Real winters have become an unreliable occurrence, but of course all the more wonderful when they do appear. A hefty part of my job is producing calendar images which tradition demands contain archetypal wintery material. We have seen some lean years of late in this regard so when the chance arises I like to get going and stock up. Last week I set off to Skye via Glencoe. A critical component of this business is watching digital forecasts by the hour, often trying to second guess and plan the most efficient route for the best conditions, a high level of flexibility is de rigueur and plans can change by the hour.
First stop Glencoe and a visit to the classic Buachaille Etive Mor viewpoint. Eight thirty in the morning and there were only 4 other photographers on the job! Wonderfully bitterly cold and crunchy underfoot, it was joyful to be back at work after a dismal January trying to shake off a wretched flu virus. 1st shot in the bag, unoriginal composition I know, but you've got to start somewhere!
Possibly some sun on West of Skye next day pm so made sure I was at The Fairy Pools on time, but the sun never came, so commiserated with the half dozen or so other bereft snappers and invested in a more textural / mono style image. Perched on a rock beneath the harsh majesty of the Cuillins was edifying nonetheless, the cabin fever of the past weeks slipping away nicely.
Driving through the night to Highland Perthshire, where next morning I was promised a glorious combination of early mist, deep frost and bright sunshine, the most heavenly of combinations. Perthshire's landscape can be so dreamy in the way it combines so many elements and this morning it was truly on form. My heart raced as I frantically sought to park the truck and get stuck into this scene before it evaporated. Farmland between Kenmore & Tummel Bridge.
Glen Clova is the most prominent of the Angus Glens and I have made rather too many fruitless visits to it in the past so my resolve was I high as I planned this particular approach . A Bunkhouse overnight stay with a 6 o-clock rise got me into position for a direct hit from the sun from the South East. Very predictable scenario as the warm light spread down from the crests picking up the shapes and textures of the broad Glen. My only challenge was to get some subtle detail / texture into the foreground, it was all over in about 6-7 minutes, that'll do nicely thanks, back to the truck for a coffee brew, bit of a glow on now.
Stonehaven is starting to annoy me as a overnight stay, overpriced and under-supplied is how I would describe the accommodation on offer but I was determined to get a Dunnottar Castle sunrise in the bag as all looked well on the forecast. Only 5 other photographers on site, so it seems bitterly cold Sunday mornings do help keep the numbers down. The shot? OK I guess it's in the bag but a I was hoping for some mist or a wee bit more drama - next time maybe.
Arbroath, The Declaration of Arbroath is a declaration of Scottish independence, made in 1320 - just thought I would stick that in to jolly things along a bit. Famous also for the smoked Haddock or "smokie" My instinct was to revel in this symbol a bit and get a "working toon" image that has a whiff of tradition from inside the working harbour - here is what I came up with.
Heading South through a gloriously lit central Fife and on impulse I took a chance on maybe getting a shot of Glenrothes Town Centre. Thinking logically, high population centre, Fife calendar to produce - got to be worth a go. Words fail me in trying to describe this utterly exasperating experience, Glenrothes has no centre, there is absolutely nothing there apart from a shopping centre that goes on forever. How hard must it to add a heart to a new town when its being designed? Getting out of town and back on the M90 south was hideously difficult to boot. An hour and a half of my life I will never get back!
Hungry for some sort of productive closure to the day I took a stab at Culross, Fife, that fairy tale wee village with its oldest of vernacular "Fifey" style architecture, all NTS, listed & with cobbled streets. Alas I was too late, the light had gone and surprisingly there was no usable street lighting. What the heck, cranked up the ISO to 2500, did a little post production Photoshop work and hey presto I had my "sundowner".