Isle of Skye New Year 2019 Trip report
The Long trip to Skye
Every Christmas and New Year break for as long as I can remember I’ve longed to visit The Isle of Skye. My previous trips have typically been at the Easter, over Summer on my motorbike or in Autumn for Landscape Photography. This year I was determined to make it to Skye over the Christmas holidays.
As with previous years, leaving things until the last minute is leaving things to chance but now having invested in my camper van I’m really free to go anywhere, whenever I am able. The reality of a camper van is it’s best suited to use exclusively by myself or at the most 2 people. I’m not a huge fan of the idea of being confined to a tight space in the cold and possibly wet with moaning kids so it’s best I find somewhere to book. I got lucky this year with 4 free nights at a place I stayed at previously on Skye. I booked in for 4 nights at 12 o’clock and by 3pm I was on the road North. Staying the first night at a Premier Inn just north of Glasgow meant I was free the whole of the following day for a relaxed drive up over Glencoe and up onto Skye.
I look forward to stopping off at a few beauty spots on the drive up but this time the weather was awful, extremely wet and windy, therefore no photographic opportunities were available in these beautiful parts of the journey. Fingers crossed things improve once on Skye. I arrived on Skye about 5pm in the dark and hopeful of a good few days visiting some of my favourite locations to make Landscape Photographs.
First day on Skye – New Years Day 2019.
Thankfully I woke to a much nicer day here on Skye. I was treated to some beautiful low winter light on the house I was staying in.
Being based in-between the Old Man of Storr and The Quiraing I’m spoilt for local places to visit and today I chose the Quiraing. I’m hoping to walk up Storr at some point on this trip but today was just a bit too Windy for that, I’m hoping to make it for sunrise which is at a landscape photographer friendly hour of 09:20 hours this far north.
Having made the short drive to the Quiraing it always amazes me at the scale of this true marvel. It’s a wonderfully interesting place with some fantastic views and geological features. I made a few portraits of the Kids here on my Hasselblad 503cx and managed to capture a few landscape shots with my Leica M-D. Easing myself in, nothing technical. Tourist shots if you will. You really need to be up here for sunrise to make the best of this place.
Moving on from The Quiraning I decided to make the journey across Skye to Neist Point. A fantastic Sunset location and given todays weather I was hopeful of witnessing a beautiful sunset. Driving across Skye is a real treat with the gentle winding roads and jaw dropping scenery around every corner. Once at Neist Point it was clear that the prospect of a jaw dropping sunset was unlikely give a bank of could hugging the horizon. However you never know how things are going to turn out and just being here is special enough.
I took a few moments to walk along the cliff edge and weigh up various viewpoints. With a few photographers already here I was able to find a spot that appealed and got myself setup. On my last visit here I was overwhelmed with how many people were just lined up taking the same shot. It didn’t leave a pleasant feeling to be honest and is something I’m noticing more and more as Landscape Photography becomes more accessible, more popular and the rise in guided tours or Landscape Photography courses that ferry people around in groups to popular spots become more of an everyday occurrence. Today in fact I witnessed a guy stood vlogging on the cliff edge. Stood behind his tripod, talking into another camera mounted on a handheld gimbal. Explaining to his camera exactly what filters he was using and his choice of composition. That word “Composition” I promised myself I’ll never use that word. For some reason it annoys me.
What dawned on me as I was stood there assessing the scene and making micro adjustments to my camera to best frame the scene in front of me was that surely vlogging a landscape photography shoot ruins the shoot itself. While we all focus in on the landscape and make decisions in our minds about what to include and what to leave out. From my observations the vlogger was simply in the same position and talking of his process when in fact from his vantage point he was in my opinion missing out on the best viewpoint.
Whilst on the subject of vlogging, I often feel frustrated that I don’t produce enough videos for my YouTube channel. That given the number of Landscape Photography shoots I go on (approx 120) in 2018. I could in effect produce a lot of content. However Landscape Photography for me isn’t about anyone else. It’s always been about my enjoyment and precious time in the Landscape.
Surely creating a vlog is just diluting the experience and giving yourself more work to do. One eye on the image and one on the video. What would my viewers want to see? Would this make interesting content? Which B-Roll shall I shoot? Cinematic sequences etc. All the while I doubt you can be the best Landscape Photographer you can be with your focus split between capturing a still image and telling the story of capturing that image through video.
From my perspective I would require an additional person to film me and ask me questions. As I seem to become really engrossed in the process of trying to see the image. I doubt, in fact I know, I’d not be good at producing such a compelling vlog that I’d like to put my name to it. It’s hard, first and foremost comes the image for me. It is that in which I’m primarily focused on and ultimately the reason I’m there. I am after all a Landscape Photographer and have no real desire to be a YouTube personality or outdoors presenter. However Landscape Photographers these days can;’t ignore the exposure YouTube provides in developing ones own brand.
So, given my soul focus is on the Landscape in front of me and creating the best Landscape Photograph I can here is my best effort from Neist Point on the Isle of Skye on New Years Day 2019….
All the photographs featured in this blog post are available as archival quality prints. Contact me for details….