Nuns With Guns!

Last week I set out on a bit of a photography road trip.  I didn’t really know where I was going, just a vague notion to head North to somewhere unfamiliar.  The weather was a bit overcast when I left home, but that didn’t bother me as I’m not one of those photographers who insists that sunrise & sunset is the only light worth shooting in.  To me, that attitude is far too limiting.  I don’t only experience the places I visit at those times, and I want to make images that capture what it was like and how I felt being there.  I’m also fascinated by weather and the power of nature, so I think an image of a cloudy grey day can be just as successful as a stunning sunset if it conveys the feeling of being there in the moment.

My first stop was at Loch Lomond, just North of Tarbet.  Despite being cloudy it was quite still and warm.  In fact, warm enough to tempt a couple of Europeans who turned up to go skinny dipping at the rocks just along the shore from my position.  Blokes sadly.  

I found a composition I liked using some rocks leading into the scene looking down the loch. I decided to try a couple of hand held shots with the Lensbaby while the other camera was busy on the tripod with some long exposures.  I actually liked the lensbaby effect on the composition better than my original choice and so I swapped the camera & filters over to use the Lensbaby for some long exposures.  After the skinny dippers had left, tranquility returned and I was pleased that this image really captured the serenity of being alone in such a beautiful spot.

  • One of things about driving an electric car is that it takes a bit of forethought to plan the recharging stops on a longer journey.  My car does have a petrol back up so it’s never critical, but I try to avoid running on petrol unless I absolutely have to.  Scotland has made excellent progress in investing in public charging points, so I was able to make a planned stop in Crianlarich to recharge.  It only takes about 20-25 minutes to get back up to 80% charge which is good for about 70 miles driving gently on these kind of roads.  While the car was charging I popped to the shop for some crisps & sandwiches.  This interestingly decorated camper van was also in the car park.  I kept a good look out but I didn’t see any awesome nuns.  Pity really - they sounded like they could be a lot of fun! 


After Crianlarich I pointed the electric road missile towards Glencoe.  I’ve only been through there twice before, many years ago on the way to & from the Isle of Skye.  This time my intention was to stop and take it all in much more and hopefully make some images that I would be happy with.  On the way I made a couple of stops at Loch Tulla and Loch Ba, but despite taking a few photos I didn’t really feel that I was getting what I wanted.  I could say the light was too harsh/too flat/not golden enough etc, but I think the real truth is I just didn’t spend long enough there to tune in to the locations and explore until I found a scene I could connect with.  Anyway I continued on and spent some time in the landscape finding some viewpoints that pleased me.  I deliberately didn’t look at pictures of the area right before the trip as I didn’t want to just replicate photos I’d seen from other people.  Although having said that, in such a popular location I doubt there’s an original viewpoint to be found.

This first view is a panoranic shot looking down Glen Etive.


A little further along the road I chose to wander a bit further from the road to try a view with the River Etive in the foreground leading to the mountains beyond.  After taking this photo is how I found a foolproof way of telling with 100% accuracy whether a particular mossy tuft is solid, or if it is actually a man-trap.  Just stand on it and if your leg suddenly disappears to past the knee, you know it’s not load bearing.  I’m glad I (nearly) always carry my camera on a strap - I don’t know how far I would have flung it otherwise.


By the time I’d got back to the car and driven a bit further along the road it was getting into the late evening and the light was taking on a warmer glow.  Next stop was at Loch Achtriochtan.  I climbed up the bank next to the parking area to get the next view.  I had one camera set up on the tripod taking a long exposure shot, of about 4 minutes.  While that was going on I grabbed my other camera with the Lensbaby on and took a few shots with that.  It was a Lensbaby shot that I liked best in the end.  Not only that, I also had a nice chat with a lovely couple from Nijmegen in the Netherlands who were here on holiday.  Who says us men can’t multitask huh?

I love the way the mountain dominates the cottage in this image and makes it seem so tiny and insignificant.  I call it “Feeling Small in Glencoe”

That’s all for now.  

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