This eveniing's walk yielded some lovely flowers and amazing light in the trees at Lochalsh Woodland Park. The above shot is of some beautiful umbellifers in the deep shade of a conifer stand. The minute I saw this scene I new it would look good in black & white with a beautiful range of tonality. The colour version is lovely, but the overall green hue tends to detract from the whites of the flower heads.
The next shot is of the fantastic buttercup meadow where the grass has yet to be cut, one of the benefits of the pandemic. Buttercups are often overlooked as flowers but they bring a wonderful golden colour to the grassy areas when left to flower.
The next shot was an attempt to capture the glorious light shining through the trees. I often find this challenging to photograph as the scene is very contrasty, between the brightest areas, usually the sky, and the darkest shadowy parts and the tree stems. This one worked pretty well I think. I reduced the clarity a little in Lightroom to soften the glow a little, more in keeping with the atmosphere at the time.
The last shot is of a Northern Marsh Orchid. I had literally just finished saying "I am surprised there are no orchids here" when I spotted this specimen. This is one of around 11 or 12 species of orchid found on the Balmacara Estate.
Another beautiful sunny day here today and I popped out to try some shots with my 70-200mm lens on my cropped sensor camera. This provides a 1.6x additional zoom as the lens is designed for a full frame camera, thus 200mm equates to 320mm when used with this camera.
This first image, in the Sunken garden at Lochalsh Woodland Walks, was taken to try and capture the broader perspective while at the same time retainng shallow depth of field. It worked reasonably well, but the contrast between the flowers and the background was not as great as I had hoped, so I applied a bit of desaturation to the whole image while retaining a bit more colour and clarity in the flowers and foreground stems.
The following image is of the same clump of dandelions but from closer-in capturing greater detail. In this case, I feel the flowers stand out much better. The central flowers are pretty sharp, despite being blown around in the breeze a bit, so I dropped the clarity on the image producing a nice soft feel.
I had a wonderful walk round the Duirinish-Drumbuie-Port an Eorna loop this afternoon and took all my DSLR kit. In the end I only used the one lens, my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, which is possibly my favourite lens, apart from being a pretty heavy combination with the 5D Mark II. As a result most of my shots ended up being of wild flowers. I might have been wiser to have swapped the lens for my Sigma 105mm macro but was just enjoying the walk and not particularly focused on my photography.
The above shot was taken in Port an Eorna (Barleyport). I really like these wild roses and they make wonderful photgraphic subjects. The rest were taken along the route and represent only a few of the wild flowers in these fantastic croft grasslands. In another few weeks the meadows should be in full bloom, so another trip will be required then.
This final image is of an abandoned croft house in Port an Eorna. I have taken quite a few shots of this old house, and today the light was quite good, although the gable was a little in the shade. The result was quite a contrasty image and I opted to de-saturate some of the intense colours and leave the building almost monochrome, making the whole seem a little more gloomy and atmospheric.
I popped out for a slightly wet walk through the local woods with the dog this morning and took along my DSLR camera fitted with my Sigma macro lens for a change. I don't do enough close-up and macro photography and it is something I always enjoy, but have usually acheived very mixed results. For these five photographs I opted for some post-processing in Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro 2 to produce a selectively desaturated effect. The basic images were fine but lacked punch and a sense of the dull, overcast atmosphere. The first is of an oak leaf with raindrop remnants, illustrating perfectly the wet conditions these trees have to endure in the west Highlands of Scotland. The other shots were all treated in the same manner and I like them as a small collection.
For the past two years I have been studying towards an HNC in Photography with the West Highland College - UHI under the tutelage of the fantatsic Simon Larson. I handed in my final assignment for the Graded Unit this afternoon and so have finished the course. Unfortunately, like so many things this year, our course fell foul of the Coronavirus pandemic and most notably in my case this had a huge impact of my ability to undertake the Graded Unit project. For this I had planned to undertake a photgraphic study of the Celtic Rainforest of Wester Ross during March to May. I did manage to get out for a few sessions prior to lockdown starting and I completed the process for the course as far as was possible. As part of my project plan I said I would produce a photobook of my shortlisted images, so I decided to make up a mock version in pdf format and it can be dowloaded free of charge here (file is 18.1MB).
For the course I was required to produce at least ten final images for assessment so by way of a small taster I have included them below.
Please feel free to submit feedback on the images above and the photobook. Also, if you have any queries please get in touch via my contact page. I hope you enjoy the photographs.
I took this photgraph of the little stand of globeflower plants at Drumbuie this afternoon when I was out checking one of the estate footpaths. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a light breeze to keep the midges away. The views to Skye and the Applecross hills were fantastic, especially as I have not been out and about much in recent weeks. It was challenging to balance the exposure with the birght sky to the west as I did not have my full kit with me, so no ND grad filters. I'll be honest, I did apply a bit of a grad filter in Lightroom, just to recapture some of the detail in the sky.
