Category Archives: Scotland

Capturing The Moment

People frequently ask us, “Do we often come up with the same image when out shooting together?” Well I guess the simple answer is yes sometimes, but more often than not it’s the smallest of detail that separates the best image of the set from the also ran, though we do sometimes have to fight for ownership of the best image!

A prime example of this was the Eilean Donan image from a few years ago. We were travelling to Harris and stopped for lunch at the Eilean Donan visitor centre. Looking out of the window, we both spotted the same image in the same instant. As it was tipping down with rain, I ran to the car and came back with one camera, one tripod and an umbrella and we took it in turns to shoot the same scene. As it turned out, this was one of those rare occasions when we both interpreted the scene in exactly the same way, which is unusual for us. Fast forward a week and when it came to processing the image, we hadn’t a clue who took it! In a fit of magnanimity, I said to Janet “You have it” and its a decision I’ve regretted ever since……..

Dreich Morning at Eilean Donan Castle

When shooting at the same location, we usually wander off in different directions and come back with totally different images, however on some occasions we do end up standing side by side and it’s interesting to see how much better one image can be than another taken moments later. A prime example of this is Janet’s Minus Five image. Her landscape version is one of my all-time favourites, whilst my upright version is weak!

700-2-3938-J

800-1-0605-R

Whereas Janet’s Misty Morning at Loch Ard is so, so close to my version, but hers still works much better in my opinion. 700-2-10027 800-1-4677

700-2-10027-J

800-1-4677-R

On the other hand, these two images were shot a minute apart, the first by Janet and the panoramic by me and on this occasion I think mine has captured the better light, though as always its very subjective which people will consider to be the better image.

810-1-1647-J

800-1-9603-R2

Light can change so rapidly a scene can be transformed in a matter of minutes and can produce a set of subtly different images, such as these three images from Loch Ard this October, also shot only minutes apart.

810-1-1620-J

810-1-1613-J

800-1-9582-R

 

So I think you can see, it really doesn’t matter if we do stand side by side, it’s the subtle differences that differentiate a good image from a great one.

 

Cape Wrath

Hearing stories of the car park at Storr on the Isle of Skye being filled with photographer’s cars and queues of people at the Fairy Pools on Skye fills me with horror. Queuing at a location is not my idea of landscape photography, for me it should be a relatively solitary, contemplative occupation, so when Janet and I started to plan this year’s itenery it had to be somewhere quiet and relatively unknown. So Iceland was definitely out, no queuing to shoot icebergs on beaches for us and as much as I love Lofoten and feel I have plenty of locations I want to visit, the thought of joining up to 50 others on Utakliev beach has little appeal.

We wanted somewhere wild and remote and considered Orkney and Shetland and even looked at the Faroes and Fair Isle, but it was a chance viewing of Nick Crane at Cape Wrath on the “Coast” program that really got us thinking. I was very taken with his visit to Sandwood Bay, so we decided to investigate the Cape Wrath area. In the end we found a super little cottage on the edge of Balnakiel bay that would serve as our base for a week.

Balnakeil

The location proved perfect, with miles of quiet beach stretching out before us. We could sit in the window and watch the sun setting in the bay in front of us, perfect! The only drawback was the constant wind that made using the tripod difficult.

The original plan was for me to take the tent and wild camp for a night or two, but for various reasons that didn’t happen, but I still had a fancy for a recce visit to Cape Wrath. This was a mini adventure in itself, requiring a ride on the ferry from Keoldale across the Kyle of Durness to meet the minibus to Cape Wrath itself. The 12 mile route on a very poor road took a full hour but we were entertained by our genial driver Reg from London! Now there’s a commute!

Kyle of Durness

Keoldale

Those that were savvier with the area all piled off the bus with their camping gear at the track to Kearvaig Bay, leaving me feeling very envious. The Cape itself is an interesting location with it’s high cliffs, but Kearvaig is definitely on my list of must visit locations next time we’re up in the far north West.

Cape Wrath

The following day I just had to visit Sandwood Bay, so we drove down to Blairmore and prepared for the trek across the moors to Sandwood. I wasn’t sure just how long the trip to Sandwood would take me, so out came the spare lenses from my camera bag and in went water and sandwiches. The 4 1/2 mile hike proved much easier than expected, with the first two miles being on a reasonable moorland track, then the final stretch being on a rough, but well defined path.

800-1-8338-R

I made good time and reached my first glimpse of the bay in 1 ¼ hours and wow what a view!

