Friday, 19 January 2018

Scottish Highlands

Travelling over Christmas and New Year's in the Scottish Highlands brings some rewards to the Landscape photographer. It is a unique time that provides unique lighting with muted colours and changing weather to challenge your photography skills. Documenting the area around the Alness area, including Loch Morie, Ardross and Boath, you will see what I mean...

Looking toward Ardross Castle from the south

The weather in the Highlands tends to change quickly, with predominant west winds blowing in clouds and precipitation that changes regularly. The sun does come out occasionally, and it highlights the colours when it does.

Higher in the Highlands on forest trails

Hiking further into Boath on forest trails, active forest industries can be found that also add specific details to the area. All of this creates opportunities for my 10-24 zoom lens! Note the changing weather.

Rogie Falls near Strathpeffer

Not far from Alness, you can venture to Rogie Falls. Again, the changing (challenging) winter weather provides for opportunities in landscape photography. Specifically, in the darker lighting conditions, slower shutter speeds allow for moving water photographs allowing you to see the complexity of the water falls.

Loch Morie

Loch Morie

Loch Morie

Heading to Loch Morie, on a calm winter's day is a hike worth taking. The completely calm surface of the Loch creates ideal conditions. The colours that appear in the photos become unreal. This is a very secluded spot and quiet. You can spend a lot of time here!

Dam on Loch Morie

There is a small dam where Loch Morie drains into the River Averon, and again, with light conditions fading in the early evening, slow shutter speeds are helping to make the photos interesting! I can usually find solid camera positions that occur in the environment, some man made, some natural. This was taken from a small bridge over the River Averon. In the winter, the sun doesn't rise until almost 9 am, and it starts to get dark by 3 pm, with night arriving by 4 pm. 

Ullapool harbour

Driving to the west coast to Ullapool, you can find similar lighting challenges. This was around 10 am. The sun doesn't rise very high in the sky and of course, the weather adds to the photos.

View of Loch Assynt from Ardvreck Castle

Heading further west, the hill beside Ardvreck Castle provides a great viewpoint overlooking Loch Assynt. This was shot with the 10 mm lens in the misty rain that was falling. Care must be taken when shooting with a really wide angle lens in rain, otherwise the lens gets coated in water very fast. The rain gives a much softer contrast to the scene.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer of 2014 Continued

I didn't quite finish the Mt. Washington story. Well, this is the continuing saga. I've should have added this one sooner, as this is part of the ravine trail heading up to the Gem Pool. It does give an idea of the scenery found on the way up, still well below the tree line.

Ammonoosuc Ravine

So... continuing where I left off, the trip up to the tree line was challenging. Once we broke through free of the trees, we could see glimpses of the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) Lake of the clouds Cabin. It was a great place to stop and rest before continuing to the summit. It is also an opportunity to judge the weather and conditions to make sure you are equipped correctly and prepared for the type of conditions found above the cabin. The cabin has amenities, like washrooms, overnight accommodations, hot beverages and some food if you want to purchase it. We had our own provisions and were quite well prepared to continue up the mountain. Once back on our way, the first sign you pass says something like, "This is Mt. Washington. The worst weather in the USA. Many people have died on this mountain. Do not continue if you are not equipped or able to contend with the weather etc..." And continue on, we did.

View of Lake of the Clouds Cabin, AMC

During our ascent, there were some views of the summit and of the trail below us. We were well into the cloud cover at this point and there was a slight clearing to look down the path from where we had come. If it was truly a cloudy, foggy day, we would have had to return to the cabin and back the way we came, as we had no compass. Fortunately, we could see up the path to the next rock cairn. Trail markings are non existent or too faded to see. The cairns really helped. We did meet one pair of hikers who took the wrong path, and added about 1 km to their trip after passing us, and then rejoining us later. It pays to pay attention! 

