I was about to start my fourth assignment on “Light” when I had a trip to Scotland and the Western Iles. I decided that rather than attempt to do any of the exercises whilst I was away I would experiment with “light” in particular but with any photographic opportunities that came to hand and try to recap on what I had learnt in the first three assignments.
When I arrived in Scotland the light on the first day was generally disappointing and the photos uninteresting but there were occasionally glimpses of sunlight which lifted the photos.
Without the reflection in the water the landscape of Loch Lomond with sky would not have been very interesting but I feel the blue mixed with the grey water makes the photo.
In this second photo I was attempting photos of Loch Long but there the landscape was very dark and uninteresting until I spotted a pool of light catching bluebells on the hillside and the colour made for an interesting photo.
I also liked the accent of the white house (above) which made the photo more interesting then just the field of bluebells (see below).
Through the stunning scenery of Glen Coe the light again was not favourable until there was a temporary breakthrough of the sun – the difficulty was judging where to place the horizon. I decided that from this position the sky was the more interesting aspect and that the valley floor was less interesting.
However, in this second image of Glen Coe the valley floor becomes more interesting with the introduction of the water and the road both of which leads the eye into the image.
In Skye we again had poor light so with this following photo I have introduced an accent (the white church) and (in Lightroom with the adjustment brush) have increased the exposure slightly and increased the shadow slider and the highlights to make the white church stand out more but still leave the skies in the distance unchanged.
Still on Skye the next morning there was low cloud and so I tried to get beneath it and use the white of the water to collect light. I don’t particularly like water shots with silky water so left the shutter speed at 1/200th to retain some sharpness.
As we left Skye for Harris I tried capturing the colour of the gorse and had all sorts of dilemnas of composition. In the end I feel this was the best as, although I did not capture the strong yellows of the gorse (which I did when we were closer to it) the photo is more interesting with the contrast of the colours and the accents of the white houses.
On arrival in the Outer Hebrides the light was not particularly good. In the evening I tried to get some interesting skies but there was nothing of interest. However, I chose this following photo because I liked the textures. I tried using the rule of thirds to position the oystercatcher but it never seemed to work and so I left it in the middle of the photo which allowed the textures of the pebbles to dominate.
The textures of the pebbles were indeed the most interesting aspect of this photo opportunity especially as I could lift the exposure, the contrast and the whites in Lightroom.
Just as I was giving in I managed to get a vaguely interesting photo from the horizon.
Back at the hotel, which I thought didn’t have the most interesting of aspects, the sky became more interesting and in the end I did think this photo had interest.
With the light almost gone I snatched one last photo which had little or no interest until I experimented and added a blue filter.
My first full day in the Outer Hebrides and the light was very grey again and so I felt I had to try and get interesting aspects of the island. With this next photo I think I have captured an artefact (the stone circle) that appears all over the island and have shown other important aspects such as the bog, the lakes, always the closeness of the coast, and houses that are typical of the island.
Again at the Butt of Lewis the light was not helpful and so I have experimented with this photo of the mainland coast by reducing the clarity and increasing dramatically the whites and lifting the contrast as well as experimenting with filters.
I wanted to try some wildlife photographs. There was plenty of opportunities to photograph gulls but the difficulty was having to use long lenses with a tripod in Britain’s windiest point (The Butt of Lewis) and, although conditions were relatively calm, I still had difficulty keeping the camera still even when I had weighed down the tripod.
The nesting fulmars presented interesting composition amongst the thrift:
The herring gulls and their chicks needed lots of patience as the chicks would only appear momentarily:
I worked on panning techniques for the following two photos and, although I had lots of failures at first I did get better at it.
But what I wanted to work on was the use of light. In the evening I travelled to the Calanais stones as I had seen photographs of these with interesting light. However the light was disappointing and so I have experimented with different techniques and filters in Lightroom and Photoshop.
In this photo I have added an aspect (the lone photographer) to add interest.
This was the best of the skies I could achieve (taken from the Calanais Stones):
With this next photo I tried adding a different viewpoint with the tourist pointing and taking your eye away from the stones.
With this next photo I used a wide angle lens, not so much to get all of the cove in to the picture, but to capture the big skies which were so much part of my experience in Lewis>
With this next image I feel I captured some of the history of the island (Black houses) and still kept my emphasis on big and interesting skies.
I particularly wanted to portray some aspects of Lewis that had made an impression on me:
The following demonstrates the flat of the land and I believe the plain sky adds to this. I also think the accents created by the tractor and the stones works well as does the line of the telegraph posts :
I wanted to bring in the hills of the south but retain the impression of the flatness of this part of the island, but I felt I needed to add something extra so incorporated the line of the posts to improve the image.
I was very taken by the washing lines throughout this part of the island and I thought this photo was an interesting way to show how windy and exposed this part of the world is.
As I wanted to work on “light” I felt I needed to capture the setting sun at some point. There was only one evening left to do so and yet I felt, even though I wasn’t in the right place, I had to take any opportunity. Nonetheless, I was quite pleased with the effect of the silhouettes in this photo as I left Stornoway.
The sun was setting as I drove back and I wasn’t going to reach the coast so again I had to take what opportunity I could. At first I thought the telegraph poles would spoil the sunset but when I processed the photos I felt that they added an extra interest and were evocative of the island.
My final day on Lewis and the light was disappointing. I tried different landscapes and tried working on textures too.
However, my frustration was overcome when I spotted a golden eagle. I then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to capture some images. I managed to find the eagle’s nest and even spotted a chick in the nest. However, not wanting to disturb the eagle I kept my distance and satisfied myself with these images.
Later on my walk I even managed to photograph the eagle returning from hunting with some prey, but I was quite some way away.
At the end of my walk I managed to “lift” this photo (with dull light) by the addition of an accent of the lone person walking on the beach.
As we left The Outer Hebrides very early the next morning I managed a shot with effective use of light – the morning sun catching just small sections of the landscape.
…and a final landscape with early morning sun on the hills:
… and which I think looks better here with selective editing (adding punch and lightening the white house by improving the highlights).