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The Most Beautiful Loch in Scotland? – A Hike across Cairngorm to Stunning Loch Avon
https://youtu.be/jONYTJFBjMQ Starting Out A few days after my photography mission to Braeriach it seemed that the warm settled weather had no intention of leaving the Highlands. The Cairngorms were bathing in sunlight day after day. So, after letting my legs recover for a few days, I headed back to the hills to visit a very special place. Hidden in the heart of the Cairngorms lies what I think might be the most beautiful loch in …
Autumn Photography Workshops in the Scottish Highlands
Autumn Photography Workshops I'm pleased to announce that I will be running a series of one-day landscape photography workshops this Autumn. Each workshop will be taking place in a different location across the Highlands, visiting some of the very finest landscapes Scotland has to offer for us to enjoy while we learn. Who's It For? New to photography but keen to do something fun and creative? Had a decent camera for a while but have …
How to Read a Histogram and Why It’s Vital to Good Photography
In digital photography there are these things called histograms. They look a little bit like this: As you can see, it's a kind of graph with lots of peaks and troughs. Most cameras have an option to display these when you review the image. On some, you can see a live histogram that changes as you point the camera at different things. Unfortunately though, it is completely baffling as to what it actually means. So …
Why Is the Sky White In My Photos?
We've all experienced the disappointment of photographing a gorgeous scene, only for the photo to come out looking horrible. One of the most common problems encountered is the White Sky. Like in the image above, all the detail and colour is completely lost. So why does this happen? And how can we deal with the problem? Why The White Sky Happens The White Sky happens because the camera becomes 'overexposed' in the brightest parts of …
What are the best camera settings for landscape photography?
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with modern cameras, I'll admit. For one thing, they are far more complex than they need to be to shoot landscapes. It seems that there is no end of buttons, menus and controls that perform functions which vary from the gimmicky to the downright arcane. The reality is that most of these controls are completely unnecessary. Whenever I have a new camera to work with I usually …
Camera Exposure – A Primer in Photography’s Most Important Fundamental
Understanding exposure is the most fundamental knowledge in the world of photography. This short primer will explain all the terms and what they mean. By the end of this article, and with a little practice, you should be confident in understanding how and why to control the exposure on your camera and how it affects your image. Understanding Exposure In photography the word Exposure refers to how much light comes into the camera for any …
An Incredible Summit Camp on Scotland’s Third Highest Mountain: Braeriach
It was three little words that cemented my decision to attempt the hill I've been dreaming of for nearly a decade. Three little words in the weather forecast that carried a prospect of such beauty as needs to be seen to be believed. Summits above cloud. The moment I read that I knew I had to give it a shot. The mountain that has been looming over me for all these years, standing there as …
Diving into the Fantastic Beauty of Scotland’s Purple Heather.
Heather season is well and truly here at last in the Highlands, with the tiny pink flowers drenching the landscape in colour. I got out a couple of times in the last few days to do some exploring around the forests near Loch an Eilean. Around six weeks ago I hurt my back and had to be very cautious and gentle with exercise, so this is the first time I've really been out since June. …
Why Do People Dirty Camp?
It seems like I can't go more than a few days without seeing a facebook post about another 'dirty camping' incident in the Highlands. And, as a ten-year resident of the Cairngorms, I feel like I've cleaned up more than my fair share of other people's mess when I come across it during my photography adventures.
The Best Time for Landscape Photography in Scotland
As July comes to a close, I'm keenly aware that I haven't been very creative lately. That's ok. I've always found that high summer is the least inspiring time of year for me. It's a combination of factors. The heat for one thing. The uniformity of the landscape during 'peak green'. And also the fact that there are so many people around in the summer. I find my emotional reaction to a natural landscape is …
My Perfect Night Out – Cairngorm Solstice
A certain euphoria came over me as I dashed back and forth. This was living. My heart was bursting with the joy of the mountain. My lungs breathed the clarity of the air. My blood flowed with the purity of the water that flowed and pooled in the rocks. My eyes sparkled with richness of the morning light. My body felt the coldness of the wind and stone, but met it with its own life …
Coire Mhic Fhearchair – A Perfect Torridon Night
For many years I've wanted to spend a night camped at the spectacular Coire Mhic Fhearchair in Torridon. This magnificent coire is one of the finest in Scotland, owing to its remote location and its incredible geology. The coire lies on the north side of Beinn Eighe, among some of the wildest terrain to be found anywhere in Scotland. A 7km walk with around 500m of ascent is the shortest way to reach it. Once …
Moments of Loch Maree
I have always thought the waters of Loch Maree are one of those few places in Scotland that can only be described by one word: elemental. As if they came fresh from the forging of the world. Pure. Tempestuous. Wild. The long nose of the kayak rode up on a wave and slapped down hard, splashing water into the air. The wind snatched the spray and slapped me in the face with it, catching me …
A Walk Among Elementals
"this journey (…) is not to be undertaken lightly. One walks among elementals, and elementals are not governable. There are awakened also in oneself by the contact elementals that are as unpredictable as wind or snow”Nan Shepherd, The living Mountain I don't know what it is, but there's just something about this place. These red rocks, these shining snows, these coires and carns. It's not like other mountains I know. White clouds are blending the …
Meditative Photography
Very often landscape photography feels like a chase; trying to read the signals of weather, light and landscape to put yourself in the right place and time to see something remarkable. Guessing, hoping, searching, trying, often failing. But it's not always like that. Sometimes photography happens much more gently. Like sleep, it comes when you aren't trying. The ifs and maybes of what could happen disappear, and you find yourself lost in the clarity of …
My First Wild Camp of the Year
The recent spell of fine weather here in the Highlands was a great opportunity to enjoy a relatively easy night out in a tent. After several good hill days on Cairngorm and Creag Meagaidh, I was very keen and eager to spend some more time among the mountains with my camera. I chose a fairly easy option to ease back into things, and to polish up skills that have gone a little rusty during lockdown. …
Sunset on Cairngorm
I needed a moment to pause as I took in the ridge that I was about to climb. 'Oh boy. Here we go.' Sometimes I think it would be nice if these mountains would just stay the same size for once. But they seem to grow and they shrink. Tonight the ridge seems long. 'No rush' I told myself, as I set a foot forward into the heather and took the very first step up. …
Walking at the Forest’s Edge
Despite having spent over a decade exploring the Caledonian Forests of the Rothiemurchus estate, there are some areas of these woods where I have very rarely set foot. The higher reaches of the forest, where it fades and blends into the mountainsides of the northern Cairngorms, is an area of huge photographic and emotional potential that I have barely begun to explore. For the last several months, though, I've known that this is where the …
Thoughts on The Darkest Day
I've been trying to get my head in gear to write a new post for weeks now. This is the 5th draft I've started in ten minutes, but this is the one that's going to stick. When I sat down and started writing I thought I'd go with the prevalent mood that I see online today – the mood of fury and disaster. I even drafted something apologising for my tendency to always seek a …
Today Was a Gift
A few days ago the first snows of winter arrived on the mountains. There was a hard edged clarity of light in the forest that I only know from winter – white edges and black shadows running along every branch. The remains of autumn colours clung to the tips of wind stripped birch trees, like the final tiny glow of a candle flame before it dies.The day was beautiful, but it seemed to signal a …