Looking back down the path through the clouds
After many rock scrambles up the trail to the summit, and a fairly steep climb, we reached the summit. On the summit, we found a myriad of people who had either driven or taken the cog railway. They had lined up to have a pictures taken at the summit sign, stating the altitude. A little too much for me, so we bypassed that. (Lining up to have photos? They were wearing t-shirts and shorts! It was about 7 degrees C at the summit. We were wearing base layers, insulating layers and a shell to keep warm!) I did manage a few shots at the summit, just so you can see what it looks like.

Structures found atop Mt. Washington
 It was then time to return to the start. We planned the day before to take the Jewell Trail back to the start. It was a challenge as it had a lot of scree and rock falls to navigate. Hard on the feet and ankles and knees! We crossed the Cog Railway which had many trains ferrying people to the summit. The people on board looked at us like we were oddities (actually climbing up the Mountain?!) 

Mt. Washington Cog Railway
And, as our luck would have it... on looking back to the summit, the clouds lifted and the sun started to shine. Regardless, the views were still stunning coming down the west side of the Mountain.

On the Jewell Trail looking up at the summit
 The Jewell Trail doesn't have a lot of redeeming qualities, like the Ammonoosuc Trail, but it is an easier descent with a lesser grade. There were a few features, and views along the way. From a distance, these rocks looked a little like snow, still worthy of a photo!

Snow Rocks on the Jewell Trail

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Summer of 2014

My wife and I took a nice little trip by car to the east coast. Our plans were not too solid, and we were planning only a few things on this trip. She loves the ocean, so the trip was planned around the ocean as much as possible. The one thing we did plan, was a bicycle trip on Nantucket. We didn't take a lot of photos on Nantucket, but this opportunity in Hyannis did present itself. We went to watch the sunset, from the beach which is near the harbour outlet. The colours of the setting sun filtered through the sail wing made for an interesting photo.

After Hyannis, we headed North for New Hampshire. We had been to the White Mountains previously, but when our kids were young, so this time, we had time to do some hiking. 

Lonsome Lake

We arrived in the mountains in the afternoon, and after getting some local info from the ranger station, we decided to hike up to Lonesome Lake. It is a nice little hike, fairly steep, but at the end, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the lake. This was taken near the Appalachian Mountain Club's cabin. The trails up to the lake are well marked and easy to follow, but make sure you wear proper footwear have proper clothing as well. 

The next day, after speaking to our host from the local B&B, we decided to tackle Mt. Washington. On his advice, we took the Ammonnoosuc Ravine Trail from the west side of the mountain.

The trail is challenging, and at the start, quite easy, but after the Gem Pool, the grade changes dramatically and you must be skilled and prepared for bouldering, traversing rock face and fording streams. This is one hike you must be prepared for and must check the weather and must also be prepared to say, "This doesn't look good. It is time to return the way we came!"

Ammonoosuc Ravine and trail

This photo, (above) is a typical display of the 'lower' trail. The grade is lower and the trail well maintained.

The Gem Pool
As I said earlier, after reaching the Gem Pool, which is a really great place to have a snack and re-hydrate, you must cross the pool, and follow the near vertical path (just to the left in this photo), to continue "up" the trail. Depending on the temperature, this is also a great place for a swim!

Just off the trail, I found another 'pool' at the bottom of a number of waterfalls. This one was a little hard to get to, but worth it. It does not hurt to venture off the trail a little, if you are able, and careful, and find other views like this one. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Cliffs of Moher

There are places in Ireland you must go and see. The Cliffs of Moher is one of them. Take the full hike down the paths and make sure to look at them from all angles. The sea cliffs of Ireland are really quite amazing. This is in County Clare, and there are other good things to see in the area.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

I particularly like the bottom one, as the colour of the rocks contrast nicely with the sea and the greens on the far cliffs. Once you walk south past the boundary area, there is nothing to prevent you from falling off the cliffs. Practice care while taking photos near the edge. The views are really outstanding and make the use of a wide angle lens. There is just too much to take in.
Looking South

Looking North
Far off, you can see a stone tower which is in the paved path area of the park. It doesn't take long to hike to an area where there are less people. On this day, we had rain, sun, cloud, fog and just about any other condition combined. Still, lots of good photo opportunities.