This shot was taken from the Port an Eorna to Drumbuie shore path, looking towards Drumbuie. As a composition it is not a particularly great shot but I liked the view and the range of textures and shapes in the landscape, and the bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds set it off nicely.
The following shot was taken from the same path, near Port an Eorna. I was taken by the bluebells, and tried to capture a view of them in the foreground with something of the hills of Skye in the background. Again the light was challenging but I think I managed to get it just about right.
The last shot was taken near Duirinish Station. This old gnarled tree has often taken my fancy for a photograph but I almost always walk this path in a clockwise direction. Today I was going the other way, and so the view of this tree was not the usual one. It just goes to show that you should take time to move around your subject and consider different angles. For this one I initially envisaged in in full colour (image 1 below), but then felt that it might look really nice in black & white, emphasising the textures in the bark (image 2 below). That didn't quite work as well as I had hoped, with the bright background kind of making the tree less obvious than I expected. So, I tried something I did for a few photos during my study of the Celtic Rainforest in Wester Ross for my HNC course recently (more on that coming up on my blog soon). That was using Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro II to convert the image to monochrome but selectively colouring some areas of the background, leaving the main subject in monochrome. I think this really makes the tree pop out and focuses the viewer's eye on the textures and tones of the tree. Not necessarily to everyone's taste but something a little different.
I went for an early morning walk aroun d the coats at Drumbuie today and saw 32 species of bird in total. Had great views of a small group of twite feeding on weed seeds where cattle have been feeding over the winter. These two shots were the best I could manage with my small Panasonic bridge camera. It is actually a really good little camera with a zoom equivalent of 600mm on a full frame dslr which is what these were taken at, and f/2.8 across the entire zoom range, so you can get decent shutterspeeds. Focusing is the hardest part with these small birds which are also camouflaged exceptionally well and move around a lot.
A beautiful day capped off with some fantastic views of bullfinches feeding on the cherry blossom in our garden. This was the first time I have had the chance to try out my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for shooting birds, and while the targets were a bit far away, the sheer quality of this lens means it is possible to zoom in and crop the image and still get a half decent image. Below is what the full size image looked like.
I am currently studying with the West Highland College - UHI towards an HNC in Photography. For our Graded Unit we have to undertake a small project on a theme of our choosing, and produce ten final images. I have chosen to do a study of the "Celtic Rainforest in Wester Ross". In fact I am planning to expand the project for the whole of the year to allow me more time to cover the wide range of native woodlands in the Wester Ross Biosphere area. The HNC project has to be completed by May, thus missing so many of the seasonal differences in the woods.
So today, on my way to a meeting in Torridon, I set off early to try and do a bit of reconnaissance of one of the nicest native pinewoods in the area, at Beinn Shieldaig. The weather was not great and I had very little time between first light and my meeting, so I was a bit rushed. I spotted a nice old pine, standing out from those around it and decided to take a pop at it.
As part of my research for the project I have been looking at some inspirational photogrpahers and one of my favourites in Michael Kenna. He is known for his atmospheric black & white images of trees. He still shoots in film, mainly using a Hasselblad camera, but occasionally using a simple Holga medium format toy camera. I have decided to try and use some film for my project but will also be shooting in digital. Today I took my digital kit, but also my Holga 120N with old, out-of-date, Kodak Tri-X Pan film (380 ISO!). The results of that will have to wait until the film is finished and processed, but this post contains a couple of the digital images from the trip which I have processed into black & white in Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro II. I have selected the Kodak Tri-X 100 ASA film option in an attempt to replicate the old style of the film. I like the effect and can only hope that the film versions come out as well.
On the way to Shieldaig I stopped just above Tornapress to take this shot looking towards A' Chioch, Beinn Bhan and A' Phiot in the snow. It was a very dull morning, with limited light, but quite atmospheric.
These are some shots from my first foray out with the camera in 2020, on the 3rd January. I had only a short while available to me so I headed over to the Lochalsh Woodland Park, just over 1/2 mile from the house.
I am about to undertake a photographic study of the native woodlands of Wester Ross (more in a later post) so wanted to practice some techniques of shooting in woodlands. I have been doing a bit of research online and it seems that using larger lenses and shallow depth of field can produce nice soft atmospheric shots. This first shot was taken with my new-ish 70-200m f2.8 lens with a long exposure (due to the low light level) on a tripod. I have done very little to this image other than slightly increase the clarity of the bark on the main tree and some minor adjustments to the lights and darks. I love the shape of the tree trunk and the trees behind break up the background really nicely.
I took a few shots in this area and then went over the road to the park and shot some more of the pathways and one or two close-ups of bits of trees and lichens, etc, all taken with the same 70-200mm lens..
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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