During the past year photography has played a more important part in my life than ever before. Not only did I finally commit to sit down and create my own website, but I also decided that I had to turn into some sort of hermit, by going on solo trips to the Highlands, in order to make sure that these trips prioritised photography. In between work, spending time with our wee daughter, being out in the field photographing or editing photographs, I have reduced my social life to embarassingly low levels, so I hope I haven’t lost too many friends in the process! Or if I did, that at least I’ll have some reasonable photographs to show for it!
I have divided my efforts between on the one hand seascapes, which were mainly taken early morning within a one hour radius from Edinburgh to ensure that I would be back before the family woke up, and on the other hand mountainscapes, which were predominantly taken during a handful wild camping trips in the Scottish Highlands. I have not spent much time shooting the iconic locations, (i.e. Skye, Glen Coe), or but I hope I’ll find some time in the new year to fill this gap in my portfolio.
Below you can find the ten photographs taken this year which currently mean the most to me. Making this selection was subjective, and even difficult enough, (if I had to pick 10 photos again tomorrow, I have no doubt that the list would look different) so I am just going to list them in broadly chronological order. As we haven’t been able to travel abroad much, all of my landscape photographs were taken in Bonny Scotland, which is one of the greatest places to be for landscape photographers anyway!
I can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists too, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled on social media.
Seaweed on the sandy beach at Sango Bay, near Durness
This was taken on a trip to Assynt and Sutherland at the start of the year. The weather was far from great, and my alarm did not go off on the one day where sunrise was spectacular, but I managed to get some decent photographs in between the showers. The Sutherland coast is brilliant, and it is a region I wish to explore more often if it wouldn’t be halfway between Edinburgh and Norway!
This photograph symbolized my newly acquired appreciation of how overcast conditions exacerbated the blue tones during twilight. I have regularly started to prefer the subtle tones during the blue hour over the more in-your-face colours of the golden hour, which is undoubtedly just a temporary phase.
Dail Mor beach, Isle of Lewis
Like most photographers who purchased a 10 stops ND filter, I have been obsessed with long exposures for a long time. My 17-40L and my trusted B&W ND110 were almost inseparable, and I almost only took fast exposures to get an idea about the exposure time needed. Early this year, just before this photo was taken, I started to dislike the uniformity of the silky water when using long exposures, and made some deliberate efforts to experiment more with shutter speeds.
Tom na Gruagaich, Beinn Alligin, Torridon.
I have wild camped in the mountains in the Alps and the Andes many times before, but never have I done this on my own. This was taken on my first solo wild camping trip in the Scottish Highlands, where I pitched my tent on the summit of Beinn Alligin, Torridon. The ascent felt brutal and I often prayed for a mule as I was loaded with water, camping gear and camera kit, but the pain was quickly forgotten as the views were stunning. I have since lightened my gear considerably, so later trips were a bit easier on the knees and back. I am now even tempted to try out a mirrorless system such as Fuji to further reduce the weight and bulk..
Colourful sunset at Seacliff Beach
Seacliff beach is by a large margin the most beautiful beach in East Lothian, and is just a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh. I have been here many times, and got some great sunrises, but this was the first time I decided to give it a go at sunset. And I think it’s fair to say that this was one of the most colourful sunsets I have ever seen, and it was a clear lucky case of being at the right place at the right time. I think that this is one of the rare cases where I get away without using foreground interest in a wide-angle shot, as the colourful clouds reflected in the wet sand make up for it.
Torridonian sandstone pillars, Sgorr Tuath
Foreground interest is one thing that this photograph doesn’t lack! The Torridonian sandstone formations on Sgorr Tuath are some of the finest in the region, and it it almost impossible to fail to get some great compositions on there, so I can take absolutely no credit for this photo. The walk to Sgorr Tuath was completely off-piste, as no paths existed and the terrainw as surprisingly boggy, even for Scottish standards.
Dark clouds over Liathach, Torridon.
Haze was the defining condition during my backpacking trip to Beinn Eighe. While I was initially a little disappointed, I think that the haze softened the light considerably, which is great when shooting in back light. The fact that the cloud above Liathach almost mirrors its shape, made this photograph my favourite from that trip.
Sunrise, St Abbs Head Nature Reserve
Cliffs? Check. Sea stacks? Check. Sunrise? Check. Next.
Golden hour, An Teallach
An Teallach is by some considered Scotland’s finest mountain. That is quite a bold claim, as there are many great contenders, but there are certainly less inspiring ridges. This was the photo from my trip to An Teallach taken in the best light. I was hoping to get some wide-angle shots in this golden light, but the sun disappeared behind the clouds only seconds after taking this shot. I did take those vista-style compositions regardless, forever angry that I have one shot with great light and one shot with a decent composition, but no shots with positive aspects from both…. Typical!
Cul Beag at an autumn sunrise.
My last wild camp was on Cul Mor in Assynt, which offers spectacular views over Coigach and Inverpolly. There was some amazing foreground interest in the form of Torridonian sandstone, which I used to “naturally” frame Cul Beag.
If you’d like to see more of my photographs, my portfolio can be found here and my most recent work can be seen here. Most of my photographs shown in the galleries are available as prints, or for licensing, so feel free to contact me if you’d like more information.
I hope you enjoyed this. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.