In keeping with my recent interest in infra-red photography, I took advantage of some good weather when visiting the Golspie and north-east Highlands recently with my wife. This is part of the country that I do not know very well at all, so we spent a good amount of time just exploring in the car, with frequent stops for photographs, coffee and the occasional cake. This is a small collection of my favourite IR images from the trip. There will be more colour and/or standard black & white images to follow soon when I get time to process them.
The first image, my favourite, is of a wonderful twisted old dead tree by the Strath Brora road. The contrasty light, with the mixed woodland made this old specimen really stand out. I knew immediately that it would make a good compostion, and when I pressed the shutter release, and looked at the screen on the camera, I knew it would turn out well.
The next three images are all varying zooms of another tree, in this case an isolated old sycamore. This one was standing proudly in the centre of a field, against the skyline, with no other trees in the vicinity. One really wonders how it got there, and how it is the sole survivor. Not a native species to Scotland, this must have been planted a long time ago given the lack of any others in the area. I tired different compositions and focal lengths to see what worked best. I think I like the first one best, but they all have their appeal.
We were staying is a cottage in Golspie and I found the next scene on an evening walk just along the road a little. There is a ford across the Big Burn and adjacent to it is an old complex of lodge buildings for Dunrobin Castle, known as Tower Lodge. The combination of the water cascading over the weir at the ford, the trees, and the old buildings, made for a beautiful compostion. A clear blue sky would have enhanced the contrast with the trees, but that was not to be so late in the evening. The buildings were actually in very poor condition, which is a crying shame considering how attractive they look.
The last couple of images are from Forsinard, where the RSPB have a nature reserve in part of the Flow Country. My wife had never been to Bettyhill, so we headed up to Lairg, then onwards via Altnaharra and down Strathnaver to Bettyhill. Forsinard is in the neighbouring valley, Stath Halladale and the Strath of Kildonan, which we took in on our way home. The flows are truly impressive, if a bit desolate, to put it mildly. These peatlands are internationally important in terms of carbon reserves and ecologically, and a bid is being pulled together for the whole area to be designated a World Heritage Area by UNESCO. The Forsinard viewpoint tower is a strangely modern structure in this vast open landscape, but it works well, and certainly made for an excellent focal point for this image. I took several shots from different vantage points but most suffered from hideous sun flares and were not really useable. That is what comes from not having a lens hood for that lens. The train station is still in use and also houses the modest RSPB information centre.
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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