A couple of weeks ago, I made my regular trip up to the Scottish Highlands. I decided this time to stop off at two areas I haven’t previously visited, the Lake District and Glencoe. Of course, both areas are well known for their possibilities for the landscape photographer. I was never going to get any award winning shots from either area, with just two one night stopovers overlooking Ullswater and three nights at the Clachaig Inn, at the top end of Glencoe, but it was a chance to do some scouting. The weather on the way up was atrocious, with visibility being so low, that I was barely able to see the mountains surrounding the two stopovers, not exactly ideal conditions for expansive landscapes. Luckily, the weather cleared during my week at the main destination, the Aigas Field Centre. I’m pretty well known up there now and I always feel at home. I don’t really need the photography tuition that was provided by Laurie Campbell, but this time there was a greater focus on fieldcraft, with the chance of stalking deear and feral goats, always useful practice, even if it isn’t always successful.
Because the focus was more on fieldcraft, I actually took less photographs (which also meant less to process and sift through), but I was able to get some shots I was more than happy with. Probably the highlight for me were some studio shots, as I was able to practice with some flash work, something I rarely do. Also useful for me were stalking some feral goats and also a stag that disappeared while we were out of view and building an improvised hide from available material.
Of course, there was also the chance of photographing the resident pine martens at the Aigas Field Centre. Last winter, they resited one of the hides, so that it was suitable for viewing wild pine martens. The whole area was designed with photography in mind, so suitable natural perches and trunks were installed. Also, the portholes of the hide were able to be lifted up, so that the martens could be photographed without having to shoot through glass. Of course, the downside was increased risk of disturbance from the camera shutter. As a consequence of the preparations, I was able to get my sharpest shots of martens to date and even tried some flashwork. I really put my 135 mm f/2 to good use and the f/2 proved invaluable, more so than the flash, with the 5D MkII providing very clean, sharp images. The 7D however, was less successful, as it seems like some lens microadjustment in needed.
All in all, the usual successful and enjoyable trip. I always enjoy being in the Scottish Highlands and particularly enjoy staying at the Aigas Field Centre. For anyone considering staying there, they offer a great variety of activities, not just photography, but also wildlife (including specific bird and mammal, as well as general programmes) and archaeology weeks. Next year, they also have a variety of special weeks and weekends in their programme.