A long time ago I was privileged to own a small bolthole property with an IV2 postcode – my own little patch of the proper Highlands. I visited it every fortnight, tended it well, and eventually couldn’t spare the time to keep it up as base moved beyond a reasonable commute distance.
A couple of weekends ago I revisited the area for the first time in years.
Some things have changed: a little traffic-light-controlled bridge is no longer there as the B851 has been slightly widened in parts; some of the surrouding hillsides have been clear-felled of their trees. But otherwise the lie of the land remains largely mercifully untouched. Strathnairn, with its rocky crags and landscapes of naught but light and water, still exudes a permeating emptiness – a present absence – that turns the role of viewer on its head, asking you “so what doyou stand for?”.
Of course, my other favourite afternoon escape route was a few miles up the road to the comparative civilisation of Dores. That hasn’t changed much either. The view down Loch Ness is just as impressive, and the solar halo just hanging in the sky was both awe-inspiring and uplifting.
There’s a chain, that binds us all in lives of wonder There’s a chain, hold it closely as you go Let this name be your family and your shelter Take this chain all your days, don’t let go.
Sedimentary conglomerate rocks, a bend in the River Almond and some nice late afternoon light.
I’ve never explored this area particularly, but on a whim having passed through the hamlet of Buchanty the previous day, with a day to spare and remembering someone in the local photographic society having posted a nice photo of the Spout, I thought I’d have a look.
Even on an average day the flow was quite awesome – a small gorge, but deep water flowing fast along its way like a bubbling jacuzzi.
Olympus Pen-F in high-resolution mode; circular polarizer, an ND8 and grad-ND4 filters and HDR bracketing to control the lighting.
A handful more photos from an afternoon stroll around Birnam Hill – little things that caught my eye. There was a small burn flowing down one of the paths, mostly covered in amazing semi-fractured ice crystals; patterns abound.
I took a long scenic detour home today, stopping in Bridge of Earn to search for Cromwell’s Tree having read about it in a book.
It’s easy to find – on the road heading south-west out of town, cross the railway bridge and it’s in the immediately adjacent field to the left.
The tree looks dead, but while the top half is a mass of dead bleached white remains of branches, the bottom third has fresh growth.
It’s known as Cromwell’s Tree as it commemorates the fact that Oliver Cromwell set up cam at Bridge of Earn in 1651. There is no documented evidence proving a direct link, but the tree is old enough to have been present in the 17th Century.
While I was there I found a pleasant reflection of the sky in a flooded field nearby.
Late November, very late autumn – short days of chilly weather and cold light – I set off for a drive through Glen Lyon. I’d not been there for at least five years; felt like ages. Yet very little changes. The river Lyon still burbles on merrily past the Roman Bridge (that isn’t in any way Roman – it dates from the late 18th century); the mountains were all the same shape, with a light dusting of snow hinting at winter yet to come; the Scots Pine trees were still where I remembered them being (and, more to the point, I’ve since learned that they’re a remnant of the Caledonian Forest). There are, however, yet more potholes in the road from the dam at the end of the Glen up and over to Glen Lochay and someone’s plonked a cattle fence across the way. So it goes.
I had some fun with the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 lens, using it for landscapes (not a usual choice for me) and closeup work, even using a hole drilled in the lens-cap to make it into a pinhole.
Ansel had his “Moonrise, Hernandez, Mexico” moment. On the way back along the glen, I had my “Moonrise, Glen Lyon, Scotland” moment: the dullest of grey fading light, a clear view along between the mountains, dark bluey clouds passing rapidly in the distance and the moon rising beyond. Better yet, there were two boulders – one to climb, from which the other made a nice foreground feature. Click. Or more accurately, cliiiiiick, click, cliiiiiiiiiiiick – the sounds of a long exposure HDR sequence (1s, 0.25s, 4s) to capture the contrast on the scene. Categorically the best photo opportunity of the year.
I drove back over Ben Lawers in the pitch black with the rain turning to sleet.
It’s been a slightly busy year; so busy I’m still catching up with photos made in April / May time. Much longer and it’ll suit next year instead!
Around the middle of May a group of friends and I went for a photo-stroll from Crieff out along Lady Mary’s Walk, in search of bluebells. We found some. I shot some with an infrared filter, just to see what would happen – it seems to have rendered the colours with a very olde-worlde vintage faded effect.
A selection of photos taken around Glen Lednock, mostly up the Melville Monument overlooking Comrie.
This is Highland Boundary Fault territory; the fault itself runs up Glen Artney from the south-west straight through Cultybraggan PoW Camp, on through Comrie and across the A85 to the east.
I was also struck by how vintage Comrie itself looks from afar – a nice ratio of buildings interspersed by trees, with such a low vehicular traffic flow (even on a Saturday afternoon) that one could almost imagine the cars being replaced by carriages.
And no visit to Glen Lednock could be complete without the obvious long-exposure photo of the Wee Cauldron waterfall, of course!
It seems like ages ago now – but back in April, a friend took me for a walk up Corrie Fee near Glen Clova. It was the first time I’ve been there, and didn’t know exactly what to expect; the first stretch through the forestry was pleasant (once the weather made its mind up what to fling at us), but when the view opened-out into a massive wide vista at the foot of a corrie, complete with glacial morraine hillocks, it was wonderful.
No trip to Argyll is complete without a drive around Inverawe. A beautiful place, with woodland left to nature to do its thing in the middle of the estate. This time, the trees were particularly gorgeous in the sunlight.
Of course, what really matters is that Old Friend, the first and most characterful of the trees I later identified as a goat willow, is doing well. He is.
My favourite of many old goat willow trees around the estate – increasingly falling apart at the seams, it’s still a characterful tree.
A small collection of things seen in the course of one day strolling around Perth: the classic view of St Leonard’s church with its spire across the South Inch; sun setting on the Craigie golf course; a chestnut tree. Well, why not 🙂
Two of my twitter friends have developed particular styles – extreme dark low-key black+white rendition and negative inversion, respectively. It’s intriguing how scenes come out – a very different mapping from the usual realism.