What a beautiful frosty day with bright sunshine all day. After a busy morning, I headed out this afternoon to Broadford to buy fuel for the car and decided to pop down the Elgol road as far as Torrin - no surprise, as this is one of my most favourite photography locations. There was amazing frost and ice on Loch Cill Chriosd and I got some nice macro shots of frost on the vegetation, as well as some familiar compositons. It is always different though, so no shame in revisiting a favourite spot with the camera. Here are some of my favourite shots form the trip.
Hi All, it is that time of year again, my Winter Exhibition and Christmas Sale is fast approaching. This year I will be at the Steadings Gallery at Balmacara Square again from 24th to 26th November, open 10am to 7pm on Friday 24th and 10am to 5pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th.
My 2024 calendar will be available, at £12 each it is a real bargain, with a slight twist this year - bigger images! There are only 75 being printed so first come first served. They can be ordered in advance by commenting on this post, messaging me or emailing me at email@example.com
In addition to my calendars, there will be a few new images, taken since my summer exhibition, plus all my older stock will be available at vastly reduced prices - as they say "Everything Must Go!" - frankly I need the space in the house. So come along and grab yourself a real bargain for Christmas, and maybe there will be a mince pie and a cuppa available too.
After a long break away from doing any specific photography trips I have been inspired over the last few weeks to get out and try and capture some of the wonderful autumnal colours. This is truly the most spectacular time of year for colour in our magical landscape and I think some of the following images are among my favourite shots in recent times.
The above image was taken yesterday on a wonderful trip to Glen Affirc, always a popular destination at this time of year, for obvious reasons. More from that trip at the end of this article, including one of my all-time favourite shots.
The first recent outing was on 15th October for a walk through the Coille Mhor Atlantic Oakwood, part of Scotland's globally important temperate rainforest. I have selected a couple of shots that I feel really capture the sense of the character of the woodland, as well as the magnificent golden rays from the low sunlight.
A week or so later I had the urge to get out of the office and took myself across the bridge to Skye and down the road to Loch Cill Chriosd. It was late in the afternoon and the light was failing, with limited contrast, but I caught these two shots.
The following day I was driving through Reraig and noticed that the light to the west, on the Skye Bridge and the Cuillins was looking magnificent, so I pulled into the car park and shot the following panorama, made from a composite of nine portrait oriented shots, merged in Adobe Lightroom Classic. It is a pretty broad panorama but I think it worked well and captured the scene nicely.
Last Saturday (28th October) I needed to pop over to Lochcarron, so I decded that afterwards I would conntinue northwards with my camera kit and try and get some autumnal shots. Unsurprisingly, I ended up going over the Bealach an Ba to Applecross and then onwards to Shieldaig before heading home again. This is a route I have travelled many times with my camera, and it can be a bit challenging to find new locations and compositions for photos. That being said it is always different and I got a few decent shots and had a lovely day out.
And, finally, back to yesterday's trip to Glen Affric. The light varied a fair bit throughout the day, with periods of bright sunshine, some overcast times and occasional moments where partial light offered some interesting opportunities for mixed, contrasty landscape shots. On arrival at the lower reaches of the glen it was still quite misty, and I captured the image below which is definitely my favourite from the day.
I love the pendulous foliage of the silver birch, it is well named Betula pendula. I took far too many shots of similar compostions with golden birch trees illuminated by marvellous light. The next few shots are essentially variations on a theme - birch trees in golden light.
The last two shots are also among my favourites. The first is a reminder to always look up, not just straight ahead. The wonderful contrasting colours of the bright blue skye as a backdrop for the golden foliage and dark stems makes a compelling image, I think. The last shot was taken while I was waiting for the light to improve for the shot looking up Gen Affric that was at the head of this article. I looked to my left and the light on the pinewoods was amazing, highlighting the depth and layers in the scene really beautfully. All-in-all, a really good day out and some lovelly images too.