Cork, Cork, Ireland

Cork Ireland is of course in Cork County, hence the post title. I've been to Cork before, while on a cruise ship vacation and kissed the Blarney Stone etc., but this time, I wasn't bound to an organized visit, so I had lots of time to enjoy the area. The Christmas decorations in Ireland are quite nice and unique to their holiday. I like the way they string up the lights over the roads and they seem to have a liking for the colder colours, like blue lights. Everywhere, blue lights. And white. They stray into the violet and purples, but you don't see a lot of yellow. Or red.

Spar Store in Cork

I don't think the decorations are for the Spar store, but the apartment above it? This was on Mac Donnell Street (sp). There was a nice pub down the road that had a great bar tender and it was a warm pub with a fireplace. I liked it a lot. 
During the day, I think it was New Year's Eve, we walked around town. There was a tug boat that had just recently tied up alongside the old buildings near the Customs House. The water had settled down, nice a calm. It could have been any time of year, but it wasn't. 

Celtic Isle

The surface of the water and colours of the ship reflect nicely. Cork harbour is a busy place. 

Cork Harbour

The B&B I stayed at had a great view of the harbour from the window... I opened the window and shot above the roof line. The sky came to life after resetting the EV and making some minor exposure setting adjustments. A great view of Cork, looking south.

Cork streets, looking south

This is a similar view, but from the streets. Here, you can see the train underpass. The harbour in the distance. Another beautiful day. My wife and I had a great walk that day, and saw some great historical areas in Cork. There is a blue walking symbol you can follow around town to see the sights.

Blue Footbridge

Red Abbey

River Lee at night

I love the way timed photos make water look. Smooth and oily. Cork Ireland. A nice place to visit.

It's been a while... but I'm back

So, a year has gone by but I have been busy taking photos. Lots of photos. I'll have to play catch up for a while. I'll work backwards, because that means I will remember the newest stuff better, and won't forget details.
Ireland. Christmas time, and New Years, to celebrate with my kids and wife. 2013 was a good year with lots of good time and great photo opportunities.
This photo, from Slieve League, Ireland is a favourite from this trip. The colour of the rocks, the ocean and all the vegetation. It was a much colder and bleaker day than the photo suggests, but the results were great!

A Beautiful Place
The lighting was really nice on Boxing Day, or St. Stephen's Day as the Irish like to call it. They built a new platform here, where this was taken from, but with some creative framing, all you can see is the old fence. The colours really are amazing. I'd like to see this area in other times of the year to see how the pallet changes season to season. The wide angle lens makes the cliffs look a lot smaller, but the height of these cliffs is quite something. A really unique place in the world...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Isle of Mull, Tobermory, Scotland

I recently returned from a nice trip to Scotland, concentrating on the west coast and Islands. After visiting Iona, we had time to travel to Tobermory. Tobermory is one of those places where you can't take a bad photo. Much like the Greek Islands. I swear, if you drop your camera and it takes a photo, it will likely be a good one. Of course, the old adage, "F8 and be there" applies. You have to get there to take the photo. Driving on the left hand side of the road was not a problem for most of Mull. The roads are only one lane wide and you drive at highway speeds (60 m.p.h. in most of Scotland) constantly playing 'chicken'. Nothing like the rush of head on collision, potentially, to keep you aware, awake and hyper-vigilant! I'll post some more of my photos from this trip but this one is ready...

It also helps to have cooperation from the weather. It just happened to be a sunny day that day! It was also quite warm, which is an anomaly in Scotland. This was taken with my Nikon D300 using the 10-24 zoom. A little custom cropping was done to concentrate the image and reflection to emphasize the colours as well. What I really like about this one? The fact that it reminds me of the really good bakery found along this line of buildings! The main reason I went to Scotland? The bakeries of course...