Travel photography: Scotland 2015 - Part 3

August 1, 2015

This is the third part of the article series on Scotland. If you haven't read the first part and the second part, please start there.


The world famous 'cloud island' is the largest of the Inner Hebrides and well known for its dramatic landscapes, consisting of countless peninsulas, bays, cliffs, hills and rock pinnacles.

Waterfall near Luib.

Because of the freakishly expensive nature of the island I was only willing to stay for one day, and for that day I had four specific photography locations in mind – for sunset, midnight, sunrise and early midmorning. The thing is, the weather is often just as dramatic as the landscape, which I had to experience first-hand during my short visit. From the four outings I had planned, only one could be accomplished the way I had imagined (and only barely at that) the others basically fell victim to the storm, partially or completely.

I crossed the Skye Bridge, which connects Skye to Kyle of Lochalsh, shortly after noon and followed the winding road up north to the capital city Portree.

View over Portree. The Storr is visible in the background.
Loch Fada and the Old Man of Storr in the distance.
The Storr consists of a gentle grassy hill on the west side, contrasted by high, vertical rock walls to the east. In front of these cliffs, an area containing numerous rock pinnacles, called the Sanctuary, dominates the landscape. This captivating scenery was formed by landslides in prehistoric times.

The Storr was my first real stop for the day. The original plan was to take pictures in the warm sunset light, but in contrast to the rest of my stay in Scotland, the weather wasn't favorable while I was on Skye. As I ascended to the desired location the light rain was already an indication that I might not be able to follow through with my plans for that day. About an hour later after I had taken some halfway decent test shots, a heavy mist in combination with a rainstorm ended all my hopes for spectacular landscape photography at the time.

The Old Man of Storr is the most prominent of the rock pinnacles in the Sanctuary. The 48 meter high pillar is one of the most famous sights of the island and a well renowned and desired subject for landscape photographers all over the world. Although the shoot did definitely not work out the way I had planned, it's still one item I can cross from my list.

The rainstorm continued during most of the night and of course also ruined my plans for midnight, where I originally had a very nice location for some milky-way shots in mind.

A little disappointed by how the events had unfolded so far, I navigated to Neist Point before first light. I was determined to turn my luck around and at least get some good shots at this remarkable location. The sky was still overcast and didn't look too promising but already knowing the generally finicky weather I set up my tripod directly at the stony shore and waited for the sun to emerge over the hills.

The clouds luckily cleared just a small slit at the right moment and revealed the gorgeous morning light. This image was taken with a shutter speed of 0.6s which led to the perfect amount of motion blur in the water. Seems that I actually learned from my mistake in Glen Affric.

After five short minutes of shooting the inevitable happened – I was surprised by a sudden downpour (again). If I remember correctly this was the fifth time during the trip that my camera was drenched. Even running back to the car and trying to cover the gear as good as possible couldn't really change that.

At this point I was halfway content. I had already managed to get some usable pictures with good light, which was much more than what can be said about the previous shoots. Although it seemed the heavy rain would stay, I took my chances and resolved to wait for some time. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes the rain stopped and the sun appeared between the clouds. Naturally I seized the moment and started to take more photos.

The ever changing weather can be cumbersome for photography but it sometimes also leads to unique opportunities like this rainbow shot.
By approaching slowly and cautiously the sheep wasn't disturbed and nicely enhanced the landscape.
The steep cliffs of Neist Point form an outstanding scenery that attract countless visitors every year.
Getting really close to the cliffs reveals a spectacular view on Waterstein Head and the bay underneath.

Just as I was taking this picture I felt a few small droplets and less than a minute later, another downpour ended my session at this location.

I would have loved to explore the area some more but due to the increasingly bad weather, I opted to continue to the next location, the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle.

The Fairy pools are a series of waterfalls coming down from the Cuillin, the largest mountains on Skye.

Since I cannot be at two places at the same time and I had spent the sunrise at Neist Point, the timing for the Fairy Pools wasn't ideal. I was, however, thankfully still early enough to avoid the tourist masses, so I tried to make the most of the scenery.

Depending on the light and depth, every pool seems to have a slightly different color.
The larger waterfalls with the Cuillin Mountains in the background are an especially picturesque sight.

Completing the shoot at the Fairy Pools unfortunately already concluded my one day visit to Skye.

Exceptional view over Loch Loyne on the way to Oban.

The journey continues

The final article in this series is about my return trip via Oban and Glasgow.

» Continue to part 4 »

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