Posts from the ‘Scotland’ category

Always grab the opportunity

Across Loch Eil
Across Loch Eil

There are occasions when a quickly taken shot can make for a pleasing image even if there is virtually no time taken to adjust the camera settings and compose the picture.

This photograph of Loch Eil in Scotland is a case in point. Back in 2011, I was travelling by train from Glasgow to Mallaig on the west coast. Having left the town of Fort William the train continues it’s journey taking in some spectacular countryside along the way. In fact this route is considered to be one of the finest railway journeys in the world. As the track passed alongside the Loch, the cloudscape and light across the water just had to be captured. I really only had time to turn the camera on, swiftly compose the shot through the window of my carriage and press the shutter. Although the train was not moving that fast, if I had taken the time to check or alter any of the settings on the camera, the opportunity to take press the shutter would have been lost several hundred yards back down the track, as this view soon disappeared behind a line of trees along the shoreline.

The image straight out of the camera was pretty poor. In particular the horizon was far from level and the exposure was definitely out. Fortunately I was able to straighten and crop the image and improve the overall tone in Lightroom. I think the final image is very pleasing. It may not be prefect and I know that had I been standing by the loch, with a tripod and time to move around, I would have composed and exposed the photograph differently. Nevertheless as a quick opportunistic shot taken through the window of a moving train, it still works for me, and I would rather have the image in my collection than  nothing at all.

Eigg revisted

In September 2011 I went on my first photographic workshop with Bruce Percy to the Isle of Eigg which is just off the West Coast of Scotland. Ever since I first visited this beautiful part of the world some thirty years ago, its always been a place I have wanted to return to, and to this very day, still do. So the opportunity some fifteen months ago to combine my relatively new interest in photography with a trip to the Isle of Eigg was greatly anticipated. It was a wonderful few days despite the fact that it was cut short by one day, because the weather closed in and the group feared that the Cal Mac ferry back to the mainland might not sail when scheduled. Despite this I still came home with several memory cards full of images.

Bruce was a great tutor and fun to be with. I love his work, which has now been published in two books – ‘The Art of Adventure’ and ‘Iceland – A Journal of Nocturnes’. But for his teaching and his inspiration I am not sure my photography would be where it is today. Thanks Bruce!

Although the title of this post might suggest that I have been back to Eigg, sadly this is not the case. One day I would love to return but for the moment I thought I would look back on some of the images I took whilst on the island and reprocess a few of them. I would like to think that my photography has come a long way since the workshop. At the time of my visit, I was almost exclusively taking colour images and not converting them to black and white. My knowledge of post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop was also quite basic and I had never heard of Silver Efex Pro which I now use all the time.

The fact that I am now looking at the world in monochrome is perhaps down to a black and white conversion of one of the photographs I took on the workshop. This image is ‘Sand Waves’ and can be seen by clicking on the link. I shall not feature it here because its already appeared in a  number of earlier posts. Looking back I guess the way I chose to process this photo was really the start of my love affair with black and white, and this has grown and grown in the intervening period.

So here are a few of the photographs I took on Eigg. They have all been processed in the past few days from the original RAW file. Its very interesting for me to compare these results with how I tackled the question of post processing over a year ago. I was pleased with the results then but in my view the latest set of images help me to understand the direction in which my photography is taking me. It’s exciting to learn and develop new skills which I hope and intend to build upon in the  year ahead.

Reflections in the sand
Reflections in the Sand

Fading light over Rum
Fading light over Rum
Solitary shell - looking towards Rum
Solitary Shell – looking towards Rum
Clouds over Rum
Clouds over Rum

In total I took over 600 images when I was on the Isle of Eigg. From this number the four photos above and two others, namely ‘Sand Waves’ and ‘Sea Swirl’ are the six shots I am most pleased with. A return of 1 in 100 shutter releases. What this has taught me  is that I need to try and pre-visualise the shot I am taking before releasing the shutter. Asking myself how it is composed, how do I deal with the exposure, do I need to use filters and lastly how will I post process the image? I therefore need to take more time before taking a shot. I would have to adopt this approach if using a film camera – in many ways the digital age has made us lazy…….we can click and click and click to our hearts content but that won’t necessarily produce a good image.

It reminds me of the saying and I quote –

‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away’ 

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