Another day off today since it was meant to be a lovely clear sunny day. Perhaps not surprisingly Skye managed to provide almost all seasons in one day during our trip to Trotternish. The main target for the trip was a visit for lunch to the Pie Cafe at the Glenview Inn - very nice it was. Then off for a circuit of the top end of the peninsula. The light improved as the afternoon progressed with some interesting views of the Storr and Beinn Edra as we headed back towards Portree. Also, while I was taking a shot of Beinn Edra a White-tailed Eagle appeared overhead - the shot below was the best I could manage, not too bad given it was a fair distance off.
I took advantage of a day off work today and some decent weather to pop down to Drumbuie to get some more shots for my Higher Photography project. The light was not too bad, although the angles I wanted to shoot meant I had to use some HDR methods to ensure a decent exposure. The sky had plenty of cloud and open gaps of blue to ensure interest in most of the shots as well, so all in all quite a good day for it. Over the past couple of days I have been doing more research for the project and found that Paul Strand, a famous American photographer from the first half of the 20th Century, had visited South Uist in the 50s and had produced some interesting shots, all black & white. Also, having looks again at some of Ansel Adams material I have pretty much decided to stick with that format (B&W) for my 12 shots for the project. Hence, all today;s images are presented as B&W. Again, following Ansel Adams lead I have opted for a fairly high contrast appearance but otherwise tried to stick to pretty much a straight photography philosophy, i.e. not too much messing around with Photoshop, etc. Today's product is shown below as a slideshow.
In one of the brief gaps between showers today I managed to get a decent view of the Bealach na Ba from Achintraid, by Kishorn. The above panorama was stitched together from 5 shots using a bit of a zoom to try and get a bit more detail in the shot. The one below is probably more interesting with the old grey Fergie tractor and the upturned boat in the foreground. I think compositionally it might have been better if I could have moved the tractor more to the right in the foreground, so the exhaust pipe was less in the middle f the view but there was a bridge over the burn which was in the way so had to make do with this vantage point.
Time is passing and the deadline for submission of our Higher Photography project is approaching fast, only about 8 weeks left now. The timing has perhaps not been ideal being winter, at least as far as my chosen subject is concerned. I have decided to do a study of the Crofting Cultural Landscape of the Balmacara Estate. We have had some good weather and I have managed to get a good number of decent shots, albeit not all of the subjects I would like as yet. Still, there is time left to fill some gaps and I hope to make significant progress during the Easter holiday.
Anyway I have put together a little slide show of my best 50 images so far. There is a bit of repetition/similarity about some of these but we only have to select a final 12 images so the hard job of cutting them down still has to be done. These images have been uploaded at pretty low resolution so are not greta quality but should give an impression of where I am going. I have chosen to use black & white, partly because I like that format as it emphasises contrast, and the winter landscape often had pretty muted colours anyway. Plus, I think the B&W format adds a sense of age that reflects some of the old photos of the area from c. 100 years ago in the Duncan MacPherson collection for example (see the Am Baile website).
I had a few minutes earlier today and popped over to Loch Achaidh na h-Inich to see if I could get a half decent shot of a Goldeneye and discovered a small group of Whooper Swans as well as the usual wintering Goldeneye. The light was pretty poor so I had to use a reasonably high ISO and open up the aperture on the big lens as far as it would go. The result was these two shots which are a bit noisy, and that is after reducing the noise significantly in Lightroom, but I think despite not be pin sharp they are not too bad with the bright yellow bills of the swans and the golden eye of the Goldeneye showing really nicely. I should have noticed that the exposure was a bit tight and reduced the shutter speed a bit, maybe to 1/500 sec although I was keen to try and stop any movement of the birds on the water.
I shot these over the last couple of days down at Balmacara Bay and Kirkton Bay. The gulls, curlew and ringed plover are not great but I like the eiders and the skylark. They were all shot on my Canon EOS 500D with the Sigma 150-500 lens at full zoom. I have cropped all of them to varying degrees and the ones of on the water were taken at a pretty high ISO so a little noise reduction was required but it allowed me to get a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 sec; hence the best shot I think of the eider flapping its wings is stopped pretty sharply.
This week has been a truly beautiful one weather-wise. I managed to get out a couple of times today, first thing and then later this afternoon and got some nice reflections on Loch Scalpaidh and interesting views around the estate as well. Could have done with a little more could in the sky to add interest as opposed to undisturbed blue, but I honestly can't complain given that we normally have too much cloud.
This settlement at Port Ban at the mouth of the Allt Duirinish was abandoned after a cholera outbreak with the victims being buried on site. Since then the area has never been re-settled.
I went out for a quick recce for the upcoming croft bird survey today so I took my Canon EOS 500D (cropped ASP-C sensor) and my Sigma 150-500 mm zoom lens which with the cropped sensor actually produces the equivalent of an 800 mm lens on a full frame camera. I hoped to get at least one shot of a bird somewhere, but despite seeing a Golden Plover (pretty unusual for us), a Yellowhammer chasing off a Mistle Thrush and a few Goldfinch not much was doing so I had to settle for a highland cow.
This shot was taken in good light with a wide aperture to blur the background but I thought the background was a bit boring so I tried messing with the saturation levels of the various colours in Lightroom. The result is a pretty much B&W background with the cow highlighted in colour - what do you think? I think it is quite cool.
Another beautiful day today and I managed to get about an hour out with the camera after dropping Ciara off at the school bus. These are some of the shots I got. I used a polarising filter for most of these shots which has really emphasised the blue skies and the clouds. Also with the deep shade caused by the low sun I had to use HDR for the shots of the buildings to avoid large areas of silhouette.
This shot was a bit fortunate as the bird flew right past me and perched on this post not too far away. However, I didn't have much time and forgot to change the aperture to get a slightly better depth of field and increase the ISO to keep the shutter speed up, and at extreme range and maximum zoom I think there is a little bit of camera shake, plus the auto focus refused to work proper. So all in all not too bad a result.
What a beautiful day toady, it almost felt like Spring had arrived. I thought I would miss an excellent day for getting some shots because I had to go through to Dingwall and Inverness but in fact it meant I got some great views over Loch Carron on the way there, and of Kintail on the way back. Great early morning and lat afternoon light.
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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