Isle of Skye

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The world famous Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye is a beautiful island off the North West coast of Scotland. With it’s rugged landscape, dramatic mountains, gorgeous coastline, lochs, and ever changing light –  it’s a mystical and enchanting destination with something for everyone – a utopia for travellers, walkers, climbers, photographers, fishermen (and fisherwomen), bird-watchers, food-lovers, whisky drinkers and lovers of music amongst the many reasons for visiting. 

I visited for the first time this August – I’m Scottish, so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get there, but it has. I had heard tales of busy roads, full car-parks and many, many visitors during the busy months of July and August, but I have to say I was truly shocked at the sheer number of tourists, cars and camper-vans on the island. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to dash round the island in a whistle stop fashion – only stopping for a moment for a group photograph at an iconic viewpoint, before moving onto the next. 

Don’t misunderstand me – my intention in writing this it not too deter anyone heading here. However, many of the roads are single-track – the pace of travel is slow and the essential passing places are not to be used for car-parking or no-one can get anywhere. Sadly – especially around the tourist spots – this was a common problem.With travel grinding to a halt and the grass verges on roads being chewed up with drivers having to struggle to pass each other. A little bit of common sense and respect wouldn’t go amiss.

Please go and appreciate the wonder of Skye – but respect is needed, and maybe July and August is not the time to go….


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Arran

I had the opportunity for a very quick visit to The Isle of Arran recently – I’ve visited there a few times before, but never with my camera and/or the time to properly explore it as a seascape photography location. Although not as dramatic or as atmospheric as many of the other Scottish islands, but – if you are in Central Scotland – much easier to get too and definitely worthy of consideration for a trip. The coastal landscape is subtle, there are no rock-stacks or obvious ‘classic location’ shots that will excite the ‘shot-baggers’ (if you’ve followed any of my earlier posts you’ll know my impatience with people who rush around all the well-worn and often photographed places without taking the time to explore the glory they might just have hurried by) and you’ll have to work hard, but there are many beautiful images to be found if you take the time to patiently seek them out.

The landscape changes often with Goatfell the highest point and an undulating , mostly narrow and curving road around the coast with ‘The String’ connecting Blackwaterfoot to Broddick through the middle of Arran – will get you around the island as long you’re not in too much of hurry.

Corrie and Whiting Bay on the east, Kildonan and Blackwaterfoot on the west plus the walk to Glen Rosa are all cracking places to visit. I enjoyed my visit so much that I intend to go again as soon as I can.

Advice to young photographers from a master of photography.

“If you’re young and have the time, go and study. Study anthropology, sociology, economy, geopolitics. Study so that you’re actually able to understand what you’re photographing. What you can photograph and what you should photograph.”

Sebastião Salgado

 

Much has been written and discussed regarding the work and career of Sebastiao Salgado – take the time to listen to him and form your own opinion. If you haven’t watched Wim Wenders’ ‘Salt of the Earth’ documentary then please do. I doubt very much you will be disappointed.

Location – Location

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Apart from your skills and technique – a great way to come back with super shots is to carefully consider you location and when you should be there. http://www.tidetimes.org.uk/ – check when the tides will be right – don’t take any chances!

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a great tool to help you plan your shoot and is available for most Smart Phones and the iPad.

http://www.photoplaces.co.uk/ is newish web-site for photographers to share locations and ideas – a lot of the info is, at present, English based but I’m sure this will be added to.

Others offering info and help are: http://www.iesmith.net/location-guide.html

Remember that you don’t have to go ‘location bagging’ and visit all the places that have been well photographed before. There are many, many fantastic places to be explored – and many of them are on or not far from your own doorstep!

Sometimes a little-explored and unglamorous part of the coast can offer great shots – take your camera and tripod and explore.

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