Monday, 6 July 2015

Tom Langlands - About Tern

As the saying goes - every cloud has a silver lining. That proved to be the case recently when Allan Wright, Roger Lever and I, all from the Galloway Photographic Collective, headed off on a long planned trip to St Kilda, the most westerly part of the British Isles. After a long journey from Dumfries and Galloway to Uig on Skye and then over on the ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris we headed down the west coast of Harris only to be confronted by seas you could have surfed in! We had a boat booked in Leverburgh on the south of Harris to take us over to St Kilda the following morning. The gods had other plans! The weather threw everything at us and looking out over the rather large swell of the Atlantic to the distant speck that was St Kilda I was glad - in a strange, sea-sickness kind of way - that the skipper of the boat announced he couldn't take us out on account of the weather.

Rather than waste the trip we decided to do what photographers do and spend a few days taking photographs around Harris. It was a slow start and with the weather hitting us with everything it was hard to get motivated. My passion is nature and wildlife photography and there wasn't much wildlife showing in the cold, strong winds and rainy squalls.

Slightly disheartened on the wildlife front we took a walk along a deserted Harris beach and encountered a group of arctic terns soaring, diving and engaging with each other in the sky overhead. This was what I had been looking for. It was great fun and also a challenge.

The birds moved fast in flight and when they engaged with each other it tended to be quick bursts of action that weren't easy to capture. There were also exposure problems with the very bright sky and I wanted to keep the birds white and bright reflecting their distinctive arctic-white plumage.

I tried hard to capture the poetic and balletic interaction between the birds.

All in all, it was not the trip that had been planned but it certainly wasn't a wasted journey by any means.

Tom Langlands

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