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March 2014



Skye pink, Isle of Skye


My March adventure started with a silly o'clock train ride to Peterborough to meet Ian Haskell and friend Ray. After a day snuggled in the back of a car filled with photography gear, we drove to Northumberland.  We didn't photograph the usual castles or photo-tourist spots but headed for less well-known places where my next lesson in landscape photography was waiting for me.
With a lesson title of 'rocks, shapes and sea' but probably sub-titled 'learning through frustration', Ian patiently walked me up and down a beautiful beach. He and Ray clearly knew where to begin. I was flummoxed.  I could see the potential but couldn't translate it into a photograph. The tripod became an albatross. I reached tipping point after an hour of sulky frustration, packed the camera away and started making pictures on my iPhone.  I found I could do that. 
Ian's wise words 'find something that appeals to you and work on it' were ringing in my ears.  I got the 'proper' camera out, took it off M and started snapping. Eventually, I found that I wanted to use the tripod again to support the camera and, as the light dropped and the shadows started to form, my creative eye opened. 
When the street lights lit up and added a lovely sodium yellow gleam to the rocks, I was finally in my stride.  With the light almost gone, Ray called me to see the seal pup that Ian was photographing. S/he was hauled up on the beach and subtlely lit by the street light.  A rare and magical encounter.  
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It's a blimmin' long way to Skye but on the plus side, the scenery that unfolds while you look through the car window, is just beautiful.  We stayed in a beautiful cottage and had lots of excursions around Skye.  Blessed with good weather and an amazing sunset, I spent hours and hours on beaches and scrambled over rocks looking for the best vantage point.  Ian mentioned a 'famous' boulder (JCB) and I spent a happy hour looking for it and then trying to construct an image that I was reasonably happy with.  My real challenge came later by the side of a stream flowing into the sea.  The light was extraordinary with some real golden glints but I found it really hard to turn what I could see into images.

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It's always worth getting up really early for the prospect of a fantastic dawn.  So, with headtorches to light the path down to the cliff top, we set up tripods and watched the colour develop in the morning sky.  A real privilege to stand and watch.
Photographing waterfalls is fun, great fun.  I loved the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle!  Whether to photograph the whole of a waterfall or just an element, doesn't matter.  I had fun and played around with different shutter speeds and different filters etc etc.  Hours of fun!  As the clouds swirled around the mountain tops and the sun went down, it was fantastic to just spend some time just 'watching'
A couple of images in this set were taken on a very well-known beach on Skye, but my head wasn't in the right gear!  I struggled endlessly with composition while the sea persisted in splashing me with dirty foamy scummy stuff.  I wrestled with my camera bag.  I fought my tripod and I tripped and stumbled on the rocks.  It was one of those days!  I didn't get the filters out when I should have done. I have included one image called 'nearly' ... and then I went and photographed the sheep... and they wouldn't cooperate either.  All they had to do was decorate the bottom of the mountainside and they couldn't do that without moving about.  Memorable and by golly, I learnt a lot.
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When our time on Skye ended, we broke the journey with some happy hours in the Highlands, looking for feral goats and red deer.  I love the jaunty piece of grass that seems to hang out of the mouth of every goat that we saw.  I didn't get the image that I wanted of a red deer stag out in the open with his full crown of points but I really like the image of 'the young pretender' with his growing antlers and also of the youngster, doing his or her best to hide.  
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Ian Haskell, thank you for inviting me.  If you want to know more about Skye and/or see some really superb images, please visit Ian's website.