Yet another dull, wet and overcast day with more snow on the hills but just rain down at sea level. Once again it cleared up a bit in the afternoon so I popped along to Dornie to Eilean Donan Castle, to take advantage of the empty car park and absent crowds. I had hoped for more dramatic light but the weather looked like it was closing in again so I didn't hang around too long and didn't really get much in the way of any really decent shots. The image above is my favourite of the day, shot with a 1 stop ND grad filter to balance the exposure of the sky and the foreground. The following two shots are similar but from different angles and/or zoomed in a bit closer on the castle.
After the arrival of my new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera for Christmas I have been waiting for a break in the wet and windy weather for a chance to get out and play. Eventually, this afternoon, the skies cleared and I took the brief opportunity to try and capture some images of the nearby hills in snow. The light was fading fast, so time was short but I got this first shot from the beach at port Ban, near Duirinish, looking north towards the Applecross hills and the Bealach na Ba. The sky was actually really blue with pinkish tints to the clouds and the contrast of relatively bright sky and darker foreground meant I had to use a 2 stop graduated ND filter. I processed the image in Lightroom but opted for a desaturated conversion to try and emphasise the textures in the hills. The result is pretty dramatic.
I took a few more shots from the same location and then quickly popped over to Plockton to try and capture the very last light of the blue hour, probably a bit late. These are the results.
The last three shots are the original colour version, the black & white conversion and the selectively colourised version respectively.
Today was my first day off work for the festive holidays and the weather forecast was really good, so I decided to visit somewhere I had never been before on the Isle of Skye, despite having lived only a few miles from there for over a year back in the early 1990s, yes the Fairy Pools. To be honest I was very much put off visiting this iconic tourist site on Skye because of the numbers of tourists that flock there in the summer, and indeed throughout the year. However, with Covid lockdown restrictions I guessed it would be quiet and I was pretty much correct. I had the pools to myself when I was shooting these images and apart from the erosion caused by over 200,000 annual visitors, and the motorway of a path from the car park, you would not have known it was a popular visitor attraction.
The above shot was taken at wide-angle using my Zomei circular polarising filter to try and cut through the surface of the water to see the stones below, which kind of worked a bit. The coire was pretty dark, sitting in the shade as it does at this time of year, but this helped with acheiving the slow shutterspeed I wanted to get the sense of motion in the waterfall. The bleak colours in the landscape and the slow moving clouds on the Cuillin hills behind create a lovely atmospheric shot.
For the following shot I used a little more zoom to focus in more on the conical peak of Sgurr an Fheadain and the main part of the falls. I actually prefer this composition and I really like the pale winter colours and textures.
On my way home the late afternoon sun was setting off to the west, producing amazing light in the gaps between the clouds. As I approached Sligachan I got wonderful views of Marsco and Glen Sligachan with the light and clouds making a beautiful scene.
All in all, a good day. In future I would leave a bit earlier to give myself a little more time to try more shooting angles and locations before it gets too dark, and it would be really nice to visit when there was a bit more snow on the hills and a little less cloud. Having said that, I guess I was lucky to get to visit when it was so quiet. Added to that I also had sight of two dolphins and an otter in Loch Alsh from the bathroom window this morning, followed by a white-tailed eagle and a peregrine falcon on my way to Glen Brittle, so a good day indeed. Not a bad way to start the holiday.
Today we had our first real snow of winter, with snow falling almost to sea level, albeit in small quantities. The morning was overcast but it cleared away to a lovely afternoon with occasional sunny spells. I took the opportunity, late in the afternoon, to capture this shot, just a few hundred metres from the house. My regular readers will recognise this old stunted pine tree by the shores of Loch Alsh, with a snowy Beinn na Caillach in the background. The warm glow coming from the right was the sun setting off to the west, as early as 3pm!
For this photo I post-processed as usual in Adobe Lightroom CC Classic and then exported it to Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro2 to convert to black & white. I then applied selective colourisation and other adjustments, resulting in this image with darker de-saturated tones which is a style I have come to like a lot recently. I then reduced the clarity back in Lightroom to produce a softer effect which I felt worked well with this composition. For comparison the original Lightroom processed image is shown below (left) with the un-softened de-saturated version (below right)
The second image (below) was shot from the same point (more-or-less) looking east across Loch Alsh towards the hills of Kintail with the same pine tree much more prominent in the foreground this time. The raw image was treated in much the same way as the above one.
