Traigh Mhor (revisited)

Why is it, that a lot of landscape photographers love to shoot beaches?

I've noticed that if I go onto most photo sites, there's a predominant selection of beach scenes. Is it because they're easy to shoot? Or is it because they're highly attractive, taking us away from our every day normal view point of roads, hills, places that are fairly static? Beaches are magical places and they are great to study composition at a very simplistic level.

I've found myself shooting a lot more coastal scenes this year, which I feel is mainly due to visiting places such as the outer hebrides here in Scotland. The beaches are some of the most beautiful to be found in the northern hemisphere.

In some respects, I'm looking forward to Ethiopia simply because it will be a big change. Scotland is an amazing place, with some of the best landscapes that I've witnessed. I just think that sometimes, we need to push ourselves into shooting something different and new. Besides, I love making pictures of people, so I fully expect to come home from Ethiopia with a lot of new portraits.

However, the beaches on the isle of Barra were very photogenic indeed. Most of these shots were taken on the same stretch of beach over three different evenings. I have to keep telling workshop participants that repeat visits to a location are a must and that each encounter often brings something new. One of the shots though, is of the Cockle Strand - a wide flat beach that the plane lands on (something I've promised myself - a plane flight to Barra to land on the beach there). The airport is only a stroll away from Traigh Mhor - the main beach you see in these shots, so I fully envisage taking my camera and a rucsack with stove, tent and sleeping bag later on in the year.

Traigh Mhor

At the north tip of Barra is one of the most beautiful beaches I've encountered on the outer Hebrides. I went here on several evenings to see what I could do with such a minimalist location.

I took along with me my Contax 645 and left my Mamiya 7II at home. I feel it's the only way to really get into a new camera : leave behind what I'm used to otherwise I'll opt for it every time.

I didn't feel that enthused for most of my trip away. I found myself sleeping a lot and just reading books. I thought at the time it was because I was just so burned out from all the workshops and business things that have been going on this year for me. But I do remember getting all hot and excited about this shot when I saw it. So this brings to mind that sometimes we're just not inspired because we're either just tired or the landscape isn't providing anything at that particular moment that you can connect with.

I think it's very easy to blame the location. Oh, there's nothing here. When what we're often really saying is 'I can't see anything here'. I am the problem. I am not receptive. I am walking around with my eyes shut :-)