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This photo is a collection of work and play photos, or a photo diary from the last couple of months. Some may have appeared in your viddy before now, via Instagram.

This Photo was taken in the final weeks before Christmas, a slightly abortive family trip out into the forests near home. We took a path that had been taken back into the forest for want of regular use. For those of us who live in the Highlands, in December we live in the mountain’s shadow. It can feel quite sombre and subdued, so it’s important to get out for fresh air and whatever vitamin D is there.

This Photo was taken in the final weeks before Christmas, a slightly abortive family trip out into the forests near home. We took a path that had been taken back into the forest for want of regular use. For those of us who live in the Highlands, in December we live in the mountain’s shadow. It can feel quite sombre and subdued, so it’s important to get out for fresh air and whatever vitamin D is there.

This Photo is from the back of our local hill, looking over Newtonmore, a glorious family walk. Christmas eve was brighter. I’ve started using the 40mm Voitlander again for local stuff. It’s cranky but I love the colours, and a prime is good discipline.

This Photo is from the back of our local hill, looking over Newtonmore, a glorious family walk. Christmas eve was brighter. I’ve started using the 40mm Voitlander again for local stuff. It’s cranky but I love the colours, and a prime is good discipline.

This Photo is from the same walk, at dusk. I am slowly feeling out a photo project or series based around local birch trees called  The Silver Darlings . Birch are early colonisers, and support more UK wildlife than any other tree species bar Oak.

This Photo is from the same walk, at dusk. I am slowly feeling out a photo project or series based around local birch trees called The Silver Darlings. Birch are early colonisers, and support more UK wildlife than any other tree species bar Oak.

This Photo is another one I’m looking at with the same project in mind, but I don’t think it’s there yet. I like the shadows in this version but the highlights need something else. I remember when this branch came down last year. I like the way the woods have embraced the fall.

This Photo is another one I’m looking at with the same project in mind, but I don’t think it’s there yet. I like the shadows in this version but the highlights need something else. I remember when this branch came down last year. I like the way the woods have embraced the fall.

This photo was taken on a very damp workshop, while discussing tone. Although the subject here is very conventional, the exposure and processing reflect that conversation.

This photo was taken on a very damp workshop, while discussing tone. Although the subject here is very conventional, the exposure and processing reflect that conversation.

This Photo was taken on an old road above the new road. If you know your classic Scottish photography, you’ll know this spot. Conditions weren’t right for a straight ahead shot, so here’s a crop which I quite like. There are further crops possible inside this one.

This Photo was taken on an old road above the new road. If you know your classic Scottish photography, you’ll know this spot. Conditions weren’t right for a straight ahead shot, so here’s a crop which I quite like. There are further crops possible inside this one.

This Photo was taken as my student was looking in the opposite direction. I was aiming at the light, but I like the car in this photo just as much.

This Photo was taken as my student was looking in the opposite direction. I was aiming at the light, but I like the car in this photo just as much.

This photo, and the one below were taken in-between rain showers in Glen Etive, a powerful place.

This photo, and the one below were taken in-between rain showers in Glen Etive, a powerful place.

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This Photo was taken on the same workshop. I knew the river further down but this exact spot was new to me, and a real find. It’s one of 7 rivers that Dalness estate are looking to build Hydro on, which would be a total disgrace. I believe it’s our job to witness these places, and to tell others what we’ve seen, a controversial position for some. Anyway, conditions weren’t great this time, but I know where it is and will return and try and get a photo that does the place some kind of justice.

This Photo was taken on the same workshop. I knew the river further down but this exact spot was new to me, and a real find. It’s one of 7 rivers that Dalness estate are looking to build Hydro on, which would be a total disgrace. I believe it’s our job to witness these places, and to tell others what we’ve seen, a controversial position for some. Anyway, conditions weren’t great this time, but I know where it is and will return and try and get a photo that does the place some kind of justice.

This Photo is from the Cairngorms. I don’t think I’ve ever had great conditions here, and this is as close to a decent shot of the ridge as I’ve come. Suddenly, the angles slid into place, ‘landscape’ photography as movement.

This Photo is from the Cairngorms. I don’t think I’ve ever had great conditions here, and this is as close to a decent shot of the ridge as I’ve come. Suddenly, the angles slid into place, ‘landscape’ photography as movement.

This Photo and the one below were taken at the end of a fairly obscure ridge, in the north, in November, one section of which was particularly testing. File under  Vanishing Point . Since then it turns out that a new book may be happening, so this route warrants a return visit in more conventionally scenic conditions. There’s a good circuit to be completed around a haunted glen. I met a fox in the dark at the bealach.

This Photo and the one below were taken at the end of a fairly obscure ridge, in the north, in November, one section of which was particularly testing. File under Vanishing Point. Since then it turns out that a new book may be happening, so this route warrants a return visit in more conventionally scenic conditions. There’s a good circuit to be completed around a haunted glen. I met a fox in the dark at the bealach.

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This Photo and the two below were taken in well known spots near Aviemore at dawn and at dusk, to facilitate discussions on subject and abstraction. What are we aiming for when we take a photograph? What do we hope to achieve and what’s the best way of describing where we are? Most people come ready to ask those kind of questions, some less so, but it’s all good. Everyone’s answers are theirs.

