I joined Trover

After many hints from Brendan Van Son on his You Tube Channel, I joined Trover, which is a photography site with the motto “Great experiences trump just about anything you can buy in a store, and you know how to track ’em down”.  I’ve just been dumping quite a few photos on there, including some older ones from my travels over the years.  It’s a great photo site with photos organised by location, so good for people traveling or armchair traveling!

View Geoff MacDonald’s photos on Trover

Another misty morning

This morning wasn’t going to be an epic sunrise, but was nicely misty.  There’s a field of horses nearby and I thought they might make a nice photo in the mist.  So, out I headed to their field.  It was still a bit dark.  And misty.  And it’s a big field.  And so I spent quite a bit of time walking around it all.  And the horses that were there last night weren’t there.  And my walking boots need waterproofing.

Despite the lack of horses, I did get some shots on the walk back.

Early morning mist

It looks like we’ve skipped summer this year and gone straight from late spring into early autumn.  I checked the weather last night and it didn’t look like there would be much in the way of high cloud to get an epic sunrise so I wasn’t planning on going out.  However, I woke up at 4.45am, so I thought I might pop out to see what I could get locally.

I took a walk to a field just a few minutes walk away.  Although it’s close, I’ve not been in there for about 6 months, so I took a wander around to try to find a nice composition.  It’s very flat (which is pretty much the case for a 50 mile radius), but there are a few trees dotted around.  I found one which was “resting”.  I tried a few angles; it was very close to another tree, which didn’t help as it was difficult to get a balanced composition without the branches getting into the shot.  This is the first shot that I got; I like the colours in this one, but not too happy with the composition.

I moved around to the right and got this one which I’m happier with:

Once the colours started to leave the sky, I took a walk to a nearby stream.  Luckily, there was a swan posing for me.

I think I may have a little sleep now!

An unplanned trip

I decided to catch the sunrise at Hunstanton Beach last week.  I’ve never been there before, so I did what planning I could using TPE, which was pretty much just determining which end of the beach to would be best to catch the sun.

I left at 0430 and got to the car park a couple of minutes after the sky started to do its thing.   Not the best planned trip at all!  I pulled up next to a ticket machine, bought a parking ticket, grabbed my gear and ran down to the beach.  Sunrise only lasts a few minutes and I’d already missed the start, so I wasn’t going to have time to find interesting bits of foreground interest.  I used what was immediately available; wet sand and shallow pools.

I used my Tokina ATX 116 PRO DX AF11-16mm F/2.8 lens with no filters; I wanted the sky reflecting off the pools and ripples in the sand, so a polarizer was not required.

I set the camera up fairly low to the ground so that the ripples in the sand would appear more prominent.  I used f/14 to increase the depth of field and took a 2 second exposure.

Having got the “shot in the bag”, I took a quick look around to see if there was anything interesting lying around and saw a moss covered rock a little way behind.  It was also quite close to another shallow pool, which had an interesting curve to it:

In my haste, I left my camera bag in the shot.  A couple of clicks in Adobe Lightroom soon fixed that.

After that, I started to explore so that I’d have a better idea of what to expect next time I came. A little further South, there are some nice rocks, but I think that they’re probably more suited to a sunset, rather than a sunrise.  There are also some small cliffs, which at sunrise are in the shade, so they’re probably more suited to a sunset when the nice sky colours will be reflected off them.

 

Scotland

Achleek Cottage

At the end of March, we loaded up the car and went on a trip to Western Scotland for a week.

After an 11 hour drive (half of which was through some amazing scenery, so it wasn’t that bad), we arrived at what was to be our home for the week at Achleek on the bank of Loch Sunart.

The geography of Scotland is quite a contrast to the flatness of Easts Yorkshire and Anglia, to which I have become accustomed.

 

Sunday

Beinn an Albannaich, Loch Sunart

The next morning, I was up nice and early to try to get a “sunrise over the Loch” shot.  The sky was completely clear, which makes a dull photo, but I got a panorama of what may be Beinn an Albannaich behind Loch Sunart.

Ardslignish

After breakfast, we took a walk along part of the South shore of the Loch for the afternoon and then headed out to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, a 19th Century lighthouse located at the most Westerly point on the British mainland for sunset.  The thing with Scotland is that pretty much the whole time you’re driving, you want to keep stopping because the view is amazing.  So you end up just looking and driving; otherwise you don’t get anywhere.  However, we did have to stop at Ardslignish (according to The Meaning of LiffArdslignish (adj.)  Adjective which describes the behaviour of Sellotape when you are tired).

We arrived at the lighthouse just in time for sunset, so off I went scrambling down the rocks to get a shot of the lighthouse and another of the sun.

