west, which interestingly showed up more in the photos than it did to the naked eye. I also took a wider shot of the whole ridge, looking west towards Glen Shiel (below). The other shots were taken yesterday on the estate here at Balmacara from the hilside above Drumbuie. The first looks over the township of Drumbuie towards the crofts at Duirinish and with the Bealach na Ba in the background. The other is looking towards the Cuillins on Skye with Loch Erbusaig showing in the medium foreground to the left.
This shot was taken this afternoon at the Coral Beach, Plockton in an attempt to replicte the effect Ansel Adams acheived in his image "River, Sea, Clouds, Rodeo Beach, Marin County". I needed a bit more light on the rivulets running down the beach to capture that kind of effect, and probably a bit more water too, but I am sure if you look up that image you'll get what I was trying to do.
I also found a rather nice red scallop shell and some coral and spoots (razor clams) and arranged them in a nice little still life and got a few nice landscape shots from, and of the beach (below).
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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