Winter now seems like it was such a long time ago. Yet, I was in Glencoe a few weeks ago conducting a photographic workshop and we still had so much ice there that it was possible to walk out to ‘that tree’ – the one everyone photographs on Rannoch moor.
I feel, now that the Summer is approaching fast and the clocks have changed, it’s perhaps time to reflect back on some of the images I made in Glencoe this winter.
Pap of Glencoe
I’d be up in Assynt for a week making images when the first batch of snow hit the UK. The only route down to Edinburgh was via Fort William and Loch Ness. Arriving late in the evening at Ballachulish I knew I had to stop and take a few hours out to make some images. I’d not seen the Pap of Glencoe so covered in snow. Winter is often long here in Scotland and we can still get a ‘chill wind’ in the summer months, but the snow doesn’t often stay.
My hands froze and my camera stopped working after an hour being outside (battery failure), so I retreated to the Glencoe YHA for the evening with hope that I would get a good sunrise the following morning for the Buchalle Etive Mhor. I’ve never photographed it before – often feeling that I would end up with a picture that has been done to death a thousand times before.
Buchalle Etive Beag Roadside
Although I had perfect light the next morning. The entire landscape was in a state of permafrost, and we had such a clear night, my camera failed to keep the shutter open at -17˚ celsius. I remember cursing to myself at my luck! Perfect conditions, frozen river, no photograph.
But I don’t often give up so I came back up a week later to shoot the image above – I didn’t get good light in the morning, but what I did get was a landscape where the ground and the sky were one and the same. I shot the above image near the Buchalle Etive Beag. It was one of those shots I saw on my way back to my car. The tree and the distant hill made for a compelling minimalist shot.
Buchalle Etive Mhor
About another week later, I made a third trip up to Glencoe and found this spot on the edge of the river Etive. I waited here for about an hour in -17˚ again, only to find that when I returned to my car, I couldn’t speak to a fellow photographer I met on the moor. My face was so numb from the cold, it felt like I’d just returned from a trip to the dentists.
Today the sun is shining and we have clouds moving across the landscape so quickly that the light levels fluctuate. It feels like summer is on it’s way, and I’m looking forward to my Eigg workshop in three weeks time. Who knows what the rest of the year holds.