Another flying visit to the north end of Skye today yielded this fantastic shot looking south down the Sound of Raasay. The light shing on the water through a break in the clouds, along with the localised curtains of rain, made for a compelling composition. I did not have my usual full frame dslr and lenses with me so had to resort to my cropped sensor 205D with the only lens I had, a wide-angle zoom lens (10-20mm - equivanelt to 16-32mm on the full frame). This shot was fully zoomed in to try and capture the main area of interest as well as possible but I still had little choice but to crop it further in post-processing to remove the wider landscape which detracted from the sense of drama produced by the combination of sunlight and showers. Balancing the exposure with the incredibly bright sunlight on the water and the darker land was a challenge but I think it worked out quite well.
This weekend I took a few minutes outside with my youngest daughter, Ciara, to try out a bit of fill flash practice. This is something I have always struggled to master in the past. Basically, when shooting portraits outdoors, for example, it is often difficult to balance the exposure on the subject’s face with what can sometimes be a much brighter background or sky. If you expose for the background the subject in the foreground can be quite dark. On the other hand, if you expose for the face the background can be blown out or at least horribly over-exposed. Thus, fill flash does exactly what it says on the tin, it provides some extra fill lighting to the foreground, allowing you to expose correctly for the background. You simply measure the correct exposure for the background, as if you were taking a landscape shot perhaps. You then focus on the subject’s face and use the flash to brighten the foreground. The key is getting the correct balance of flash to provide a natural looking light. Too much and the background looks dark compared to the foreground, and vice versa. These photos worked reasonably well, but it took a bit of experimenting and a good few poor results. Ciara was not really posing for the camera, just acting as a subject so I could realistically balance the exposure, but these two work OK I think.
The other trick is getting the colour balance right. These both turned out a bit warmer than I expected, although the sunlight was quite low and a bit warm so not far out from reality. However, as always, I just had to try them in monochrome, first straight black & white, then sepia and in the case of the profile shot a mock Holga film style which I really like (see below). A bit more practice required with more interesting compositions and we'll see what that leads to - more to follow he said cryptically....
I am just about to place the order for my Iain Turnbull Photography 2021 Calendar. There will be a very limited print run of only 50 copies in the same format as the last couple of years (A4 spiral bound), see the example images below. They come in a cellophane wrap and will make a perfect Christmas gift at £10 each (plus £2.00 postage & packing in the UK - for overseas orders please specify your address in your contact email when you place your order and I'll get back to you with a price for delivery before confirming your order). Copies can be pre-ordered by emailing me at email@example.com but hurry as stocks may run out fast.
Today was a beautiful soft autumn day with almost no wind, wonderfully mild and plenty of sunshine. After spending most of the day indoors doing stuff around the house I got out towards the end of the day with my daughter Eilish and Broc (the dog) for a walk to the beach at Balmacara Bay.
I took my back-up crop sensor dslr camera because it is small and not too heavy, and to be honest I did not expect anything worth photographing. Which just goes to show that you should always be prepared. It turned out we had a lovely sunset over Beinn na Caillich on Skye. These are my two favourite shots, the first is ultra-wide at 10mm (equivalent to 16mm on a full frame dslr) and captures the clouds really nicely. The second is zoomed a little closer in at 14mm (equivalent to 22.4mm on a full frame dslr) and captures the brighter colourful areas a bit better. The rock in the foreground also adds perspective to the scene.
It was a genuinely lovely and peaceful end to the day, or day-light at least.
Today marked the first properly beautiful day in a month and I had no commitments, so I just had to get out with my camera. The light was pretty bright so I opted mainly for IR photography, especially as my normal DSLR batteries were almost completely flat (not having been used for ages and I had forgotten to charge them!). This first image is probably my favourite from a day of disappointing results generally. This is a steep learning curve, using IR filters with focussing problems and my ultra-wide angle lens produced a hideous halo effect on most of my images when shot at its widest zoom. I think it was caused by flare from the low sun, which appears to be exacerbated by the IR filter, because the ones taken without the filter appear OK. The next image was taken from slightly further down the burn wide a wider perspective but a little less wide-angle on the lens.
I stopped at Cill Chriosd on my way to Torrin but unfortunately my shots of the churchyard came out really badly, with the sun being at the worst angle. I did manage the following normal spectrum shot of the loch looking towards Bla Bheinn which shows what a beautiful day it was.
I ended the day at Elgol and shot a few images of the Cuillins from the rocks at Elgol Beach. None really worked for me with this being the best of them.
I took a few moments this morning to take a few more Infra Red (IR) images at Balmacara Square. There was a bit of broken sunshine and still a little foliage on some of the trees, providing a compelling setting with the mill pond and old buildings.
With IR imagery the foliage turns bright white, including grass, leaves, etc., and the blue sky turns dark with contrasting white clouds, providing an almost winter frost/snow effect which can be really interesting. The focus is very difficult to get right as IR light focuses differently from visible light, and along with the generally longer exposures required when using a 720 IR filter (effectively 10 stops), this tends to produce a softness and slightly noisey image.
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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