Landscape Photographer Scotland - Day 1
As a landscape photographer Scotland, on a personal shoot I will start planning about six months to a year in advance by looking at 500px and Stuck on Earth for inspiration, then moving on to Google Earth to see which locations are close by each other.
The position of the sunrise and sunset will determine what month of the year the sun will be in the ideal position in relation to mountains, lochs etc. The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) is one of the best apps that I know of, for this information, giving accurate sunrise and sunset times with a graphical display of the given landscape.
Though the weather forecast will be the deciding factor.
The camera equipment that I recommend using is your camera that will give you the largest file size (if you are going to sell prints) with the least amount of sensor noise, a steady tripod, remote shutter release, ND filter (number of stops dependent on how much you want to slow the shutter speed), polarizing filter and the smallest backpack that will hold the above.
Find suitable accommodation close to the shoot locations, at very least the sunrise locations.
Personal shoot on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
The alarm is set for an early start (5:00am) as there is a six hour drive from where I live just south of Glasgow to the hotel in the Isle of Skye. The early start will mean that I will miss the morning rush hour, and arrive at my destination with time to check the next mornings locations for the sunrise shoot.
The route that I will be taking is to the south of Glasgow passing through Paisley, then onto the M8 and over the Erskine Bridge, Loch Lomond heading north to Crainlarach. Then across Ranoch Moor to Glencoe, keeping an eye for possible photo locations to stop at on the return journey. Still heading north from Glencoe to Fort William where we stop for a coffee and a short break. Then head north again then west to Kyle of Lochalsh to cross the Skye Bridge, arriving at the Duisdale House Hotel, Isle of Skye, where we are staying for the next two nights. The receptionist informed us that it would be about one hour until our room will be ready, so it was back in the car and head off to find the first of three possible locations for the sunrise shoot the next morning. The first location around the jetty at Ornsay looked possible. One internet i had seen that it was possible to see the lighthouse on the Isle of Ornsay, which is not possible from the jetty area. On route to the second location less than one mile along the coast we spotted the lighthouse through a gap between two apartment blocks.
When packing the car boot (trunk) earlier that morning I had deliberately packed my camera bag last, just incase I needed it before we had checked-in at the hotel. Car parked close- by, just off the single track road, it was easy to access the camera body and lens that I wanted. The distance to lighthouse was reading at close to infinity and the mountains were at least twice that again, so I opted for the longest lens that I have a 70-200 and X2 multiplier, this would make the lighthouse fill more of the frame and compress the distance between the lighthouse and the mountains. It was at this point that I realized that my tripod, which I would need, was not next to the camera bag but packed deep in the boot and access to it would require the removal of 50% of the boot's contents.
You might be wondering what and how much did I pack. As the weight and dimension restrictions are more relaxed when traveling by car, we take more than we need and some things that's not possible on a flight from Scotland. All camera equipment in one large bag, except tripod!!, one suitcase (large enough for clothes, toiletries, chargers etc for two people for 5 days), one pair of Welles (waterproof rubber boots, knee high) might need these tonight and two sun loungers more about these in day 4.
How I got this shot of the lighthouse with my choice of camera and lens set-up. Not that difficult, my wife Jean is about 7" shorter than me, so with Jean standing in front of me, both of us looking at the lighthouse, I could steady the lenshade on her shoulder while I held the camera body.
Upon reaching the second location this proved to be ideal, very little had changed from when the google earth image had been taken, firm ground just off the single trackroad suitable for parking and an unrestricted view across the Sound of Sleat, this would be the spot to capture the sunrise tomorrow morning.
Convinced that I was set on the second location we headed back to the main road passing the third possible location and onto Armadale about 3 miles away for lunch. The small village of Armadle is also the ferry terminal for the Caladonian MacBraynes crossing from Mallaig on the mainland of Scotland. On the left hand side as you approach the ferry parking lanes is a lone building selling handmade jewelery and beautiful canvas prints of many of the photogenic locations on the Isle of Skye. These images are the work of Grumpy George http://www.grumpygeorge.co.uk from capture to framing, who is likely to be found around the pier area photographing the pets of the people waiting on the ferry. Grumpy George, though I don't know where the "grumpy" comes from, I found very helpful in sharing the locations and times that he had captured his images, many of which I will need to save for my next visit.
After lunch at the pier we headed back to the hotel via the village of Ord (one of George's locations). The Duisdale House Hotel is a small family run hotel and does not have 24 hour reception, as my plans for tonight and tomorrow morning might fall out with the receptions operating times it is wise to check if I need an additional key.
Tonight's sunset shoot will be at Elgol with a view across Loch to the Black Cuillin Mountains. Elgol is about an 1 1/2 hours drive away according to my TomTom satnav from the hotel.
That night after our meal we set off, our route taking us through Broadford and then on a single track road to Elgol. The plan was to arrive about 45 minutes before sunset, as the car park was close-by. The journey on the single track road took longer than estimated, not due to the amount of traffic, but rather the flocks of sheep which roam freely and the blind summits (steep incline immediately followed by steep decline) on this road, that when you are at the top all you can see through the front windscreen (windshield) is the sky. Our delayed arrival at Elgol ment that there was no time to look for an alternative shooting position, it was grab the camera gear out of the car, change from my shoes to wellies (description above) cross the rocky shore and set-up, the colours in the sky were amazing as the sun set to the left of the Cuillin Mountains.
The light changed rapidly from sunset to twilight and then it was gone the exact conditions never to be repeated. The return journey back to the hotel took a little bit longer as you can imagine at the top of the blind summit headlights pointing skywards are of little use.