Rolling hills, expansive lochs and snow-topped crags – four photographers share their favourite shooting locations across Scotland
COIGACH AND ASSYNT, HIGHLANDS
Colin Prior’s career stretches over thirty years and includes commissions for British Airways, CalMac and Talent Scotland. He is currently documenting Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, but reserves a special place for the landscapes of Coigach and Assynt in the west of Scotland.
“For the photographer,” he says, “its not just the diversity of shape and form but the spaces between them which make mountains such as Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and Cul Mor so appealing. The pinkish sandstone is very appealing particularly when captured at dusk and dawn when it often glows orange and red in the low sun.
“Stac Pollaidh gives an excellent viewpoint and overlooks Loch Sionascaig and to Suilven and Canisp beyond. It doesn’t take that much effort, with the aid of a head-torch, to climb up the excellent path to just below the summit in time to capture dawn. If you manage to do this in late September or early October, the silence will be broken by the roaring of stags and the sporadic but enigmatic go-back, go-back, go-back call of red grouse.”
LOCH SHIEL, LOCHABER
Those usually turn out to be the best images - the ones you have to make a few sacrifices to captureAndy Lock, Photographer
Professional photographer Andy Lock gave up his life as a graphic designer from Dorset a decade ago to live, in his words, “650 miles north on the wild, west coast of Scotland” with his Nikon D610.
With attractions such as Beinn Resipole, Glen Affric and Loch Lomond easily reached from his home near Loch Shiel, Andy recommends the location as one of the best photography locations in Scotland due to its natural beauty.
Andy said: “I had been waiting early in the morning for the mist to clear, originally looking to capture a photo across the Loch with the mist slowly clearing. Thanks to a few nights of heavy rainfall the water level of the loch was up higher than usual.
“As I worked my way around the edge of the water I caught sight of the reflection of the trees with their autumn colours reflecting amongst the tall grasses.
“The only way I could get into the perfect position was to go deeper than my boots were designed for and the water was freezing as it poured in over the top. But those usually turn out to be the best images – the ones you have to make a few sacrifices to capture.”
INVERGORDON FROM CROMARTY, HIGHLANDS
The spectacular dance of the Aurora Borealis has been captured several times by amateur photographer and Highland resident Graham Bradshaw. One photograph, included in this article, taken on October 7 last year, shows the colour range and high cloud ceiling of the natural electric phenomenon.
“I captured this image with a Nikon D7100 and a Tokina 12-24mm lens,” says Bradshaw. “Having lived in Avoch on the Black Isle for the last 15 years, I didn’t really want to put a lot of effort into a drive to a really remote place with no guarantee that I would see anything.
“I had found a spot on the north side of the Black Isle, just two miles outside Cromarty with an unobstructed view north over Alness, Invergordon and the oil rigs parked in the Firth. I was amazed by my first captures of the aurora. Looking back, they were pretty terrible and no thought was given to framing or getting the overall look of the photo. The exposure was all wrong too, but I was hooked!
“Fast forward two years, and I’ve seen the aurora many more times, from the tops of munros in the middle of the night, to the beaches of north coast of Scotland. However, when it comes to ease of access, and taking a chance on just capturing the lights ‘on the offchance’, I really can’t beat taking a 15 minute drive towards Cromarty or even Chanonry Point by Fortrose.”
Scotland’s hillwalking locations offer a wonderful backdrop for photography, especially when the weather is right. Scott Wilson, a violin teacher and amateur photographer from Aberdeenshire, demonstrates that you don’t need expensive kit to produce great photos. He tweaked the quality settings on his Sony smartphone to capture his image at dusk.
“As the sun was setting earlier and earlier throughout the month of September,” says Wilson, “I was caught off-guard without my camera and completely unpreprared for the glorious sunset emerging between the trees.
“I pulled out my phone and fiddled with the settings, and managed to increase the quality of the picture from 8 to 20.1 megapixels. The resulting photos is from the end of the shoot, and has a lot of detail in the clouds and the differentiation between the blues in the sky.”
ISLE OF MULL, INNER HEBRIDES
Pete Watt, the director of supercar club GT Scotland and avid car photographer, has seen much of Scotland’s rugged scenery from motoring tours across the nation. He is particularly drawn to Scotland’s western reaches, and the juxtaposition of land and sea that highlights the vastness of the Atlantic to the west of Scotland.
Watt said: “This is a viewpoint on the Isle of Mull; it’s on a lovely wee road which has views which unfurl corner after corner. I like the vastness of the scene, with the aggressively chiselled cliffs that face out against the ocean.
“They all form the intricate gateway to mainland Scotland and look like weather-torn triremes poised to carve through the calm water. To me, the added element of surprise in the picture is the foreground, which reveals the fact that the viewpoint is, itself, one of those towering cliffs.”