Something that has been talked about for a while was a trip to Scotland with fellow Photographers Andrew Dunn and Ben Irving. Finally getting this organised for last weekend we headed away early Friday morning - after a Weatherspoons breakfast of course.
Ben agreed to drive - having an Estate Car with a roof box it was the obvious decision. We were heading towards the Glencoe Mountain Resort to stay in one of their Microlodge's for the weekend.
After a pleasant journey North and West we arrived at our destination where the conditions seemed pretty good.
Here to the left are a couple if iPhone shots of our Microlodge. Perfect for our purposes. We quickly dumped our non-camera gear and headed off in search for our first location as Sunset was forecast in around an hour's time.
Driving along past The Buachaille we sighted what would have made a fantastic photo of a Stag in the middle of a Stream. Unfortunately we were very high up and there was no place to stop. But still it gave us great hope for the rest of the weekend to find a Stag.
There were some nice clouds and the waters were fairly still so we had hope of finding a nice reflection. After a little bit of debating about which location might make the best we headed down to the water's edge where I was treated to making this image.
Although we weren't treated to the fantastic colours of a Sunset that you really always want as a Landscape Photographer; the covering of cloud helps bring an atmospheric feel to the Scottish Highlands. The stillness also helps in making this reflection. A good start to the weekend I felt.
Part of the plan was to do some nighttime shooting to try and get some star trails or maybe the Milky Way. We needed it to be pitch dark for this so we headed along to The Real Food Cafe for Fish and Chips while we waited.
Unfortunately the heavy cloud that was around during the sunset stayed around so that put a stop to our nighttime shooting plans. This might not have been the worst news. After scouting our Sunrise photography location we headed off to bed.
Here I got to spend the first night in my Brand New Sleeping Bag - Small things to get excited about.
The great thing about selecting this location to stay was its central location and close proximity to where we wanted to be for Sunrises and Sunsets. This meant we only needed to be up at 6AM which for Landscapes isn't that early.
Here is my first Photograph at the bottom of The Buachaille, which is the mountain at the head of Glen Etive.
This is an iconic location and it is not difficult to see why. There is compositions and views in all directions. As somebody who doesn't shoot a large amount of Landscapes it was a little overwhelming to work out what I wanted to include and not include.
Here are a few more photos from this location.
We headed along to another location before breakfast as the light looked like it would make a good image along the 3 peaks known as the 3 Sisters.
Here is my mono image which also shows the mist still circulating through the mountain ranges.
Below - This Photograph was taken during a search for a Sunrise location. It really sums up the highlands for me.
On the Saturday during the day we didn't have any specific locations in mind so we just had a wander around some of the approach roads around Glencoe scouting our next Sunset and Sunrise locations - which is what you want to be photographing for Landscapes.
We came across Lochan na h-Achlaise which seemed to offer something a little different. There were lots of little islands in this loch that created some interesting compositions.
Left - I decided to change things a little and get a few shots with my Canon 70-200 which isn't a normal landscape lens but with the interesting compositions zooming in and pin pointing details seemed to work here.
Below - My final image of Lochan na h-Achlaise.
After the disappointment of missing an early Stag we were on the look out all of the time to get another one. Earlier in the day we had heard two stags calling at each-other. We identified one - just through binoculars - but couldn't see the other. So it was pleasing when Ben identified one from some distance. Driving down I managed to get this photo. Not the most spectacular Stag that lives in the highlands but a Stag all the same.
Heading back towards our base after Photographing the Stag we pulled up at the side of the road next to see this small waterfall and rapids. There are so many of these types of rock and water formations along the many rivers. You can stop at them all so you have to make a decision on which ones would have not just good rapids but a good backdrop as well.
Right - Here is an iPhone shot of the setup.
Below - Here is my finished image from this location.
When we were at this location a couple came over and said there were going to be a some Kayaks coming down these falls. So we waited around thinking that this could make some good images. However after waiting a little while we saw the two Kayaks being carried along the road - Apparently the water further up the river was around 3-4 feet lower than it should be at this time of year so they were unable to navigate a section before these falls. Nevermind we were soon back in the car driving to search for a location for Sunset and Sunday's Sunrise.
Below - Imagine this shot if a Kayak was coming down the waterfall.
Our good fortune with the weather began to run out a little on the Saturday evening. The cloud was heavy so there just wasn't the chance of colour that we craved. Our plan of trying to capturing some Star Trails and Milk Way was also not going to happen. However the forecast was telling us it was going to get clear later. So after a meal and few games of pool we headed to bed with the aim of getting up after a couple of hours.
I was dispatched out the micro lodge at around 11PM to check - I reported there was some stars but also cloud. After another hour in bed waiting we tried again - but the cloud had now taken over the whole sky and the odd star was gone. So we knocked this on the head and set our alarms back for the morning.
On the second morning we headed the short journey down to the location we had scouted the evening before. Again we awoke to a mild cloudy morning. We weren't sure how much sunrise we would get because of the cloud.
Right - Here is a Selfie of me in the river. The iPhone does a good job of brightening the image - it was dark hence the headtorch.
Below - My favourite image was taken before Sun broke the horizon and we still had these lovely blue tones.
Here below is Ben's photo of me getting this image.
After going back to our Microlodge for the last time to clear out our gear we headed off this time driving along the Scottish side of the Border heading towards Falkirk then down the A1.
Heading towards Glen Orchy Falls we caught sight of these rapids. As mentioned before there are so many possibilities that you can't stop at them all so there has to be something special about when you do stop or you will never get to where you want to be. Although I generally love the colours around the Highlands there is something special about a Black and White image of water and the contrast on the rocks. Glad we stopped here.
Heading back to the car with my camera already off my tripod I spied the beginnings for a Rainbow on the horizon. Waiting a few more minutes I then realised this was a double Rainbow. I wish this had been over the top of the waterfalls above but you can't have everything.
Top of my wishlist for the trip was to get a photo of some Highland Cattle. I am not quite sure what it is about these animals but I think they really sum up the area and the heritage to me. I thought I had missed the opportunity to get an image of one until once again Ben's eyesight caught a few in a field when we were well on our way. out of Highlands. Quickly turning around and parking up I managed to get a few frames off. This was taken at the furthest reach of my Zoom lens with a 2x teleconverter attached. So it was a little challenging but I am really happy with the finished image. I processed it in Black and White as I just think the details are brought out so much more.
Well on the way home our last Photographic stop was to be the Kelpies at Falkirk. The conditions were looking good for some colour in a Sunset. However just as this was starting to open the heavens opened and for the first time on this trip we started to get wet. I had carried my waterproof cover for my camera all weekend so I was actually pleased to be able to get it out and put it to the test. I also pulled out the waterproof cover for my bag. So once the important items were going to be dry I concentrated getting my own hood on.
Right - Here are a couple of iPhone shots of the setup and an idea of the rain.
As the rain began to fall I noticed at a completely different side to where I was setup that a Rainbow was beginning to form. I decided to gamble and give up on a what I thought was the best location and went to the opposite side of the Kelpies. I know I could only get one of them in and not both. However I think the result with the Rainbow was worth it.
Overall a fantastic weekend and we were definitely fortunate with the conditions - we may have not had some amazing sunset or sunrise but we got some pretty consistent cloud and nice light throughout the whole trip. Along with the many laughs and photography related banter we definitely need to arrange something similar again soon.
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