On the road

I’ve been neglecting my blog this last while, but I’ve a good excuse, at least I think it is. I’m crap at blogging and I’ve been taking loads of hope fully great photo’s, that’s what I do. Making the most of the Highland’s stunning locations and lonnnggggg days during summer and now Autumn, so I’ll be trying to get things moving more often on the Blog, with news from shoots locations and other garble. Promise


The trouble with digital

Options, the more we have the harder it gets. Digital post production can be fickle with too many options and opportunities to stuff it up. Can’t get the colour right? looks too digital? too sharp? over done? etc. I recently had a discussion with a fellow photographer about the tribulations of digital capture. Just because we have instant gratification doesn’t mean the job is any easier. In fact in some ways it gets a whole lot harder. Getting colour right is not just a matter of kicking up the saturation and playing about with the colour balance slider. You need to have knowledge of the subtleties of colour and some idea of the look and feel of where you are trying to get to. 

Peoples expectations of Photoshop as a quick fix can be a little high. A great image starts in camera but you are now the color lab and the printer and have to make the extra decisons to finish the job. You have to decide what looks right and what looks wrong. There’s a fine line between creating finished print that has subtle balanced “clean” colour and one that has been hit over the head with a hammer. Shooting Raw means you have to make all the decisions about saturation, levels,  removing casts and cleaning up colour palate in general. Less is more. 

I tend to use a combination of tools and like any tool it has to be mastered. Colour balance, saturation, selective colour, replace colour, Lab colour and RGB curves used in combination with a goal in mind will yield better results  every time. Don’t rely on one single sweep of the mouse. Over sharpening is another one of the biggest mistakes people make. It’s no wonder “some” photographers can’t stand the sight of a digital print when most of the work they view has been over done. There are no hard and fast rules to get the perfect sharpening result. It depends on the type of image , the print media ,size of the file and file format. It’s a Jungle out there in Photoshop land and you have to know your way around other wise you will get frustrated and disappointed with your results. The Digital darkroom is a powerful and creative tool and unlike the “wet darkroom” you don’t need to fumble about in the dark so take your time and hold back a bit. You will and can get fantastic results you just need to learn to take control of colour  and use it creatively and sharpen subtly. It can look as good as film if not better. 

I shoot two types of image digitally. One has a fair amount of creative post production applied and that is my intention. It’s not cheating or manipulation it’s a thought out creative process and my interpretation of a subject. The other is when the subject is best left alone and best represents the scene as it is with minimal post production. As close as it can get to being there. Both these processes are legitimate. In the words of Richard Avedon “all photographs are accurate, none of them is the truth”. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which image is which. 

Liathach and Loch Clair, Torridon

The Abby, Isle of Iona

This isn’t about film vs digital (that argument for most is dead and buried) I love shooting both film and digital, and one is never in competition with the other, at the capture stage the mental process is pretty much the same it’s just the technology that differs.

Mull Island Odyssey

I just spent 4 fantastic days on the Isles of Mull, Iona and a shortbut choppy trip out to Staffa. Known for it’s wild coastline, wildlife and varied scenery I spent the first night wild camping by Calgary bay.

took this shot at dusk, before bedding down for a cold but clear peaceful night. Up at 04;45 am and drove round to Tobermory and a 30 minute walk to catch first light at the nearby lighthouse. An Otter joined me while I was setting up for this shot!

I set again and made my way to The Ross of Mull and Iona. Travelling via Salen I passed these worn out, tired looking fishing boats nestled against each other. Well photographed, these boats in good soft light conatin some great hues and almost seem alive!

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Frozen nuts in Glen Coe!

Glen Coe finally came up with the goods. After several attempts at capturing “the Buachaille” in  some good light, I was gifted some chilly weather (-10) on my Birthday at 6am when I fell out of my frozen tent and set about taking some shots. The first was just on sunset ( back lit – some help from Raw capture) and second in the morning as the sun struck the top of the mountain.

Buachaille Etive Mor – Glen Coe

More to come………

Skye workshop images

Some late winter snow and fantastic light provided perfect conditions for the February winter landscapes workshop. These wonderful images were taken by some of the participants, a big thank you to them for taking the challenging  icy conditions on Storr head-on.

Mikes fantastic shot of the Cuillin and the Fairy Pools.

Andrew created some drama with this shotof Mike and I “on the edge”  near the Quiraing.

Nicks image of the Old Man of Storr in  early morning winter light.

Some of my shots from the weekend,  Talisker Bay sunset, The Old man and Duntulm beach



Exhibition time!!

A selection of images from Assynt, Inverpolly and Skye will be on show at the Gallery in Ullapool later next month for six weeks. Photographed over the last few months the images will be limited editions of 50, printed on fine art archival paper  and be available for purchase.

Cul Mor with Cul Beag.  Just one of the images that will be featured at the exhibition

Eden Court Arts Program

Loch Assynt Caledonian Pines (12 mm lens, f16, .6 ND grad) taken yesterday.

This spring I’m running a series of short workshops as part of Eden Courts Arts program, the first sessions “Master your camera” have sold out but there are still some places available for the Digital Photography Summer school. This series will feature a digital photography intro, composition and looking into capturing that illusive magic light. I’ll also be offering a series of weekend mini-workshops around Inverness with Lightstalkers Scotland :-)).