Wild Wild West!

Sometimes, just sometimes, words (and pictures for that matter) are just not enough. “Can we just stand and look?” came the request from two ladies on our recent Wild Wild West tour to Lewis and Harris. We were perched high above a remote beach with an angry sea boiling beneath us. Occasionally the sun pierced the bank of scudding clouds, lighting the bay and painting the crest of each rolling wave yellow. It was, as they say just across the Atlantic, awesome. But standing and looking is just not on when there are pictures to be taken. Oh no, we were having none of that fluffy nonsense on a Northshots tour.

There is definitely something about islands and yes, the weather can be rough out here on the edge, but for a photographer, it’s a tiny price to pay for a slice of solitude and some truly spectacular vistas. Wildness for me is like a drug; I just have to get a regular fix and it doesn’t get any better than staring out across a sea that stretches almost beyond our limited imagination. Sharing the experience with a truly great bunch of guests…well, it’s just the business.

From our cosy and welcoming base at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert (thanks for the recommendation Paul), we explored all four corners of both Lewis and Harris taking in remote windswept beaches, rocky headlands pounded by the Atlantic, and of course the famous Callanish Stones. For one of our days, the rain was more persistent than usual but we found sanctuary in a charming deserted croft house followed by coffee and cake at Skoon Art Cafe, a perfect respite from the inevitable Hebridean squalls.

We all got pictures of course and I hope you like the images above, but do you know what, our two guests, Julie and Sue were right. It’s the images that have etched themselves on our minds that will persist long after the photographs have lost their appeal. Standing and looking is no bad thing.

Thanks to the Wild West bunch of 2011. If you’d like to join us next spring when we return to the Wild Wild West (and I have to say, I think you should), you can book here

What’s it like to be a nature photographer?

I wish I could remember the answer to that question sometimes. Like many others (I know because I’ve heard the complaints) I seem to spend more and more time behind a computer screen. OK, mine is a warm office with great views and a regular supply of milky coffee (a throwback to my childhood) courtesy of my lovely wife Amanda. But it’s NOT what I signed up to!

Last weekend I spent a few days with colleagues Mark Hamblin, Niall Benvie and videographer Raymond Besant. Were were working on a 2020VISION assignment in north-west Scotland. OK the weather wasn’t great but do you know what, I could feel the blood pumping through my veins again; the creative urge that brought me to this business in the first place surged back to the surface. But most of all, I was getting a wildness fix.

Standing alone at Achnahaird Bay as a hazy dusk descended, I got a call from Amanda with some very sad news – a friend of ours had died very suddenly. Shocking though the news was, I could not have chosen to receive it anywhere more comforting. Wildness is not just somewhere that serves up spectacular imagery, it’s where we came from; it’s our home. I know our friend would have empathised with such a view.