This Photo and the two below were taken in well known spots near Aviemore at dawn and at dusk, to facilitate discussions on subject and abstraction. What are we aiming for when we take a photograph? What do we hope to achieve and what’s the best way of describing where we are? Most people come ready to ask those kind of questions, some less so, but it’s all good. Everyone’s answers are theirs.

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This photo and the one below were taken to facilitate a discussion on composition. Students will often be familiar with ‘the rules’ (thirds, leading lines and all that) but are often less sure how to play with or against them in the field. When the lochans are under ice, there’s more opportunities to work with curves, but even so, the pictures don’t take themselves. We have to move ourselves and the camera.  Teaching is about helping others to articulate what they ‘see’ and then make it happen on the ground.

This photo and the one below were taken to facilitate a discussion on composition. Students will often be familiar with ‘the rules’ (thirds, leading lines and all that) but are often less sure how to play with or against them in the field. When the lochans are under ice, there’s more opportunities to work with curves, but even so, the pictures don’t take themselves. We have to move ourselves and the camera.

Teaching is about helping others to articulate what they ‘see’ and then make it happen on the ground.

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This Photo and the one below are both local to me and taken in autumn, but in different places. More  Silver Darlings  to finish seems appropriate. This scene is a wood local to Grantown, the other is on the slopes of the Feshie Hills, which are regenerating as the deer numbers come under control. Photographing trees is an excercise in relationships and simplicity. Keeping complex things simple a life skill worth practicing as much as I possibly can!

This Photo and the one below are both local to me and taken in autumn, but in different places. More Silver Darlings to finish seems appropriate. This scene is a wood local to Grantown, the other is on the slopes of the Feshie Hills, which are regenerating as the deer numbers come under control. Photographing trees is an excercise in relationships and simplicity. Keeping complex things simple a life skill worth practicing as much as I possibly can!

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Thanks for stopping by

Cairngorm Commission

A few weeks back I took a call from an Edinburgh based photography library. “Could I do a shoot for HIE in the Cairngorms? Sure, when’s it for?” I asked. “Uh, today!” was the reply.

The brief was to showcase a few alternate winter activities in Strath Spey, given the unfortunate status of the Funicular right now. I took the call at about 10am and was photographing at the first of several sites by 12.30pm. I spent the following 2 days chatting to the public, sitting in muddy burns, bumping around in the back of Land Rovers and willing my pretty-swanky-but-nonetheless-landscape-orientated mirrorless camera to damn well hurry up and write that last burst to the card, already!

The commission was well supported on the ground by Cairngorm Mountain and Rothiemurcus Estate, and we had the time and space to photograph real people enjoying the surroundings, rather than just work with models, which tends to make for more authentic pictures. We also had great light for the second of the two days, just in the nick of time.

It’s been a while since I did one of these, and it was a pretty different assignment to my more usual environmental and mountain storytelling work, but I really enjoy the people side of photography and it was lovely to meet more of the local people running small businesses, who live and work in the National Park - we’re neighbours, after all.

I’ve had a couple of people wrinkle their noses when I mentioned this piece of work, but… I met biologists working out of Landmark (the butterfly house, shown in the last photo below) and rope access experts for the Treetops activity at Inverdruie (the first pictures). Clay pigeon shooting isn’t my thing personally, but it’s far more sustainable than some of the neighbouring estates running driven grouse and pheasant. Apparently, they are moving over to 100% biodegradable clays as of next year… so you live and learn.

Here’s a small selection from nearly 300 photos that made the cut.


Cold comfort

12 photos from an overnight visit to four Munros in the Ullapool area, a pilgrimage to the Northwest for the first snows of the season, and my first camp since Spain, well over a month before. What I appreciated most of all was the silence and solitude, which save for the chatter of an occasional Ptarmigan, reigned complete. A bath of cold silence, enveloping, renewing, an implacable space to empty my own chattery head.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. Here’s more information on the workshops in Scotland and Spain


Soggy bottom boys

I have a feature in the September 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors, about a journey I haven't really mentioned here, so this is as good a time as any to share a few extra photos. Here's a fancypants quote from near the surprise end to whet your appetite...

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We floated in space, among the multi-coloured galaxies of a NASA photograph. The airless vacuum beneath our boats was so dense with life that we moved without splashing, pulling our way gently though this universe of water and timing our paddle strokes to avoid contact.  

 

 

Richard, David and I set off from Beasdale, paddled Lochs Morar and Nevis and finished in Inverie. It was a WET trip and there was plenty of squelchy walking and camping. The route choice was a little arbitrary and planned on the hoof to accommodate the weather, but in retrospect it's a pretty classic 3 or 4 day paddling route. Using the postie path along Loch Morar, and the crossing point at Tarbet (literally, gaelic for portage) is exactly how some of our forebears would have cut about the place... just with less expensive toys. Our train back was a local diesel, but if you timed it right, you could even return by steam train and keep the old skool atmosphere going right to the end.

Looking through these, I'm feeling all nostalgic for a wet bum and the shivers again. Now that normal Scottish summertime has resumed, a reprise is overdue.

Click/swipe to navigate. Thanks for taking a look.