Monday, 22 August 2016

Tom Langlands - Three Hours on Lunga

Back in July I headed off with fellow Galloway Photographic Collective photographers - Roger Lever and Allan Wright - for a planned few days on the Treshnish Islands. This group of islands lies off the west coast of Mull with the largest of the group being the island of Lunga. The idea was to camp for a couple of nights and photograph the landscape, flora and fauna of this very special place. Unfortunately, after we pitched tents for an overnight stay on Mull, the vagaries of the Scottish weather presented us with a night of torrential rain. This was followed by one reasonable day of weather and then a further forecast of more heavy rain. We changed our plans and opted for a short three hour stay on Lunga and a visit to Fingal's Cave on Staffa.

As a wildlife photographer I like to explore areas in advance and although I had been to Lunga once before I couldn't be sure what to expect by way of bird life. This combined with the fact that the previous night of rain had left much of the island soaking wet with slippery paths didn't help the available options.

On the boat trip to Lunga I decided that rather than try to cover too many options I would opt for a small area of the island where I knew that there were accessible cliffs. It was a forty-five minute walk there and back and which left me with a little over two short hours to see what I could do. On this occasion there wasn't enough time to study flight directions, animal behaviour or sit and wait for 'something to happen'. This wasn't an ideal situation but I called upon my reserves of knowledge to concentrate on a couple of species and two specific locations. The main thing I wanted, was to get clean backgrounds in order to show off the birds in the images. My first shot was a statuesque shag with the distant backdrop of clear blue water.

Because the light was quite harsh at times I sought out a shaded area of cliffs with almost black backgrounds. This was to be my location for some kittiwake photography. It proved to be the best fun of the short time I had but also the most challenging. I opted for some adult bird shots, some juveniles from this year's brood and also some in-flight photography. The black backgrounds and the white of the birds made for some tricky exposures but I like to think that I got there in the end.

In next to no time we had to head back to the boat and I finished the trip off with a couple of puffin shots. With the bright summer, afternoon light I opted to get down very low and shoot through the yellow, flowering heads of the plants along the clifftops. It was a momentary glimpse of summer in what was a very wet few days.

Tom Langlands

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