I had a short jaunt around the estate this afternoon with my Panasonic Lumix mirrorless camera and its lenscap fisheye lens. This is an interesting cheap little lens with plastic lens elements, fixed aperture of f/8 and only three focus settings, close-up (20cm), middle and distant. I took these shots in Aperture priority mode, as that is fixed anyway, and let the camera select the shutterspeed and ISO.
The above image is one rendition of three that I created from the same raw file. I like this one in black & white and the low vantage point and ultra wide-angle lens really emphasises her head and the span of her horns. I like the framing of this one with the bright blue sky (darkened here with a red filter appl;ied in Nik Solution's Silver Efex Pro) and the trees leaning inwards lsightly due to the wide-angle distortion of the lens.
The next two shots are from the same RAW file, the first, simply colour version of the one above. The second is a portrait crop which I think would make an excellent gift card.
The remaining images were all taken at Kirkton where there is an traditional old Lochalsh type barn which is category C(S) listed. Adjacent to the barn is a lovely path that leads to the saltmarsh and shore at Kirkton Bay and there were a few nice woody glades with bluebells and primroses worth a shot or two. For these shots I decided to stick with the wide-angle approach, aiming to get close to the foreground features while retaining an element of their context in the background. The exception is the last one of the ivy covered fence post which was taken using my 100-300mm lens.
This fabulous Eatser weekend brough great weather and all the spring flowers have bloomed and the trees are now properly in flush. I thought I would try and capture some of these early signs of colour in close-up mode.
This morning was an early start for the first croftland bird survey at Balmacara Estate. Today we were at Duirinish and Drumbuie from 6:30 to 8:45 am for what was a beautiful calm morning. We had 34 species of bird recorded in total if you include the great northern divers and a guillemot offshore. Highlights were the first wheatears of the year, of which the above was one very obliging male who sat nicely on this fence post while I took a few shots, also a single twite, lots of linnet and lesser redpoll and skylarks singing, reed bunting and a merlin. There can't be too many better ways to start a day than wandering around these wonderful crofting townships listening to the spring bird song as the sun rises above the eastern horizon, and no midges yet.
This is a macro shot of Aileen's Phalaenopsis Orchid (at least I think that is the correct type of orchid), which I noticed was in full flower today. It was sitting on the window sill nicely lit by the overcast daylight, against a beige backdrop. I decided to try a simple macro shot and set up pretty quickly using my 105mm macro lens set at a fairly small aperture to maintain a decent depth of field. The petals on the extreme left of the rear flower-head are a little bit bright at the edges for my liking, but otherwise it came out quite nicely. I tried a couple of different apertures which resulted in much shallower depth of field and didn't really like the results. The image didn't need much by way of post precoessing, just removal of dust spots from my sensor and a little adjustment to the exposure and whites and an small increase in the luminence of the reds and oranges to bring up the darkened areas at the centre of the flower heads.
Ths Sunday was a beautiful early spring day and I took the opportunity to take a road trip to Gairloch and Loch Ewe with my camera. Essentially it was really more of a reconnaisance visit to check out possibilities for future photo shoots but I managed to capture a few decent shots of what has to be one of the most picturesque parts of the country. There is a lot of fuss about Skye, but to be honest I think Wester Ross has evrything and more that you can get on Skye. Fabulous mountains, beautiful coastline, magnificent beaches and lots of lovely little communities.
The above shot is one that I have often thought about stopping for but have until now never quite been there with my camera when I had the time and the conditions. The remnants of snow on the hills makes their cragginess really show well. The reflection in the loch, with the old fence post in the foreground adds drama and a little human interest.
The next few shots were taken at Melvaig and at the lighthouse at Rubha Reidh near Gairloch. This was a new road for me to explore as I had never gone beyond Big Sand before, which is quite hard to believe given the number of times I have been to Gairloch and I worked at Poolewe for a summer back in 1986. This is certainly an area I will go back to as there is an interesting walk further along the coast towards what looks like a great isolated beach at Cama Mor just about 1km beyond the lighthouse.
After visiting Melvaig I headed back towards Gairloch and then on to Loch Ewe and Inverasdale, and some of my old haunts from 1986. The landscape is enormous with the Torridon hills to the south and looking north-east across Fisherfield, and this can be challenging to capture effectively on the camera. I resorted to a few panoramas as follows..
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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