800-1-8285-R

Well worth the trek. It took another 15 minutes to walk down the dunes to the beach, but what a place! The roar of the wind and the crashing of the waves gave it amazing atmosphere. I’d definitely messed up not bringing the tent, I think bedding down with that sound track in my ears would have been terrific!

Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay

Sandwood BayFor anyone traveling in the far North West area with a tent, Kearvaig and Sandwood Bays are both definite must do’s and places I really must return to visit one day.

Project St. Kilda

Skye

My pet project to camp and photograph on St. Kilda is proving to be a much harder nut to crack than I imagined. My first attempt in September 2013 resulted in us sitting in a caravan on the Isle of Harris for 4 days waiting for gales and lashing rain to blow out. The weather finally cleared on the Thursday, but all I got was a day trip to the islands on an uncharacteristically bright sunny day, so it was back to the drawing board and time for plan B.

Soon after I got home, I got an email from an old friend saying he had found a boat going out of Uig on the Isle of Skye. This would mean a shorter and cheaper trip overall, so we duly booked for a trip in May 2014. This fitted in nicely for us as Janet and I were already due to be on Mull for a week, meaning I could go direct from Mull to Skye and have a couple of days photographing Skye.

We left Mull on the Saturday in glorious sunshine, but with the promise of worse to come. The weather was due to be wet on Saturday and Sunday (Which it was) and clear on Monday, which it did. I put Janet on a train to home from Oban, then headed north into the rain. I arrived on Skye mid-afternoon in heavy rain and cloud so thick I couldn’t see the old Man of Storr from the road as I passed. I pressed on to the Quiraing for a quick look, which is another truly amazing place, then headed for my digs and something to eat.

The alarm went off at 4 am the following morning and I rose to dull, drizzly morning, with a faint promise of the sky clearing on the horizon. Once up at the Quiraing car park, the drizzle had turned into persistent rain and only one other car load of photographers (From the Czech republic) had been daft enough to turn out on such a morning and at least they had the sense to be tucked up in sleeping bags. I waited until 5 am then set off along the track to find the famous Quiraing tree. The wind and rain was lashing down and streams of water were running down the track. Once in position, I used the umbrella to shield the camera from the elements, but it was a right pantomime trying to get an ND grad onto the camera without it getting wet. Once set up, I was able to lift the umbrella briefly and get the shots. With a few shots in the bag, I returned to the guest house for a couple of hours sleep before enjoying a hearty breakfast.

700-2-7871-R

After breakfast, I headed back down the island towards Storr and what an amazing place! As I continued the long climb, the pinnacles finally started to appear through the gloom. I had planned to climb on and get above the pinnacles, but with the rain blowing into my face, I had to descend and hide in the lee of some hills to get some shelter to keep the lens dry. My efforts to work with the umbrella causing much amusement with the climbers!

700-2-7884-R

Once back down I headed in search of lunch, only to run foul of Sunday closing on the island, so I headed over to the ferry terminal at Uig. I met up with a couple of non-photographer friends in Uig that evening and they dropped the bombshell that the weather was changing and a low was blowing in. A quick conversation with Dereck the boatman confirmed that Monday was due to be good, but Tuesday would be poor, with only a 50/50 chance of getting back off St. Kilda on Wednesday and very little chance after that until the following week. This left me with the choice of yet another day trip, or take the chance of being marooned on the island for at least a week! As I had commitments in Yorkshire at the weekend, I reluctantly chose the day trip.

St. Kilda

Monday morning dawned clear, bright and calm as we made the 4 hour trip out to St. Kilda. An hour clear of Harris you can see St. Kilda in the distance, but I doesn’t seem to get much bigger for the next couple hours, then suddenly you are there! The sea got quite choppy as we neared St. Kilda, so any shots of the islands shrouded in mist would have to wait until later. Once on the island the scene was as amazing as ever (This is now my 3rd day trip, so it starting to look quite familiar). As we walked up the main street the whole area was full of the cutest tiny Soay lambs, but as we were only due to be on the island for 3-1/2 hours I’d made the foolish decision to travel light and had taken my 70-200mm lens out of my bag at the last minute. This would have been really useful as the sheep are really wild and quite hard to get close to.

Ancient Soay sheep on the island of St. Kilda

The weather was reasonable, so I headed for Dun to re-visit my Dun island shot. Whilst over there the sheep kept unexpectedly running into me, so I managed to get some nice shots using the 24-120 lens. After a quick lunch, I headed back to the main street to shoot the village and the beach. A short, but heavy rain shower sent us all heading for cover and the first signs of the weather changing were very much in evidence, as the wind was getting up. Our trip round Boreray was now very much in doubt.

