You can wax lyrical about the Scottish Highlands but the fact is that in autumn, it rains. It sometimes snows too but it always rains. OK, once we’re over that hurdle we can look at the positives. Rain brings discomfort it’s true; it also brings on premature insanity for landscape photographers (there’s only so many times you can wipe your filters dry) but very often, it brings spectacular light against spectacular skies. And so it was during our recent Highland Odyssey photo tour. We can take our groups to the right places at the right time but more often than not, we have to work for our pictures.
The autumn colour this year was as good as I’ve seen it and in some places, comparable with anywhere in the world. We always make a big play on shooting with the conditions and autumn foliage works particularly well in rain. But if truth be told most visitors to the Highlands want the big view and that normally means a bit of a climb and a long wait. This first image overlooking Rothiemurcus forest is a case in point. The path is fairly steep and the light was fleeting but for those who endured the squalls, the wait was worthwhile.
After a few days in the Cairngorms we headed north to Assynt and once again picked off what was on offer between the relentless weather fronts. There’s so much potential in this area – much of it untapped – and for me, our visit was frustratingly brief.
Our drive to Skye took monsoon rain onto a different level but once there, we dodged and weaved the wet stuff and enjoyed moments of pure photographic magic. Predictably I sacrificed a couple of filters to the Gods of the Ocean and we very nearly sacrificed one of our guests to the Gods of the Wilderness (another story for another day). Jose (from the very flat Netherlands) took a dive into a raging mountain burn and Robin (is she really that mad?) read me poems in the rain atop a sheep dung laden knoll. Four of our intrepid group set off at daft o’ clock in the howling wind with ostensibly no chance of any decent shots of Old Man of Storr. Three hours later their smiles were as full as their memory cards. He (and she) who dares…
It’s all a bit surreal at times but part of the adventure that is landscape photography in Scotland. This was our last tour of a fantastic year and although I have to confess my energy tank is running low, I wouldn’t swap the last 12 months for anything. Looking forward it’s likely that our tours will consolidate given the other demands on or time but as I’ve said before on this blog, there’s only one thing better than photography in the wild and that’s sharing it with other like-minded people. So we might be consolidating but we’ll remain committed to top photography in top places with top people. It all adds up to top fun.
Highland Odyssey is taking a rest but my best buddy Mark Hamblin and I will be back in action this time next year with our Summit to Sea tour. There are a few places left so join us if you want to lose yourself, and probably your sanity, in the splendour of the Highlands.