In anticipation of my trip to the Outer Hebrides which starts at the end of this week, I thought I’d share with you a few images and stories from previous trips to Scotland which, as I mentioned in my Welcome Blog, is one of my absolute favourite places on the planet! I have been visiting the West Coast of Scotland since I was a small child and have a great many fond memories of summer holidays spent rock-pooling, braving the chilly waters for a swim, walking in the mountains and eating great local seafood.
There is something slightly other-worldly about Scotland for me. I think it has something to do with the vast open landscapes where mountains meet the sea and nature surrounds you completely. Every breath of air seems fresher. The smell of pine forests, bracken and dark, damp, peaty earth come to mind, along with the call of Curlew and Oystercatcher across the loch, the tingle of salt on the wind and stretches of open sandy beach with barely a soul in sight.
There is something ultimately calming about the Scottish landscape, even in bad weather. I think for me it stems from being so utterly surrounded by the natural world. So to start off my pictorial reminiscences, I’d like to share a photo that I took last year on the Isle of Mull: Beinn Mhor reflected in the loch under a golden evening light.
Reflections make for rather wonderful landscape subjects and with an estimated 31,000 lochs in Scotland there are plenty of opportunities! This next image is one that seems to be particularly popular with my clients: Rannoch Moor Reflections.
Another aspect of landscape photography that I enjoy are sunsets and sunrises. The colours somehow seem more vivid in Scotland and there are some fantastic locations to shoot from too. They vary a huge amount so I’m only going to show you two.
The first is a sunrise from the Isle of Mull which I found to be particularly dramatic. The clouds were lit with bright, flaming colours but the land was still quite dark. It was a challenging shot to achieve, as I didn’t want to burn out the whole thing and neither did I want to lose the detail of the recession in the hills. By waiting for a cloud to obscure the sun just enough, I was able to achieve the fiery look that I was after and retain the elements that I wanted.
Contrastingly, the next image has a completely different feel to it. I have seen similarly fiery sunsets, but this one was much more serene and had gentler pastel tones which I really liked. The sun had already disappeared beyond the horizon so I had to use a longer shutter speed for this one to pick out the colours that I wanted. Shooting over the sea meant that there was very little foreground interest so I chose to eliminate it almost completely and focus solely on the sky.
Of course there’s some wonderful wildlife in Scotland too and some iconic species to boot. You simply can’t go to the Isle of Mull without looking for Sea Eagles. I would love to get close enough to take shots of one fishing but with only a 400mm lens I decided to take a different view. Here’s a shot that I took last year of an adult in its environment with sea cliffs in the background.
The coast is also a great spot to look out for Otters and this next image is one from a memorable encounter with a gorgeous Dog Otter which landed its catch just beside the road!
Finally, I don’t think you can think of Scotland without thinking of Red Squirrels. Apart from being absolutely adorable and charismatic creatures, they are of course under threat from non-native Grey Squirrels which have pushed them out of their habitat in other areas. This image is one of a great many I took when I spent a day watching them in their natural woodland environment one spring.
I hope you have enjoyed my wander down memory lane and that if you haven’t been to Scotland yet I might have inspired you to go. I will be back in two weeks with a new post on my latest trip.
In the meantime, I will leave you in the capable hands of a good friend and fellow nature lover, Ryan Clark, who will be guest blogging for me while I’m away.