Ardnamurchan

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

Monday

Monday was a trip to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a railway viaduct on the West Highland line and used as a location in several films and TV series probably most famously in the Harry Potter movies.  On the way there, we realised that we’d (OK, I’d) left our water behind.  We weren’t (OK, I wasn’t) too worried as surely we’d pass a shop or garage on the way.  Also, there’s a visitor’s centre near where we were going to park.  When we got there, having not passed any shops or garages, the visitor’s centre was closed as it was out of season.  Oops.

We headed out anyway on a walk that took us under the viaduct and up above it where I got yet another panorama.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

We stopped to eat our lunch, then turned back in search of liquid, which we found at Glenfinnan House.

The drive back to the cottage took us along the Southern and Western shores of Loch Eil, which of course had some more tremendous views, including Ben Nevis, at 1,345m above sea level, the highest mountain in the British Isles.

Ben Nevis

Tuesday

Tuesday was a trip to Kentra Bay and the Singing Sands.  We (OK, I) remembered to take the water this time.  The walk from Kentra starts at a small car park, goes along a track next to the water, through forest and ends at the singing sands.

Lone Tree at Kentra Bay

Unfortunately, the forest had been used for a year filming a Channel 4 series Eden so the track through was covered in small rocks, presumably to make it easier to drive the TV vehicles but very difficult to walk on and had a solid wooden fence all along the right to wall in the contestants.  However, the beach was beautiful and peaceful.  We stopped to have lunch and an explore before heading back home.

The dogs enjoyed it

Wednesday

Wednesday began with another attempt to get a nice photo of Loch Sunart at sunrise.  There was some rain beginning to move in, so the sky was getting more interesting.  I took another panorama

Loch Sunart

And one with a 10 stop ND filter to smooth out the water and add a bit of movement to the clouds

Loch Sunart

We then went to visit Aoineadh Mor, the remains of a small farming community of 22 houses.  The people were tenant farmers and forced to leave their homes in 1824 by the new landowner during the Highland Clearances.  An account by Mary Cameron of the “flitting day” read by Anne Sinclair can be heard here.

Thursday

Thursday was to be a walk from Samalaman to Smirisary.  We didn’t have a good start to this as the guide was “a bit wrong”.  It started by telling us to go through what was clearly a private gate and garden.  We walked around for a while and found an alternative start which was a bit more acceptable.  It then took us through some boggy ground and up a small hill.  At the top of the hill the track disappeared.  When we came to a roughly 10m drop, we decided that the marked route was probably not to be trusted, so we retraced our steps and went around.  This meant walking over (sometimes over, sometimes in) some very boggy ground.  After a while, the dogs spotted something very exciting and pulled me over.  I was a bit grumpy.  We took a detour and found some rocks near the beach to stop and have lunch, then decided to cut the walk short as the next part was through the boggy ground and along/through a field of sheep.  With the dogs getting excited, we didn’t want to have them barking and upsetting the animals.

Maol Bhuidhe

Friday

This was our last day, and we spent the day exploring close to the cottage.

We started by heading Eas.  It had been raining for a couple of days, so the mountain had quite a few waterfalls coming down into the Loch.

Waterfall, Loch Sunart

And a nice rainbow, too.

Rainbow over Loch Sunart

We then went West as far as the Laudale Estate and let the dogs have a play on the shore.

Loch Sunart

After that, we went back to the cottage.  The sun was beginning to set and the sky turned quite spectacular.  I wasn’t quite prepared for it and didn’t have time to get to a good location for a shot, but I quickly took this from the cottage.

Sunset, Loch Sunart

After that, we packed everything up ready for loading into the car in the morning.  It was very difficult to leave.

Links

Check my Instagram account for more photos.
I’ve put together a short video of these and a more photos/video from our trip.
Most of the walks that we did were found using Viewranger.

 

It’s been a while

Yeah… Nearly two years if the timestamps are to be believed.  I’ve not done much music, mainly started things that sound interesting, but not finished much.  I have been out with my camera a bit more and I’m trying to do more planned photos and fewer snapshots.  I’ve added a couple of photography links (Instagram and “Shots Of Community“).
We went on a trip to Horsey to see a seal colony.  The seals come ashore between November and February to give birth.  Obviously, you have to be careful not to disturb the seals during this time, their wellbeing is much more important than any photograph.
The cows feed the pups milk for their first three weeks, after which the cows return to the water.  The pups stay on land and don’t feed for a few weeks, during which time their white fur moults and they get a waterproof coat.  When they start to get hungry, they go to the water to catch fish.  It’s particularly important to leave the seals undisturbed during this time as a frightened pup could enter the territory of a bull and get killed.
As we have a couple of quite vocal dogs, we had to keep them away from the beach, which was easy as there are sand dunes that they can stay on the other side of.  Photos were taken using a zoom lens so we didn’t get too close.

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