As the rain hammered relentlessly on the windscreen and the headlights barely penetrated the gloom, the sense of trepidation and dare I say it, helplessness, was palpable. After a long day of trains, planes and automobiles, this was not the Icelandic welcome our guests had in mind. I made an inadequate attempt to lift the mood but only as the lights of our hotel came into view with safety and sustenance assured, could I sense a collective sigh of relief.
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. Continue reading “Highland Odyssey”
It is entirely possible that Iceland will be unkind to you. Not that the Icelandic people are unpleasant you understand, far from it, but the island can serve up copious helpings of rain, snow and wind followed by more rain, snow and wind. Did I mention that it might rain? On the plus side, it is that very changeability that makes Iceland such an exciting place to photograph. Continue reading “Extreme Iceland”
My feet are wet (still), my back is killing me but my heart is full. Now don’t worry, I’m not about to embark on some sort of deep-rooted emotional outpouring (as if) but having just wrapped up our Ultimate Autumn Gold tour – our last of the year – I’m feeling quite…well…if not happy, at least content (I’m told by one of our guests that men are only ever ‘happy’ in short bursts – she may be right).
The 2012 Cairngorms colours were – still are – splendid and although the light could have been kinder, we were given moments of pure magic alongside the inevitable landscape photographer’s curse of self pity when things are “just not quite right.” They rarely are and we’re rarely happy; it’s just the way it is.
Skye was predictably wet (does anyone have an answer to keeping filters dry in driving rain?) but as ever, with hard work and a little imagination, the island delivered. One of my favourite photography locations in Scotland is a remote(ish) beach on Skye’s west coast and if it wasn’t for the rain, I’d probably still be there. Another favourite, Elgol, was full of mood and as each year passes, increasingly full of photographers, which is no bad thing in my book.
We dropped in on Glen Affric along with a seemingly obligatory stop at Ffordes camera shop for coffee and in the case of one guest, an ornamental ceramic cockerel (a vital photographic tool).
So back to happiness…or rather contentedness. There’s something special in sharing photographic experiences with like-minded people. I always say this so forgive the repetition, but we are truly fortunate in the chemistry, dynamics, profile, mix – call it what you will – of our groups. Ultimate Autumn Gold 2012 was no exception. We’re deadly serious about our photography – I hope that goes without saying – but outwith time in the field, there’s nothing wrong with having great fun. And we did lots of that on this tour. It’s important.
These images are not prize-winners but I hope you enjoy them nevertheless. Amidst the wind, the rain and the cold I enjoyed taking them because there’s only one thing better than being in wild places and that’s being in wild places with people who share a sense of the privilege of…well, life really. A sense of humour helps too.
Another year of photo tours draws to a close and with many happy – yes happy – memories in the bank, my thanks on this particular trip go to co-guide Mark Hamblin and (in no particular order) to Margaret (and the pot cockerel), Robyn, Jasmine (check out her cool fashion sense below), Marie, Steve, Kevin, Roger, Mike, Bob, Don, (that) Duncan and Jan for your excellent company. And do remember, men CAN whisk eggs.
If you’d like to join us next year for more photography and frolics in the autumnal Scottish Highlands, our expanded 2013 tour can be booked here
I was recently giving thought to the onset of autumn – and then winter – and the roller-coaster of weather we’ll inevitably be dished up. I’ve always been a fan of ostensibly ‘bad’ weather although over the years, I’ve struggled to find people who share such a view. I was buoyed therefore on reading a recent blog post by colleague Bruce Percy, who’s difficulty in filling his winter landscape workshops on Harris & Skye, reveals an apparent widespread reluctance to photographing during the ‘dark months’. As Bruce says – and I agree with him – photographing on the edge of dynamic weather systems is often the most rewarding.
Inaweek or so I’ll be headed off to Harris myself with a group of guests who have ‘seen the light’. I’m sure we’re all hoping for a nice bit of sunny weather to reveal the turquoise Hebridean sea as we sit eating our lunch, but at the same time, I’m hoping for changeable weather providing exciting light. Yes it might rain. I guess it could even snow, but in between, there’s change and that’s when it all happens.
Perhaps we all need to re-arrange our photographic thought processes and spend the ‘good months’ processing the images from the time we spend on the edge during autumn and winter. It can be an unforgiving edge but ‘bad weather’ is only bad for those who aren’t prepared to embrace it.
Somewhere in the unfathomable depths of our minds, we all connect differently with places, people and cultural trends like music and fashion. I guess it’s what’s referred to as taste. Most would say…well at least my wife…that I’m not over-endowed in that department: she’s seen my 30 year allegiance to Status Quo (try as I might Hip Dizzy Doo-Daa Wotsit just doesn’t do it for me)! And so it is with photographic locations.
Last autumn I visited Skye for the first time (yes OK it’s taken me a while) and I wrote about it in this blog. It was a great trip (fun group of people always helps) but in many ways, not radically different from any other. So why is it niggling away at me? Why is it I can’t wait to get back? Is it that for some reason I connected with the place…or the people? I’m not sure to be honest. What I do know though is that in spite of it’s well-visited iconic landmarks, Skye is somehow tugging at my creative apron strings.
As time goes on working in Scotland is becoming increasingly exciting – I’m seeing new opportunities for creative imagery and perhaps more significantly, visual story-telling. Skye is right up there on my list, a list which in the past might have been topped with ostensibly more rewarding locations much further a field. So perhaps my photographic perspective is evolving (I hope that’s the case) and perhaps too are my tastes. As for the Quo, well some things transcend fickle cultural trends. Down Down y’all.
ps. If you fancy joining myself and colleague Mark Hamblin in Skye, take a look in Photo-tours.
Tardy blog updates mean two things:
1. No new pictures to show.
2. No new pictures to show because I’ve not left the office.
Actually that’s not completely true but as cold air wafts through the office window, I reluctantly conclude that summer has passed me by and a new season is beckoning. To be fair August is a dreadful month in my book. Often wet, always midgy and little in the way of inspiration. So summer might have been a non-event but the wonderful hues of autumn are not far away – bring it on!