What's it like in winter? Is it true that it doesn't really get light? How do you cope?
These are some more of the questions often asked by friends and visitors and to be fair, they are the exact same questions we asked before we moved to 58 degrees North. But to really appreciate what it is like, you really have to experience it for yourself.
As a photographer of course, the light is everything. Yes daytime hours are short and so you have to make the most of what's on offer. This is not as simple as one might think, when the wind is 60mph+ and the rain is horizontal, no matter how dramatic the mountains look, it takes a lot of motivation to get going.
It's not always like that though, and some days we do actually get to see a bright light in the sky.
It's impossible to describe how amazing the light is on those days. The sun is so low in the sky that it barely seems to clear the ridge of the mountains before descending again. Being so low and with cold clear skies with no pollution, the impact on the landscape is truly amazing. The mountains and hillsides are bathed in richly saturated colours often reflected on the still surfaces of the lochs, and no words could do justice to the splendour of the Kyle of Durness, particularly at low tide.
I've always been an advocate of slowing down during photography sessions. Using a tripod helps and allows time for working on a composition. What's in? What's out? any distracting features along any edges? However, there is another benefit, it enables you to actually take in the wonder in front of you. Listen to the flow of the water in the burn. See how the light plays on the different textures in the landscape. Listen to your surroundings. Yes, I've been an advocate of 'Mindfulness' for years, much longer than it was known by that label. At the end of the day, if you come away with a good photograph then that's a bonus. If you come away more relaxed and fulfilled than you set off then that's a win.
Then the sun suddenly appeared from behind the clouds and cast the most beautiful light across Beinn Spionnaidh. Thankfully the lightshow lasted long enough (about 5 minutes) for me to setup the camera and capture this image. What I found appealing is that in using a longer focal length I was able to remove any fine detail which might have been distracting, and instead concentrating on the effect which the graduated tones had on the 'layered' form of the mountains. A 'low-key' processing seems to suite the image and for me at least, provide a wonderful reminder of how it was in 'that moment'.