Harris Workshop - May 28-June 2

I'm off to the Isle of Harris at the end of the month for a week workshop. I come here every year now - because I love the space and the beaches are a real study in minimalism. The workshop only has a few spaces left for those of you who would be interested in coming along.

Just back.... and popping out again

Hi all, I'm just back from the fabulous isle of Eigg. I ran a nice small workshop there last week - hi to Adam, Brigitte, Dave & Pete.

As is usual with a great trip of any sort, I feel like I've returned from Mars. I can't help feeling 'did it really happen?'

We had a slight mishap with the Council deciding that no vehicles from outsiders are allowed on the island any more, so we had to make do with borrowing a vehicle for our early morning jaunts down to Laig bay. Eddie kindly gave us a lift a few nights along the small 1 mile track to the bay too.

I thought it would be cool to put up a little contact sheet showing a collection of images created by everyone on the trip. We had a fair mixture of 'weather' , most of which is 'good'. Seldom is weather 'bad' for photography unless it causes problems with keeping filters and lens elements dry.

I had a great time though. Workshops tend to be as good as the people who come on them, and you get out of a trip what you're prepared to put in. Everyone without exception on this trip got into the spirit of the week. I'm a little shell shocked to be home now, but I'm excited to think I'll be going back in September for another trip.

I'll probably not be on the blog much for the next few weeks. I'm away at the end of the week to the outer Hebrides for some 'me time'. Just me and my camera and a stack of Velvia. Wish me luck. Until I'm back on the blog good and proper, good luck with your own photography.

Glencoe weekend Workshop!

Just a quick note to let you know that a new Glencoe weekend workshop is now available for booking. Dates are 1st to the 3rd of October. The weekend trips are very popular. The Torridon trip for October is mostly sold out now, so if you're interested in coming, details are available here and you can book here

Torridon Weekend - Only 2 spaces left

I've got a weekend workshop lined up for Torridon this October - 15th to the 17th. The trip is now almost full - there are currently only 2 spaces left. If you want to come, more details can be found here. But be quick, as it's going to sell out :-)

If you want to reserve a space - email me.

Eigg and Chips anyone?

I'm off to the Isle of Eigg this April to conduct a workshop there for 5 days. It's a super island, with perhaps the most stunning / photogenic beaches in Scotland. I have a few places left, if you are interested in coming. The dates are April 19th to the 24th, and the price is £899. All transport, food and accommodation on the island are included in this, plus tuition by yours truly.

If you are interested in this trip, it's best to book as soon as you can, as I will have to close the final booking list  for this soon. to find out more information about this trip and view the gallery - you can see it here.

To see testimonials from my previous trip to Eigg, then you can view them here. As you will see, the group I had last year had a terrific time.

Workshop Review

For those of you who would like to get an insight into my workshops, Norrie who participated on the January Glencoe trip has written up his account on his web site. You can find it here. Needless to say, it's a good review and it was very nice of Norrie to get in touch with me to let me know about it.

I love doing the workshops. It's great to be able to pass something on, and see someone 'get' it. I particularly like Norman's processing of this image - it looks very natural. Some digital images can be over-processed. The green rocks in the foreground by the way, were really that vibrant - I brought them to the attention of everyone on the trip that weekend - what the camera sees and what we see are often not the same thing.

Glencoe Masterclass

Hi All, For those of you who have decided to come on the Glencoe workshop this March (but haven't told me yet!), now is the time to let me know of your intentions.

The dates are March 13th to the 17th and more information can be found here.

And a nice sexy gallery of images can be found here also.

Skye Portfolio

Well, I know this must seem like I'm pumping out the photos at the moment, but it's not often like that for me.

Skye Portfolio

Part of the Storr

So to get to the chase, here is a new portfolio from Skye.

There are often spells of what seem like 'inactivity' to others, but for me, it's actually the opposite - if you're seeing me on the blog a lot, it's because I'm not out shooting! And if you don't hear from me on my blog for a while - it's because, well, you know - I'm out there practicing what we all love to do when we get some time.

I was up in Skye about a week ago for 3 or 4 days. I'd booked another trusty camper van for the trip, and almost didn't go. So bad were the weather warnings and advice not to leave home unless it is absolutely necessary. So I went!

The weather was pretty mild, but the landscape was still arctic. For those of you know know Skye well, the river at Sligachan had around seven inches of ice on it. I wasn't quite sure sometimes if I was standing on the ice or firm ground while roaming with my camera.