I must apologise to regular readers of my posts for the singular lack of any content over recent months. It has been almost five months since I last put anything significant up on my website. Why you may ask? It is quite simple really, I have been incredibly busy with other work and to be honest the weather has not been particularly kind to me when I was available to get out and about with the camera. However, being totally honest, I have definitely lost my mojo and it has only been in the last week or so that I have felt like getting back to it again.
So, this does not mean that I have not done any photography, and in fact I have been busy doing a bit of experimental shooting with infra-red, and a bit more bird photography as well. Therefore, by way of a little catch-up, I have drawn together below some of my better shots from the last few months and I hope you enjoy them.
This juvenile cuckoo was being very obliging today when I visited the crofts at Duirinish. It just sat on the fence waiting to be fed by its adopted parents, a pair of meadow pipits. I managed to get quite close and got a good number of decent shots with the one above being probably the best, along with the following one.
I took a couple of other bird photos, the first a young dunnock (hedge sparrow) and then what I think is a skylark, but I have my doubts about it possibly being a meadow pipit - feel free to post your opinion in the comments.
As always at this time of year, the meadows were looking really impressive, with a great diversity of flowering plants. Some small areas had been cut for silage already, but the damp weather has prevented most of it being cut as yet. While this is not particularly good for the crofters, it does mean more wild flower seed will be set and spread into the meadows, enhancing their already considerable conservation value.
The next shot was taken at the weekend, at Drynoch on Skye, in the bay below the cemetery. There are a number of old boats tied up at the shore and I thought they might offer up a compelling composition or two. As it was this was really the only good shot I managed to capture, but it works well with the Cuillin ridge in the background.
On Friday last week I took my wife for a drive up Strathconon with the hope of getting some interesting photo opportunities. As it happened the best chance came with a large herd of red deer stags with antlers in full velvet. I suspect these deer are being fed as they were very closely herded together which is quite unusual from my experience. None-the-less, they presented an exciting opportunity to capture these magnificent animals from a decent distance. This shot only includes about a third of the total number present.
The next, and last colour shot, was taken at Loch Achidh na h-Inich one afternoon when the light made the woodland of the Coille Mhor shine brightly green and the lack of wind provided lovely reflections on the water. So many shades of green!
The remaining shots are a collection of slightly older shots captured at various locations over the past few months.
My 2023 Steadings gallery Exhibition is fast approaching, opening this Saturday, 20th May, until 2nd June. The exhibition will be open 11am to 5pm daily and admission is, as always, free of charge. I am busy getting all my images printed, mounted and framed, ready for putting up tomorrow evening. This year I have gone 'Back in Black & White', although there are some colour images as well. There is a mix of B&W infrared and straight B&W photos from around the Highlands & Islands. Most are new but some have been seen before, with updated processing.
Anyway, I thought I would provide readers with a sneak peek at a few of my favourite images. The first (above) is a classic view of the magnificent Suilven from the Inverkirkaig road. This amazing coastal road (not part of the NC500 thankfully) is one of my most special and favourite places, one that I must visit every time I am in the area. On this occasion, fairly recently, I was a complete tourist and stopped in the road to take this image with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 infrared camera. I think it catrues the wonderful textures on the mountain and contrasts the background beautifully against the bright new spring foliage on the trees, and the road disappears mysterously round the bend - what is there further down the road?.
This is another infrared image, shot at Strath Brora last summer. The contrasting white fluffy clouds against the dark sky (bright blue in reality) set off the sharply textured, dead pine tree with its amazing tortured pattern of branches. Once again the green foliage on the birch trees and ground flora of the foreground, rendered bright white in the infrared format, make this look almost like a winter scene.
Finally, the thrid image in this preview is an older one which I have exhibited previously in colour. The wonderful cascade falls on the Allt Dhuirinis are a wonderful example of the type of watercourse found in our magical temperate rainforest. Yes I am being serious, these wet mild woodlands found on the west coast of Scotland are internationally important areas of temperate rainforest - a much more scarce cousin of the better known tropical variety. These wonderful ecosystems are typified by the presence of various broadleaved tree species and a beautiful assemblage of lichens, bryophytes, ferns and mosses, all sustained by our wet and mild climate producing amazingly humid conditions in which they thrive.
