Monday, 6 October 2014

Allan Wright - Skye 2014

Skye is big on the landscape photography map, it has a worldwide reputation for being spectacular, so in some ways it is surprising it has taken me almost 30 years to get round to "having a go" myself. I confess I had been put it off because I was daunted by its magnitude and reputation, in effect deferring the task to a time when I could do it justice and so I took 18 days this August to see what I could come up with.

My initial reaction was of shock as I drove over the Skye Bridge and found myself in the midst of an ad hoc convoy of 19 camper vans (from which I did a sharp harp exit at Kyleakin). It got worse, the whole place was bursting at the seams with tourists, roads were chokka and parking chaos at the main attractions was insane. I was not prepared for this and quickly acknowledged that in terms of dear old Galloway's quest for tourism growth, I was heard muttering to myself on Galloway's behalf to "be careful what you wish for!"

What also struck me hard though was just how compulsive visitors are these days about taking photos, it seems an insatiable reflex has entered the human condition. I confess I am a little bemused by this, everything seems to be a potential subject with cameras instinctively brandished without hesitation. Maybe this abundant snapping is because Scotland is so stunning and people are heightened in their enthusiasm and expectation, I feel an urge to engage with folk to find out what drives them and how they see the end product being used ? I am genuinely curious to see where this photo mania is leading us.

On the other hand I was also struck by the plethora of photographers actively promoting themselves as fine art photographers through their real time and online galleries visible throughout Skye, in fact someone even told me there were upwards of 40 photographers presenting themselves as professionals. I am I confess staggered by the popularity of photography and the ease with which many have evolved themselves from the status of amateur into "professional". I have on occasion found myself cautioning enthusiastic amateurs to consider the true meaning of the word amateur - i.e. from the old French "lover of" and that the pure uncorrupted passion felt from the act of producing images is to be revered and that the step into commercialisation does not come without risks at least in terms of a potential loss of that early passion.

The logistics and planning involved in successful landscape work are numerous but here is quick resume of a few; tides, angle of sun, cloud style, humidity, season, time of day, aspect, access, mapping, safety, fitness, equipment, market potential, patience, ferry times, let alone camera and post production technique etc ..... these all more or less play their part. Photographing Skye had these issues in abundance, an OS map and up to the minute i phone weather reports along with a readiness to drive huge mileages were absolutely crucial. I had an amazing time I admit but on reflection I scarcely had a minute to myself during the 18 days. I hope to show more of my Skye images in a series of blogs and share some of my experiences in the coming weeks but meantime I have chosen 4 images that seem on the face of it to be more or less spontaneous but in reality were underpinned by a combination of many factors.

I plan to offer a series of 6 blogs about my experiences of Skye over the coming weeks with associated images & their background stories.

Stormy shore and cliffs at Staffin with lone explorer
Point of Sleat with Eigg & Rum on horizon
Looking South from Neist Point to Waterstein Head & Moonen Bay
Toskavaig, sunset and my travelling home

Allan Wright


  1. How brave of you to endure 18 days on Skye during the height of the season, it has got so overcrowded I liken it to the English Lake District and worse still there is an ongoing campaign to open up the airport at Broadford to commercial aviation !

    The only chance an early bird has of capturing a worm is stictly off season and even then it's difficult to get anywhere to enjoy a moment of solitutude at what are some amazing locations on the Island.

    I would reccommend the chippy at Broadford, that's the one that does not advertise the fact that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall once served up fish and chips there unlike the one in Portree with its premium prices to boot.

    Sometimes Skye is better appreciated from afar.

    1. Thanks Derek - It was a challenge at times but there are aways ways round things and I did meet lovely people though some of whom were clearly being processed - I am amazed how much visitors try to pack in to a 10 day tour of Scotland! Planning to return later this month to get a different texture to work with!