Skye Workshop

So you won't be surprised that I'm now offering a workshop to Skye for this December (3-8). This trip is strictly limited to 4 people as I thought it would be nice to do a much more intimate group size. The hotel we will be staying at is not far away from the Storr, and caters for 5 people max.

As I type, it looks like there is now currently only 1 space left on this trip, so if you're interested in coming, email me for more details.

Isle of Arran Workshop announcement

Hi all,

Isle of Arran - August 23 to 28th, 2010

Just a quick note to let you all know that I've finalised the date and price for a forth coming workshop to the Isle of Arran.

Pirate Bay, Arran

Arran is a fairly large island with some interesting geological features, particularly on the coast, some nice waterfalls and plenty of standing stones too. They call it 'Scotland in minature'. It's a subtle island, not as craggy or as dramatic as Skye for instance, but it has its own charm, and it is certainly one of those places that you have to spend time discovering its subtle landscape - as I did this year.

Landscape Photographers

Many thanks to Dudley, who was on my Harris workshop this November for sending me this today. me in the Landscape

What I love about the workshops is that everyone has their own style, and interest in photography. Dudley had spent most of his time up until the Harris workshop doing portraiture and flash. As is often the case, I find people coming on my trips who aren't obvious landscape photographers - as you can see here - Dudley was far too interested in taking pictures of the rest of the group (me included) while we were busy making images.

In September I had a group of photographers from all over - Australia, America, Denmark, Switzerland.... and the same thing applied. Christian is an architect by trade and said to me on his first day that he was 'interested in architecture, but not really landscape'.Image © Christian Egedius Bendtsen

By the end of the trips however, I had two converts: Christian was enthusiastic about the landscape and from what I saw of his work - had  'got it'.

Likewise with Dudley - for someone who'd only been into portraiture and flash, I think the trip had awakened a realisation that there was a landscape photographer inside him.

Image © Dudley Williams

Needless to say, I'm not used to being the subject of a photograph, but I'm going to have to get used to it, as I'm sure it's not the last time someone on my workshops wants to 'document' the trip.  :-)

I love this triptych that Dudley has put together of me though - even though I seem to have bandy legs, or a strange way of standing behind my camera!

Torridon Workshop Sold out

For those of you wishing to come on the Torridon weekend trip this January, it is now sold out. Cul Mor & Stac Pollhaid, Assynt & Inverpolly

I have 1 space left for the February weekend trip to Glencoe, but other than that, the remaining trips available for 2011 are 5 day affairs, which give you a much more concentrated time to absorb the scenery, improve your skills, and get really familiar with being outside shooting in all kinds of light.

I'm currently in Assynt at the moment, and will be here until the 22nd, photographing the local area. The light is spectacular at the moment, and I've just secured a nice little workshop with the Assynt Foundation for January 2011. This trip is going to be a maximum of 4 people, including myself. We will be staying at the Glencanisp lodge, which is in the heart of Assynt with stunning views right across to Suilven. More details to follow once I'm home and have time to work out the schedule and details for this trip.

Torridon Workshop - 2 spaces left

For those of you who were considering coming along on the weekend workshop to Torridon this January 22nd - 24th, there are only 2 spaces left. Grab them for a christmas present (to yourself perhaps?) while you can :-)

Slioch

These photos were taken last week while I was away with a private client for the week up in the north west.

Loch Clair, Torridon

It will be interesting to see what the light brings this January, as January - March can often be some of the coldest / frosty times of the year here in Scotland.

Upper Loch Torridon

Arran & Harris Contact Sheet

I think as I go on, I'm becoming more attracted to form and tone.

It's becoming more and more apparent to me when I put these 'contact sheets' together, that there is a simplification in the compositions and the colour components to my recent work. It perhaps started with Bolivia this year.

So here is a contact sheet of the images I've shot recently on the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Harris too.

I'm in the process of setting up a workshop for Arran. It's not an obvious landscape to photograph and requires some work; lacking immediately dramatic craggy mountains, you have to go looking for the subjects in a much more studied way.

I'm off to Asynt next week - in a camper van. I have to meet up with the BBC for an interview, and then I'll be trying to photograph the north, north west of Scotland over 9 days.

An exercise in minimalism

One of the things that we spent a lot of time covering on the Harris workshop was to try to keep the compositions simple.

Beaches are perfect places for studying minimalism. Expansive places with smooth tonality, beaches are often places where it's easy to observe light at its simplest level.

I remember being blown away (literally) by the smooth textures combined with the speed of the clouds as they raced across the beaches on Harris.

Now, after a few days of being home, Harris has taken on a dreamlike visual memory for me. I can remember the wind on my face, the sound of the sea, and the great wide open spaces. But most of all, I remember the light in the early mornings, which was very special.

