Scotland – A different kind of northern journey
As you may have read in our previous posts, this is not our first journey to the far north. After organizing a winter photography trip in Norway, at the beginning of the year, we thought we might change the scenery with a late autumn in Scotland. This was our first time in Scotland, so we decided to scout a wider area with prolific potential for landscape photography. But lets start with the beginning.
September in the United Kingdom can be quite capricious and weather can bring a lot of photographic opportunities as well as a pool of lost ones. We enjoyed dramatic skies, colorful rainbows as well as rays of light escaping through the clouds. We learned to find comfort during rainy days (read also When bad weather stays in your way) and take advantage of every moment without rain. That is why I truly believe that our Scotland photography trip offered us a different kind of journey, a journey of discovery, of new opportunities, of resilience to adapt to what we have in front of us, of building our own opportunities.
Isle of Skye
We started our journey on the Isle of Skye and this turned out to be our most difficult challenge. Trying to explore a totally different landscape and at the same time adjusting our mindset to cope with the difficult weather turned out to be quite hard. We had more than 3 days where rain wouldn’t stop at all, sometimes not even for a few minutes that would allow us to get our camera and shoot one single shot. This constantly happening for a couple of days might become frustrating.
Still, we realized we had a few options. The first one was to scout for future trips, when weather might turn out to be better. The second option was to have patience, to find appealing subjects and wait for a moment when rain would stop. The third one was to use the time we had for other photography related activities – writing an article or editing already snapped images.
As we started to adjust to the weather, it was easier to spot the short moments we had to our advantage. We already knew when rain was near, when to cover our cameras and when we should stop and wait. And, actually, at our departure from Skye we started to enjoy the unpredictability of the weather and the diversity of the landscape.
Also, we found out we had the misfortune (or the fortune) to take part to the first storm of the year – Storm Ali – and that things will get better as we progress in our journey.
Isle of Harris and Lewis
For us, Isle of Harris, was the jam of Scotland. We expected this, since Harris is not a well known and touristy place in Scotland. Also, it’s quite hard to get here (our ferry was canceled twice, before we arrived and prior to departure). As Skye was packed with tourists, Harris was quiet and so resourceful.
We enjoyed the diversity of the landscape so much, we were overwhelmed by its complexity. Just a few miles away you can enjoy beaches, rivers, mountains, hills, the ocean, a pack of stones.
In such a complex landscape you might be tempted to run from one place to another, to chase sunsets and sunrises but, at least from our experience, it’s such a relief to take things slow. Inspiration comes by following your feelings, wait for the right moment, listen to the landscape.
We came to enjoy so much the constantly changing weather, as it brings opportunities at every step of the way. Now it is sunny, then a shower brings in dark clouds, then the sun comes up again with a nice colorful rainbow. So every moment is an opportunity that can be explored.
Our last and shortest leg of the trip was Glencoe in the Highlands. At first we were afraid that it would be as packed with photographers as Skye, and it truly was. Our luck was that we were able to find remote places, where the landscape is still somewhat untouched, where wildlife is at its home, were we felt this last stop was worth a while. We saw dears, waterfalls, dew on the leaves and fences, old trees and jet black rivers.
Everything was as spectacular as the virginity of the landscape and this filled our hearts with joy.
We were not so enthusiastic about places that are well known, about landscapes that were over photographed, so our goal was to search for things and places that are different. This is usually a hard task, as you have to constantly reach spots that many times are not easily accessible.
We found it very difficult to find our voice in the Glencoe area, where all the major photographic “attractions” are. We tried to explore as much as we could, but without any remarkable achievements. Still, we were happy that we could return over and over again to our little pieces of heaven, barely touched by photography.
Scotland was a photographic experience that can only be lived and can hardly be related through an article. I hope, though, that images will say everything.