Four hours ago I was stood barely upright on Stac Pollaidh, one of Scotland’s most characterful mountains. Such was the ferocity of the wind at my back, I almost needed to crawl into the lee of the hill to gain some respite and a chance to drink in the spectacular views over Inverpolly Forest. Of course ‘forest’ is an ironic and misleading term as there is barely a tree to be seen for miles and miles…and miles.
Posted in Conservation, In the field, Opinion, Uncategorized
Tagged Assynt, buzzard, Coigach, forest, Frank Fraser Darling, kestrel, Mark Bekoff, mountain, rewilding, Rewilding Our Hearts, Scotland, snow, stac pollaidh, The Big Picture, trees, Trees for Life, wind, wolves
Benviebooks: For people who know their art from their elbow.
Oh yes that’s clever.
It’s not often that you feel compelled to smile whilst reading a book on nature photography. That book has to be out of the ordinary and by implication, so does its author. When friend and colleague Niall Benvie sent me his latest eBook, You Are Not a Photocopier, I knew I’d need a cup of tea and a few choccie digestives (sorry Niall but if you’d wanted me to accompany the reading with Charlotte’s chocolates, you should have sent some).
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.
Posted in Amanda, Photo-tours, Uncategorized
Tagged Ballintean, Christmas, crested tits, Glasgow, Peter Cairns, photo-tours, photographic hides, photography, Queen, red squirrels, Steading
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?
Posted in In the field, Photo-tours
Tagged 2016, Cairngorms, Canadian Rockies, holidays, Iceland, landscapes, ospreys, photo-tours, photography, puffins, Scotland, Sutherland, Torridon, wildlife
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.
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.
Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized
Tagged beach, coast, landscape, marine, Mark Hamblin, north, rewilding, Sandwood Bay, Scotland, Sutherland, The Big Picture, winter
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.
Posted in Conservation, Opinion
Tagged bog, communication, conservation, eagles, forests, photography, rewilding, salmon, Scotland, The Big Picture, values, wetlands, whales
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?
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