I know the group and myself felt that we got a lot of really dramatic light. But I also feel I got a chance to make much more simplistic compositions too.

Workshop news & other stories

Isle of Harris Workshop
I'm just back from the isle of Harris, in the far north of Scotland, where I've been conducting a workshop for the past four days.

It's been a great adventure for the group and myself and I've really enjoyed the company (thanks Dudley, Jim, Kevin Lynne, Peter & Stuart).
The UK has been battered by severe weather conditions with extreme rain and wind. For some reason, the far north west of the country managed to avoid most of the terrifying weather. On Harris we had a lot of dramatic and changeable light, very worthy of a photograph (or twenty). Sure we had our fair share of rain too, but overall, we were able to shoot in some amazing locations with really inspiring light.
This trip has made me more convinced that there is no such thing as 'bad weather' and I've just ordered a 'storm jacket' for my trusty Mamiya 7II camera. It's well used to getting wet, but I thought it would perhaps help in shielding the ND Grad filters from the rain a little bit more.
Isle of Arran
I spent a week on the isle of Arran doing some further research for some photographic workshops I intend to do here in 2010. I always prefer to put money back into the local communities when I can, so I stayed at the Kilmory Bunk house which turned out to be a great place to base a workshop in. So I'm in the process of working out final details for two workshops here in 2010 (I also have Asynt and Skye in the pipeline too).
Don't you think it looks like a snake? slithering into the water?
Pirate Bay - a special place on Arran.
Apple
As excited as I was that Apple were looking at my work, my portfolio was returned to me recently. No reply from them, so I had to e-mail to ask if I was in the running. Sadly, I didn't make the grade, but a good friend of mine (Hi Darren!), pointed out that at least - I'm now on their radar, so perhaps someday, they'll use my images. Time will tell.
BBC Radio Scotland
If all goes well, I will be meeting up with Mark Stevens from BBC Radio Scotland's 'Out of Doors' radio program in Asynt during December for a wee chat with the intention of our ramblings being broadcast sometime later on in the month. I'll let you know if / when this is broadcast - so you can tune in.
Island Hopping
I feel the future for me is a Scottish one. As much as I have traveled extensively over the past decade, I'm finding that my own back yard has so much potential for photography that I've just firmed up dates for an outer Hebridean tour this January. Courtesy of a camper van, I'll be heading onto the islands for two weeks with my camera and trusty iPod for company, to make some winter photographs.
Scotland is my home, and I only really found out just how wonderful it was by traveling abroad. Being away has given me a new set of eyes and I feel this is where I'm going to focus my efforts on for the time being...... Where Scotland is concerned, I feel I've only just begun.

Workshop Review

I'm just back from Torridon, where I had a very enjoyable weekend conducting a photographic workshop with six enthusiastic photographers.

Michael, who was on the course, has been in touch today to tell me he's written a review of the weekend.

Image © Michael Marten

I always come home from a workshop with something new that I've learned myself.

It's easy I guess for folks who haven't been on a workshop to assume that the teacher is the 'all-knowing' one, but that simply isn't true. All I can do is pass on what I know, and how I do what I do, but other than that, the trip is a setting for folk to get involved and discuss ideas and try new things.

The trip becomes a melting pot of ideas and for me - that's great. I love to see everyone get involved - it's a much more engaging exchange if everyone is contributing and as my friend Andrew said :  a workshop is successful if the group are up for putting effort into it.

This weekend, we had terrible weather and as much as I thought it might be a 'wash-out', the attitude of the group was extremely positive and we went out - regardless of the conditions - and came back each day with a lot of very surprising and powerful images.

So I thought I'd show some images from the weekend:

Image © John Black

John took this at Loch Claire on Saturday morning. It had been tipping down most of the night and when we left in the morning, the sky was full of rain and it didn't look like things would improve, but John was positive and said that things could change : and they did. We had a very beautiful morning at loch Claire and it just goes to show that if you don't go : you don't get. So no matter what the weather - you have to go out and see what happens.

Image © Mabel Forsyth

Mabel shot this near Sheildaig at the edge of upper loch Torridon. I think the 'soft focus' effect was created by her camera and filters being so wet from the previous days shoot - and it has a Charles Rennie Mackintosh feel to it.

Image © Teresa Reddy

Teresa shot this not too far away from Mabel's Rennie Mackintosh photo, and this just goes to show that exploring your location can really make a huge benefit. I noticed throughout the weekend that Teresa was 'an individual'. If the group were at one spot, she was often at an entirely different area. The crop I feel is due to me showing the group different crops and this is something I borrowed from Andrew Fackle who was on my Eigg workshop. It just goes to show that one thing leads on to another.

