on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Postcards from Scotland

A Busman's Holiday

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Our Autumn holidays in Scotland are always a gamble. Is there going to be any decent weather? Is there going to be any autumnal colour? Well the odds on the first can be pretty good as the only really bad weather is full on rain and gales but a bit of sun in between the clouds usually helps. As for the second, it's a chance and very hard to predict - especially six months in advance when we book our holiday. We've had -10 deg C and snow with bare trees in October and this year we've got 10 deg C and just a spattering of amber leaves - and most of those from the false autumn.

However the weather has been quite mild and we started the week with a trip to Rannoch Moor's Loch Ba for sunrise followed by a wander around hills behind Loch Tulla accompanied by cloudless skies and then back to Rannoch Moor for sunset.

The next day we had David and Angie Unsworth as company and walked up to the Lost Valley where we watched deer run laps around the end of the valley, bringing disappointment to a few climbers who rightly decided that it wasn't worth confronting five horny stag and their considerable hareem. On the way back down the last rays of the sun lit up Anoch Eagach and a quick handheld shot captured the moment.

Another morning on Rannoch Moor at Lochan Na h'Achlaise with David Unsworth proved that it's still a stunning location despite it's lack of iconic tree. The light and microclimated combined with the rocky pools and stunning flora compensate for having to put up with one of the west coasts busiest roads being within a few yards.

After saying goodbye to the Unsworths we returned to a favourite location behind Kinlochleven - ignore the pipes walk and sneak through the back of the housing estate to the other side of the valley where the river cuts through stunning geology that competes with Glen Etive but with a classically Scottish forest surrounding the whole.

The weather looks like it's setting in a bit over the next few days but when you see the cloud symbol combined with both a raindrop and a glowing sun you know you've got some dramatic days ahead. We plan to cross the ferry to Ardnamurchan where we'll look at Ariundle and Salen woods, walk up Glen Etive and Glen Nevis, return to Kinlochleven and the Lost Valley and more over the next few days. If it's really bad we'll just take out the brolley and wander around Ballachulish slate quarry. Whatever the weather there is always something and it's just good to be out with the camera.

Until next issue!


p.s. These pictures were taken with a Sony A900 but post processing using lightroom and the VSCO film emulation plugins. I didn't use them to recreate film though, instead flicking through them until something caught my eye that suited the subject and then used this as a starting point, sometimes layering the result with the original image and mixing them in Photoshop. More about the technique, and more photos, in the next issue.

Hills above Loch Tulla


Most people tend toward the classic Scots Pine at the end of the forestry enclosures but if you park up and walk above the road the grasses and trees make for a stunning, archetypal scottish woodland.

Aonach Eagach from the Lost Valley


Walking back from the Lost Valley, a break in the clouds allowed the last light of the day to light up the end of the ridge line and the clouds behind. The half silhouetted birch provided a frame and interest.

Loch Ba Twilight

On the Drive back from Loch Tulla the wonderful earth shadow provided a wonderful backdrop for Loch Ba. The only problem is a lack of elevation. If you shoot from the road the trees get in the way (and you get run over!). Perched on the roof of a campervan solves the problem although it's little hairy when the big wagons fly by at 80mph! (p.s. click here for a the full version)


Lochan Reflections

It may be a cliche location and the erosion from a thousand photographers boots and constant drone of cars can be a little off putting but when the conditions are good all of these things can be ignored and the creative photographer could spend a lifetime producing original work.


Kinlochleven Watersmeet

At the back of Kinlochleven you can walk behind the housing estate and will eventually reach the meeting of two rivers and some stunning exposed geology. Two birch trees had been washed downstream and rested against these rocks and I felt an ode to David Ward's vortex compositions was in order.


Back to Kinlochleven

We walked to the Blackwater Reservoir and as we returned the clouds descended. This was about half way back and the streaks of birch couldn't be ignored.



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