The island of Dun off St. Kilda

700-2-7987-R

After a quick tea and cake break on the pier, we all trooped back onto the boat for the sea stack tour. The tour round Boreray and the sea stacks is normally a highlight of the trip, but the wind had risen and the sea was already quite rough, making photographing almost impossible. After an hour of battling round the sea stacks, we headed off into the swell of the open sea for the 4 hour trip back to Uig.

700-2-5498-R

I have to say that the trip is amazing and one I would highly recommend to anyone with a strong stomach, but the prospect of the 5-1/4 hour trip on the rolling and pitching SS Huey is a pretty daunting one and even the cabin girl was sick! Now I’m back home and over the disappointment of another failure, so it’s back to the drawing board and time to put plan C in action…………………

 

News bits & bats………..

Conscious that we have neglected the blog badly recently in favour of Facebook, we have resolved to make an effort from now on.

Lots going on at the moment, so this post is going to be more of a newsletter.

Naturally Inclined Exhibition

Last Thursday saw us head to York to Priestley’s to take our “Naturally Inclined” exhibition down and we were very pleasantly surprised to find that we had had a late flurry of sales, so all in all it’s been a really good exhibition for us. We are indebted to Issy and Rob at Priestley’s and Andy Dalton at RAW for giving us this opportunity to exhibit our work not only a new area, but also in such a lovely gallery space. We wish them every success in the future.
IMG_0964

Thorp Perrow

We were planning to go to Bransdale and Thorp Perrow to shoot bluebells later this week, but Monday dawned cloudy bright so we decided to chance the crowds and head for Thorpe Perrow before the weather worsened. As luck would have it, we beat the crowds and the conditions were just perfect and we topped off the day with a nice ploughman’s lunch in the cafe.

Don’t you just love the vibrant shades of green the trees go in spring? And after the disappointing lack of bluebells at Ellerburn on Friday, we were blown away with the carpet of bluebells at Thorp Perrow.
700-2-7028-J
800-1-3270-R

Scotland

Next off we are heading for Scotland where we’ll be staying in a remote cottage on the Isle of Mull, with views north to Rhum, Skye and Eigg. I then head off for a few nights on Skye where I’ll have a go at photographing the Quirang, then weather permitting I’ll be heading to St. Kilda to camp for a few nights. I’ve been to St. Kilda on day trips a couple of times, but always on un-characteristic bright sunny days. St. Kilda has really captured my imagination, so I really want to do it justice and capture the essence of the place, so I’m really hoping for some moody changeable weather.
Sunrise over the Islands

700-2-5366-R M

Crafted by Hand

Then we head for Masham and “Crafted by Hand”. Crafted by hand is a really well organised and promoted art fair, so we are looking forward to a good couple of days. Once that’s over we’ll have to get down to some serious photo processing.
IMG_0890

Keep shooting

Richard & Janet

Loch Lomond October 2012

Loch Lomond is one of those places we’ve passed many times (Usually on the way to, or from a Hebredian island) and we’ve always said “ we must visit one day”. Well we finally decided that we must actually do it, so we hired a camper van and set off to capture some autumn colour and we weren’t disappointed. Despite being mid October we were blessed with 5 glorious days that also gave us several great sunrises and a couple of good sunsets.

As landscape photographers, we often talk about the “golden hour” of light just before sunset, but the warm late afternoon light we got had to be seen to be believed. We often say we feel privileged to be in such beautiful places in such gorgeous light, but we truly do feel that way and to be able to record it for others to enjoy is always a bonus.

The Lazy Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Sunsets

The second week in May saw us on the lovely Isle of Mull, staying in a cottage on the north west corner of the island. Our cottage is less than 50 yards from the sea, with views to the north over Skye, Rhum and Eigg, with Coll and Tiree to our left and Uist far off in the distance.

We spend our evenings watching the light paint ever changing pictures on Ardnamurchan and the light coming and going over Rhum. The rabbits and birds entertain us by going about their daily business and the otters are regular visitors to the bay.

Who needs David Attenborough, or the television for that matter.

Wednesday night looked promising, with a thin layer of cloud over Rhum that looked as though it would light up at sunset. We sat there with a glass of wine watching the ever changing light develop, then a squall slowly moved in from the east. It was going to be close, would the sun set before the squall obscured Rhum altogether!

At 9pm I finished my glass of wine, put on outdoor clothes and walked a couple of hundred yards to the headland to capture the sun setting over Coll. Meanwhile Janet kept a watchful eye on Rhum and captured this dramatic shot as the squall passed over the island.

Back at the cottage by 9.30 for more wine, feeling very pleased with our evenings work.