A.M.A.N.D.A. Happy Days.

It’s been a busy few months up here in the frozen north.

The Steading, the home base for our photographic tours, has endured many a hard winter and has seen hundreds of photographers cross its threshold shaking off snow from their boots and jackets. The front entrance can no longer bear the pressure of eager photographers keen to get their mits on our homemade shortbread after a hide session with our local red squirrels. An extension was in order and in November, the builders moved in. And so did the snow. Happy Days.

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On the road again.

I rarely seem to have time these days to read all the magazines that drop through my door; I’m sure it never used to be the case. One headline however, recently caught my eye: “Make the weather in Photoshop”. Apparently, for those who know what’s what, ice, sun, mist and rain can all be plucked from the digital heavens and inserted into an image with no one being any the wiser. Is that what it’s come to? Is that what nature photography is now about?

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The plan that no one dares to make

One of the traits that makes us human is the ability to plan – to look into the future and envisage the consequences of our actions. We’re obsessed with planning. Businesses plan cash flow and marketing strategy; charities plan fundraising and volunteer recruitment; even nature reserves have management plans dictating which species should live and those that shouldn’t. And as individuals, in an effort to make the best use of our time and resources, many of us plan to the nth degree. As a society we don’t like to leave anything to chance. We strive to ensure wherever possible, positive and sustainable outcomes. It all makes sense but with all this detailed planning going on, you’d think that we’d have a pretty comprehensive plan in place for our future as a species. Not so. This is the elephant in the room, the plan that no one wants to make.

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Cosmetic surgery for the soul.

A huge debt to our lead guitarist’s father, who’d misguidedly invested in a bunch of egotistical hairys, who could barely play but were nevertheless accomplished posers, meant that my dream of becoming a rock legend at 18 was thwarted before it really began. From the ashes of our well intended but naïve aspiration, my working life began but the damage to my vanity ran deep. Without the band, I was deprived of a public platform, an opportunity to bathe in the glory of public adulation. It was a bitter pill for a young man with carefully nurtured waist-length hair to swallow.

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No pain, no gain.

Without realising, I’ve been dashing around Scotland for the last 20 years with my head wedged firmly between my buttocks (too much detail?). I’ve not intended to be blind to the landscape in front of me but rather than look, see and ‘feel’, I’ve rather tended to simply consume. Recently however, I’ve forced myself to explore the Scottish landscape afresh; to put it in a wider perspective; to understand and appreciate it better, or more fully.

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SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

I can’t remember the last time that I was so excited about my photography. It’s a bit weird; I’m like a kid in a sweetshop. It’s not that I’m jetting off to the Pantanal or the Canadian Rockies. It’s not that National Geographic is sending me to Antarctica – quite the opposite in fact: I’m staying in Scotland, a tiny country with a Big Story (that’s the exciting bit).

Years ago I met a Swiss photographer who was passionate about the Serengeti ecosystem. He told me to always make sure I was “doing something” for a place, species or issue about which I was passionate. Ever since that chance meeting, I’ve done exactly that, or at least tried to.

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Competitions with a cause.

Is it me or is there a constant stream of new photography competitions cropping up? Hardly a week goes by these days when I don’t receive yet another invitation to part with some hard-earned and spend a laborious day (or two) preparing and uploading images and (unnecessarily) writing captions, because let’s be clear, entering photography competitions is no quick job.

So why bother?

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A.M.A.N.D.A – Festival Frenzy!

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I recently joined tens of thousands of sweltering, sweaty and very often staggering, music fans on a hot weekend near Kinross. T in the Park is Scotland’s premier music festival and I loved every minute. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it certainly isn’t Pete’s: he doesn’t do big crowds, dancing and happy songs. He does Quo, AC/DC and Molly Hatchett (well at least he did 20 years ago). Continue reading

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A blunt but necessary stick?

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When it comes to resolving conflicts, I’m more a fan of the carrot than the stick. That makes this blog very tricky as it recommends a stick, a big fat heavy one at that. I’ve thought long and hard before posting it. Continue reading

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Pay me with inspiration.

Nature photography can be a tough business and thesedays it’s damned difficult to get even a toehold on the ladder. It’s not always possible but when it is, we like to try and help young photographers/naturalists progress their career and/or personal development. Continue reading

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