The last two nights have provided residents of the north of Scotland with the most amazing Auroras. I missed those on Sunday but spent a couple of hours at the Plock Viewpoint in Kyle of Lochalsh last night and my patience was rewarded with the best aurora display I have ever seen. The above shot is probably my favourite but, as you will see from the collection below, I had a fair few to choose from.
A little earlier in the evening I had the time to try out a few shots of the night sky, as the pale glow from the receding sun disappeared in the west. The shot below was an attempt to capture the faint Milky Way, but the moon was too bright and it was too early in the night. I still like the picture though.
A lovely drive to Gairloch this afternoon didn't yield a great deal in terms of quality images, but there were some interesting colours in the sky on the way home. Patches of blue cloud, interspersed with golden illuminated patches and deep shadow made for some inviting opportunities. Most would not have made convincing compostions, however, and I left the camera in the bag for most of the drive, apart from this shot taken from the road-side by Loch Maree, looking towards Slioch. As I stopped, there was a lovely patch of light on the summit of the mountain, along with the sliver on the lower slopes, but by the time I stopped the car and got my camera, it had passed its best. Still, with the colourful sky, I went ahead and captured a few shots, this being the best in my opinion. Slioch is a very dramatic mountain, rising some 981m above sea-level, which is 3,218 feet in old money, and the loch is actually only c. 10-15m above sea level itself, so at over 950m in less than 2 km from the loch-side it is a steep climb.
I recently joined the Royal Photographic Sciety (RPS) and applied for their Licentiate distinction, based on my HNC qualification and my photography portfolio. Today I received the wonderful news that my application had been approved so I now have another few letters after my name, i.e. LRPS. When you see the quality of the many LRPS members' imagery this distinction means a great deal indeed. I hope to work towards their Associate distinction which requires a well-thought out and delivered photographic project. I have some ideas for this and will be working on it over the next year or two.
Saturday arrived with no real commitments so I decided, despite it being a bit overcast, with rain threatening, to try out a walking route that I have been interested in for ages - from Coulags to Coire Fionnaraich. This route branches out in various directions as you move up the coire but I set my target as the loch. The other routes would have required meeting someone at the other end which was not an option for me. The walk was 6.5 miles in total climbing about 225m, so not overly strenuous but long enough to make my feet a bit sore by the end - wrong socks! I had the pleasure of the company of my collie - Broc - who at 13 years of age made the trip with no such signs of physical stress.
The above shot was taken from the path at the point where the bothy, operated by the Mountain Bothies Association, first comes into view. Set against the dramatic hillsides of the coire I used my zoom telephoto lens to foreshorten the view and emphasise the steepness of the hills in the background. The old stalking bothy has been built out of local stone and blends into the landscape completely, only the slate roof making it visible from a distance. The shot below shows the bothy in its wider context.
The rest of the images were taken closer to the bothy, which is a really attractive building, in an amazingly remote and isolated spot.
And finally shot on the phone, my faithful companion for the day - Broc by the loch - she never quite looks at you when you are taking a photo.
These two images are the result of a quick visit to Loch Achaidh na h-Inich on my way home from the shop this afternoon. I usually maintain a list of all the bird species I have seen each year, starting afresh in January, so I wanted to add Goldeneye to my list as they don't breed here but are regular winter visitors to the loch. On my way along the shore road I spotted this little dipper diving in the water at the edge of the loch. I managed to stop, wind down the window and get the camera from the back seat without it flying off. I grabbed a few shots before another car came along and disturbed things, this being the best shot. I love these little birds with their constant dipping motion that gives them their name.
I drove along to the end of the track and turned to head back and captured the following shot of a male Goldeneye on the loch. It was a bit of a distance away, but with the long lens I managed to get a decent, and resonably sharp image, probably my best Goldeneye shot yet.
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.
If you like my photos and are interested in purchasing prints, whether framed, mounted or otherwise please click here.