on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

End Frame: ‘High Light’ by Colin Prior

Nils Leonhardt chooses one of his favourite images

Nils Leonhardt

Life is a collection of moments. And a photographer is the agent who has the power to capture these situations. In the second he portrays the light the moment is already gone. The mechanism and indeed art of photography aims to interrupt the constant progress of change that is life in order to create long-lasting memories. It always involves subjective judgement about the situation at hand. I am simply an ordinary photographer who is in love with natural light.


I don’t think that Colin Prior (watch Colin's presentation at the Meeting of Minds Conference 2018) needs an introduction to anybody with a certain degree of interest in landscape photography. And surely not to the profound readership of On Landscape. Hence, I consider the opportunity to express my feelings towards his unrivalled body of work a true honour.

The chosen photograph shows the mountains of Assynt, Scotland, on a wintery evening. In this image, you can see how wonderful evening light accentuates the peaks of Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, Cùl Mòr and Cùl Beag. The illumination seems to be one of these special theatre lights that bath the actors on a stage. It is a photograph in which light is a tangible character thanks to its presence on the mountains. It is a true frame of genius, and exemplary for all his stunning 3:1 panoramic work. Browsing through his Magnum Opus “Scotland’s Finest Landscapes”, any photo would deserve to be exhibited here. Let us just regard this particular image as a metaphor for his masterful skill to capture a unique moment in time – his rare ability to understand nature and all contextual elements which are part of these huge canvases.

Colin can arguably be considered the reference when it comes to ultra-perfectionism in landscape photography. This is not only because of his extraordinary attention to composition. Beyond that, it is his perception of light and how it interacts with the natural world which results in images that have an almost tangible, dynamic feel. Moreover, what is striking is his capability to capture the authentic spirit of place, and by doing so, his place within that place. He offers some of the most natural interpretations of a landscape. And, as we all know, this is so hard to achieve. Par excellence, nature opposes any means of control. And that includes arranging elements. We need to move around to organise chaos and transform nature into the beautiful composition that awakens in our mind. Studying his images with care makes you realise what is important in landscape photography, and what is indeed trivial.

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