24 Jan 2015

Extreme Scotland

I spend last week running my Scottish Highlands in Winter workshop during one of the most extreme periods of weather so far this winter! We started with severe gales, which cut off the power across the whole of the Isle of Skye. The first couple of days were very wet, making it almost impossible to take photographs, so we spent a bit of time exploring Glencoe and then exploring Photoshop techniques in the dry! The high winds had brought down many trees and also ruined a lovely little shed in Glen Etive that was the feature of many photographs. The snow didn't begin until we reached Skye, and even then it was more sleet than snow. Photographing a landscape covered in patchy snow is a frustrating experience - I would much rather have either complete snow cover or no snow at all! However, at higher altitudes there was plenty of snow and we made the most of it where we could.

The Quiraing provided some nice opportunities before the snow arrived

The hike up to The Needle was a challenge in gale force winds!

Although for much of the trip we had quite changable weather with sunshine and heavy showers, the sun rarely shone where we wanted it to. On the more overcast days we concentrated on black and white landscapes.

I'm getting to know this old boat quite well and it's essential to get there when the tide is in the right position.

Neist Point Lighthouse at dusk

The dusting of snow on the mountains was nice, but we tried to find locations where the patchy snow at lower levels wouldn't spoil our compositions

From midweek onwards the snow and sleet showers increased on the Isle of Skye. It melted quickly at lower levels, but in the higher hills and mountains it continued to build up. When climbing up to The Storr in the dark one morning we were trudging through thigh deep snow with no discernable path to follow. It's at times like this that a powerful headtorch is invaluable!

A 5am start, a one hour drive, a two hour walk and three hours standing in freezing temperatures waiting for the sun to break through finally resulted in some nice atmospheric images of The Old Man of Storr

As always, a day trip north towards Torridon was worthwhile

A couple of trips to Elgol were rewarded with nice light at the end of the day

On our return to the mainland we encountered a lot more snow, especially up around Rannoch Moor where the minor roads were only accessible by 4X4. This didn't stop people in Mercs and BMWs from trying to drive down them though....we had to drag a few out of the way to enable us to reach our locations!

The fresh snow and ice around Buachaille Etive Mor made for some great wintry scenes

A two-minute exposure on Rannoch Moor at the end of the day - followed by a ten-hour drive home!

My 2016 Scottish Highlands in Winter workshop is already provisionally full, but please register your interest for 2017! I'm now off to Slovenia to run my winter landscape workshop over there. I'm hoping for plenty more of the white stuff but it seems that it may be confined to the mountaintops this time.

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