Image © Louise Black

Louise took my advice about looking for foreground interest and she found it in the colour of the red kelp seaweed at Upper Loch Torridon, despite it being a rather miserable day. Very soft, overcast light often makes vegetation and seaweed colours 'sing'.

Image © Stephen Kowal

Stephen really went to town looking for leading lines in this location. I've shot at this spot a few times in the past, but the light on this occasion was dramatic. Windswept horizontal rain was predominantly the order of the day and everyone was soaking, but happy. From my perspective, I always worry that folks feel they're being forced to go out in driving rain to make pictures, but what I find funny is that it's often hard to get them to come back to the van with 'just one more shot left to make'..... being the usual reply I get from them. Love the leading in stream Stephen.

Workshop Image

On each workshop I do, we tend to spend some time doing a critique on the images made during our time together. A few weekends ago, I spent some time with a group in Glencoe and there was one image from the entire weekend that really stood out for me.

This image was shot by Kieron Monahan - a photographer from London. He shot this on a morning where there was a temperature inversion - the part of the moor we were standing in was in a dip where fog had collected... and unbeknown to us all,  we were just a few hundred meters away from sun light!

I've been in touch with Kieron for over a year now and so it was really nice that he felt that he wanted to come up and spend time on the trip with me and the others. His images are very different from what I do as you will see from his website www.kieronmonahan.com.

Photography has many surprises in store for us all, and certainly, conducting workshops - can often find me as surprised as anyone else on the trip at seeing something new.

I always learn something, or come away from the trip feeling I've had a different perspective on how a scene should be shot, and Kieron's image of the lochan at the base of Blackmount on Rannoch Moor is perhaps one of the most unusual shots I've ever seen of it.

South America Safaris 2010

I'm pleased to announce that I'm going back to Bolivia, Easter Island and also Patagonia next year to conduct some photographic safaris. These trips are being run in conjunction with Andean Trails, one of the UK's leading South America travel companies.

Bolivia - March 24 to 29

El arbol de piedra

I loved the Bolivian Aliplano, It's certainly one of the strangest and captivating landscapes I've witnessed to date, so I'm really excited about going back in 2010 to do this trip.

We will have our own private 4WD Jeep and guide to take us around some of the most remote regions of southern Bolivia.

This trip is priced at USD 2200 / £1,466 per person, twin room occupancy.

For more information please see the bolivia safari page on my site.

Autumn in Patagonia - April 3 - 10

Spring in Patagonia - October 2 - 9

The Turquoise colours Lago Pehoe What can I say? Torres del Paine is one of my favourite places in the world, and I'm always looking for an excuse to go back ;-)

This years trip was a blast. I had such a great bunch of people on the trip and it was full of non-stop-laughter and photo-taking.

I have two trips lined up for this - April which is Autumn time in the park, and October which is early Spring time. Both of these trips will offer a different view of the park and so I can only really suggest you pick which one takes your fancy. The weather is often unpredictable at any time of the year, and this is one of the reasons why shooting in Torres del Paine can be a compelling experience.

This trip is priced at $4410.00 USD / £2954.70

Price based on a group of four participants. If there are more than this then the price will drop accordingly. Price based on two sharing a room. Single rooms available for a supplement price.

For more information, please go to the following pages:

Patagonia Autumn safari Trip Patagonia Spring safari Trip

Easter Island

This one is in the pipe-line, but it is expected to coincide with the Patagonian Spring Safari in October 2010. I don't have any firm dates or prices for this one at the moment, but will publish dates when it's finalised.

Stone Circle, Moai & Rano Raraku

Eigg Workshop Images

I had a great time conducting a workshop on the Isle of Eigg mid September. It's always a very social time for me - there's nothing better than spending a week engrossed in photography with a bunch of like-minded individuals. I always come home from the experience feeling that I've made new friends. The only downside I can see to conducting a workshop is not having enough time to make my own images. This is understandable because the point about the workshop is that I spend time with the participants. However, it often works that many of the guys on the trip get so engrossed in what they're doing, that I have to take a step back and disappear for a while and let them get on with being creative. That's when I'm able to make my own images.

So here are a few examples from my recent trip on Eigg. I hope you enjoy them. I'm going back to Eigg next April for a workshop there. Perhaps you might be tempted? ;-)

Minimalism

Leading LinesPrimary Colours

Towards the mainlandZig ZagGeology Time