It is the Firest of December and as is our usual tradition the window lights and Yuletide wreath go up to start the seasonal festivities. I had hoped for a clear starry night to try and get a really long exposure of the lights with the stars shining above the house but no such luck tonight. This was a delicate balance between having a long enough exposure to capture the lights with a little bit of fill-flash to get some of the detail of the house as well, but not too bright either. I think this worked reasonably well. Next weekend it will be the turn of the tree - happy days.
I took these shots on my way home from a Wester Ross Biosphere meeting at Achnasheen. The remnants of the hard frost over the past few days can be seen in the first photo with the oblique sunlight showing off the shape and texture of the slope on the far side of the loch. The loch was a perfect mirror with the two Greylag Geese adding a little life to the image. I tried taking this shot with a wider angle but despite trying HDR as well I could not avoid bright sunspots with weird colours from reflections off the lens so I had to zoom in to avoid the bight light from the right.
The shot below was taken looking west and using three auto-bracketed shots (+/- 2 stops) to try and retain some of the foreground detail against the extremely bright sunlight. This one worked pretty well I think but I still needed to tone down the brightness of the whites a bit.
Had a lovely walk from Balmacara up the forest road to the waterfall and then back down through the Coille Mhór oak-birch wood While most of the trees have shed their leaves already the oaks are clinging on to them providing some lovely late autumn colour. The three trees in the above shot are favourites of mine and today the brilliant blue sky provided a fabulous backdrop for their golden leaves. The following shot was taken looking across what we refer to as The Reserve, which is a heavily rush infested wet pasture, looking towards Carn Thollaidh, again with the spectacularly blue sky as a backdrop. The final image is of an old oak situated beside the main access track looking south towards Kylerhea. This one was a little back-lit by the low sun so I did use three auto-bracketed shots which I then combined with the HDR merge tool in Lightroom to maintain the detail that as visible to the naked eye and avoid silhouetting the tree.
Another very cold frosty morning but incredibly beautiful today. This shot was taken on the way to Plockton from the coast road, chosen to avoid the icy high road that I would normally take. There were very few clouds about but as we turned north at Badicaul this sky provided an amazing spectacle which faded quite quickly again.
I also stopped to take some images of the frost covered foliage on some of the trees and the gorse, but I must have been shaking with the cold because they were all a bit blurred. This one of the gorse was about as good as I managed but it too is a bit off. I should have chosen a higher ISO setting or larger aperture to increase the shutter speed but I wanted to try and keep the whole of the head of gorse in focus, hence the small aperture.
I took this yesterday on my way to Edinburgh. The morning light on the opposite shore of Loch Duich was lighting up the late autumn colours while there was some early snow on the tops of the hills providing excellent contrast. I took a single shot but really wanted to capture the wider perspective so stitched three shots together to get this final image.
Woke up to a beautiful crisp cold morning with the sun rising over the Kintail Hills and lighting up the sky. This shot was taken at the old slip at the foot of our drive. I didn't have time for the full ND treatment so just reduced the ISO to its lowest setting selected the smallest aperture I could to produce a reasonably long exposure of 1 second, thus producing the beautiful smooth surface of the sea.
The following image was taken from the hill above Auchtertyre again looking towards the Five Sisters of Kintail. The best of the light had passed by the time I got there but it was still worth taking this shot I think.
I had a little opportunity to pop out to Elgol first thing this morning on my way to a meeting on Skye and while it was initially very dull and showery I was lucky when the clouds parted to provide a few areas of sunshine highlighting parts of the Cuillins and Blabheinn. The above photo was taken form the beach at Elgol with a variable ND filter, not quite at full intensity to provide this lovely smudged effect on the sea but not too long to smooth it out entirely. The light was once again excellent with a mixture of bright areas and shadow. I focused on getting plenty of foreground in the image at the expense of some detail in the mountains but I like the composition on this one.
The following image was taken on the way back because Blabheinn had suddenly come into the light. This was a panorama of three shots merged in Lightroom, but again the clouds and contrasting light and shadow areas make the image.
Just back from a fantastic weekend at Applecross with our friends Helen Robertson and Tich Myers. The weather was a bit variable and certainly very cold yesterday but the light at times was brilliant for photography. The above shot was taken below the bridge over the Allt Coire nan Arr just to the north-east of the Bealach na Ba as we headed over yesterday. When I got out of the car the light was no where near as good as this but the cloud cleared a little and the sun broke through a small shower and the rainbow appeared. I had a few issues with raindrops on the camera lens which rendered most of my shots useless, sadly, especially as I had some nice ones of the river blurred out, but I need t learn to check that. This image also looks quite good in black & white.
From the top of the Bealach and on the way down the other side we got great views across the Inner Sound to Skye, again with fantastic rays of sunshine highlighting the mountains as you can see below.
This morning the weather was very overcast ad wet with poor light and washed out colours. However, before heading home we took a short trip down to Toscaig at the end of the Applecross peninsula. This crofting area offers greats scope for interesting cultural landscape shots for my West Highland Project, so hopefully you will see more in the future. The two photos I have shown below were not very interesting in colour, no vibrant colours and tones today, but the textures of the vegetation and the rocks and tones lent themselves to the black & white format I think.
Fantastic views this morning of the dawn and mist at Achnasheen on my way through to Inverness for First Aid training. I stopped just east of Achansheen and got this wonderful sunrise on Carn an Feith-Rabhain. The combination of the amazing light and the mist shrouding the lower slopes of the mountain made for a fantastic scene. A little further along the road I stopped again and took a few more shots but none better than the first, and then I got this one looking back towards Achnasheen along the River Bran. I like the old fence, or fence posts at least, leading into the frame from the bottom left.
Yet another fantastic November dawn on Loch Alsh. This time I remembered my kit as well as the camera so tried taking the shot with the variable ND filter pretty much on full strength to get a good long exposure to smooth out the water. I think it worked quite well although I ended up cropping the original image which was taken at full wide angle (17mm) because there was too much uninteresting white sky, particularly in the top left of the image.
Below are a few shots taken over the past couple of days, yesterday on the estate and on Sunday with Steve Carter over by Kishorn & Shieldaig. The view of Skye from Achintraid was slightly blown out in the highlights and needed quite a lot of work to tone that down and to be honest I don't think it worked too well, and we were jsut a little late for the best of the light on Loch Torridon.
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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