It's easy to forget that the grand landscape is filled with small details. All these details combined is what creates the landscape that makes our jaws drop, yet we rarely pay them any attention. Noticing these scenes opens the door to a completely new world. A world that can be both beautiful and frightening. A world you normally don't notice. Yet a world worth discovering.
Those of you who follow me across various social medias may have picked up that I am currently visiting northern Spain. You may also know that I spent one year living here, and that my girlfriend still lives here. So this trip is a mix between relaxation with my girlfriend and friends and traveling along the coast to photograph.
Spain isn't only sun, beer and beautiful girls. The winter in Northern Spain consists of a lot of rain, wind and grey. Adding these factors with the dramatic seascapes can create some really moody images!
The last week I have been exploring the new social media, Ello.co. At first sight Ello seems very simple, clean and easy to use, which it also is. I am impressed by the high quality of the images uploaded, they don't tear the quality at all! Posting images almost feels like posting a blog. It is up to you if you want to have the text over or under the images, yes images! You can easily upload multiple photos, but all images appear under each other, theres no option to view them side by side.
... and a quick intro on how to photograph waterfalls
It was one of those days I had the need to go out to photograph, but I had nothing planned and no idea where to go! The sun was warm, but went in and out of partly heavy clouds. Earlier that morning it had been raining, and I knew that the condition would turn out very good for photographing waterfalls. Thinking back to the days when I hiked the local areas with my dad, I remembered a spot I haven't been to in ages!
One day with exceptional conditions and beautiful surroundings
There is no doubt that Isle of Skye in Scotland is one of the most beautiful locations I have seen in a long time. During the 7 days we spent on the island, we went to many different locations, and it was hard to say what was best. Even though a location can be really beautiful, it is hard to take a good shot if the weather is bad. Most of our time the weather turned out ok, but day six is a day i will remember rest of my life. We called it, "the yes-day".
After a huge disappointment for sunset the day before, we were ready to have a good day with shooting. Getting a couple hours sleep, we struggled ourself out of our beds around 03.00. That gave us just enough time to get dressed, take a glass of water, grab our gear and walk down to Portree Bay . This was a short walk, roughly 2-3 minutes. A couple of days before we discovered a small, closed, path walking down to a small cliff that had a good view of the bay. After setting up our tripods and cameras, we discovered that this was midge paradise. Luckily we had loads of midge spray and I also had a nett, Nick managed to forget his at home. The forecast had said that it would be misty, so we did not expect anything spectacular when we came. To our relief, there was no mist and the clouds were cracking up, and the water was like a mirror. We spent probably one hour at this place, shooting both the bay and the loch behind us. After one hour we had got our shots, and Nick was being eaten by midges so he was ready to go. Walking back to our house we realised that there was coming some good colours in the sky. Arguing both for and against shooting more, we ended up in the car and drove as fast as we could north. What we did not yet realise was that this would be the start of the perfect day.
Driving north we had our eyes wide open for a place good enough to photograph. We ended up parking our car in the ditch and running down towards Loch Fada . The sun had just hit the hills on the far left side of the lake, giving the scene a harmonic feeling. One thing I am extremely pleased with, is that we both had our midge nett. This was purgatory. I have never in my life seen so many midges at once in my life. Literally thousands of midges were around our heads, covering our cloths and my bare hands. I had to wave infront of my lens before shooting to get a shot without midges. Despite the midges, this was an amazing place, and we stayed there for rest of the sunrise.
After this successful morning we agreed to only say yes rest of the day. This ment, if we saw a place that might be good to photograph, we would stop and check it out, not drive past. With this plan we anticipated to use a couple hours more to our sunsets spot then we would otherwise. On our way to Elgol we stopped approximately 5 or 6 times. The first place we stopped was alongside the main road. The light had a fantastic shine on some mountains, and the clouds were low and just covering the top. In addition there was some beautiful heather for some foreground action!
The next two locations did not have good enough light for us to get a good picture. We then stopped at a old church from the 1500s. The low clouds and good light made this a pretty interesting scene to photograph. It was almost a little bit creepy.
Moving on we stopped by a river we had discovered some days earlier. I was certain that this place was "the spot". The landscape and river was unlike anything I have ever seen before. I would love to upload them all now, but one should be enough for this time. Anyway, we were in heaven when shooting this landscape. The river had dug itself down to a cliff, and there was a chain of beautiful waterfalls. With heavy clouds above, and crystal clear water below, this river was perfect. It was hard to get a good composition though, I felt that i needed to get down between the waterfalls to get a great shot. So i climbed down the edge, placed the tripod with one foot on a rock on each side of the waterfall behind me, found my balance point and started shooting. It was worth it, just the feeling of standing between the waterfalls was worth it. We probably spent over an hour shooting before we recognised that it was only half an hour to sunset, and still 15 minutes of driving.
Time for sunset
As if the day had not already been great, a double rainbow was painted over Loch Slapin. Sadly we did not have time or a place to photograph it. We arrived Elgol with enough time to find our composition before the sunset started. To our disappointment the rain was starting to hit us pretty hard. This made it extremely difficult to shoot, and the sun was pretty much drowned in the clouds. We tried our best to protect our gear, but ended up walking back under a big arch at the beach. After waiting there for about 5 minutes, the weather started to get better again. The clouds eased and revealed an absolutely breathtaking seascape. With the "Lord of the rings" reminding mountains "Cullin" behind, the rocky beach was an amazing sight. Slowly we moved back to the rocks we escaped during the rain, and we took our last shots before the darkness surrounded us. While packing up our gear, I noticed something move in my peripheral vision. Thinking it might be a new rock showing from the tide, I took a look, but I couldn't see anything. Suddenly I saw the movement again, and to our surprise it was a small seal! This young seal was a playful one, he swam a couple meters away from us, and he climbed the back of a rock to left for us, and jumped back in the water. We tried filming him, but with ISO 6400 it was not easy to get anything at all.
So this was our perfect day of shooting. I'm sorry the text became a bit longer than I had planned, but it was simply such an amazing day. The best part about it, and the part that might be most important to remember, is that this was the day we only said "YES". Who knows what would have happend if we said "NO" that morning, we might not have got the shots we were most pleased with from this journey.
I wish you all a great saturday!
I've recently spent 10 days in the beautiful Scotland photographing. Guess what, the fact that i had no internet, or phone service did not bother me at all! Thats how great the landscape was! I went with my friend Nick Dautlich, a UK landscape photographer, and we had a great time shooting together.