I took advantage of a quick trip to Lochcarron this afternoon to take a walk up the south side of Strathcarron to the old dwellings at Arineckaig. This was my first time up as far as this, although I have seen these old buildings many times from the Balnacra road and promised myself I would visit one day. The light was at times excellent today, and at times flat and overcast with rain showers threatening throughout my walk. When the sun did peep through the gaps in the clouds the effect was wonderful, highlighting the early autumn colours in the landscape. The above view was taken on my way back to the car and I just managed to catch the sun on the trees around Arineckaig Lodge, showing off the varied shapes and forms of the different tree species really nicely. The looming clouds provided a lovely dramatic backdrop, contrasting marvellously with the illuminated foreground.
I love trees, especially as a photographic subject. Whether it is close-up shots of the bark or leaves, twigs and the like, or wider shots of specimen trees, or just woodland habitat, they never fail to provide variety and lots of opportunities, especially at this time of year. Today was one of those days when the light was behaving well, sometimes, and the following are a few shots of trees from my walk.
The above shot was taken looking north-east up Strathcarron from the deserted settlement of Arineckaig. There are the remains of several old dwellings that at some point in time have been abandoned, or possibly cleared - I do not now the local history. There is good land here whihc despite being poisoned by sheep grazing and neglect appears to be fighting the onslaught of rushes, in parts at least. This is yet another location among the many across the Highlands and Islands where people used to live in greater numbers than they do today. Yet there is demand for croft land and affordable housing, and still we continue to see over-grazing by sheep and deer and decent land being neglected when it could provide for more families. One wonders what it will take for our society to see the potential benefits of taking a different view of what our future can look like, where people work in harmony with nature to provide a sustainable future for both. That is certainly not what I was seeing today and the echoes of the community that lived here once upon a time were loud in my ears as I took the following image of another empty house.
I had an early start yesterday for a work trip to Inverewe and Gairloch so I decided to head out even earlier to try and catch some shots in Torridon at first light. As it happened the morning was not ideal, and if anything I was a bit earlier than was ideal, but with a scheduled meeting I had no time to hang around for better light. That being said, it was a wonderful calm dawn with great reflections of Beinn Alligin on Loch Torridon and Liathach & Beinn Eighe on Loch Clair. The shadow areas were pretty dark against a brightening sky, so for the above panorama I opted to try something I have not done before, and do an HDR panorama using that processing function in Lightroom. The result is pretty decent although it took ages for my computer to do the processing.
The next shot was taken by the shore of Loch Torridon, looking towards Beinn Alligin which was partially shrouded in patchy cloud/morning mist, creating a beautiful effect. Again the shadow areas were dark but I managed to lighten them in Lightroom by bringing up the exposure and the shadows a bit and then applying a digital ND grad filter to the sky and the sea. Again it worked quite well, although as it was early and the light level was pretty low I had to use a fairly high ISO so the image is a bit noisy - the same goes for most of these images.
Taken from the same spot, but looking to the right of the previous one I got the following image of the village of Fasag with the steep slopes of Liathach looming above. The beginnings of the the autumn colours reflected in the loch and the varied textures of the mountain make this an interesting shot I think.
At Loch Clair I took various shots of Liathach, over and above the top image at the start of this post with this one being my favourite. This was made using a single exposure as opposed to HDR and with the wonders of RAW images and post-processing I was able to recover some of the detail in the shadow areas and produce a colourful and compelling image I think. I tend to find the HDR option works in extreme cases (see below) but can produce weird abstractions around the edges of mountains and tree branches, so it is usually a last resort or a bit of an experiment. With modern camera sensors the dynamic range is much improved and they deal far better with extremes of exposure.
My penultimate image of the day is a classic view looking eastwards up Loch Maree from the Poolewe road. This was taken looking into the rising sun with the clouds on Beinn Airigh Charr adding drama to the scene. This is a view that is always different, sometime spectacular and sometime invisible in the cloud, but this morning it was wonderful. These conditions were extremely challenging for my camera so I did opt for the HDR approach. I used a small aperture to create the star effect with the sun. This time the HDR method worked pretty well, though I shoud have remembered to reduce the ISO as it is a bit noisy in what were the darker areas and I had plenty of shutter speed latitude - one lives and learns.
The final image was taken at the beach on the the Inverasdale road at Camas na Muic. This shot was taken looking back up the burn that runs out onto the beach, straight into the sun which was back-lighting the spectacular mackeral sky. I would have experimented a bit more with composition on this but unfortunately my EF 24-70mm lens stopped working - this being the bad bit of the mixed fortunes of the day!! It turns out it is the flex cable that controls the aperture iris that has failed, a common problem with zoom lenses apparently, and expensive to fix. That being said this is probably my best, and certainly my most expensive lens, so it will get repaired and hopefully I'll have it back soon. The photo is still pretty good, despite my angst at what occured when shooting it.
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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