Monday, 23 October 2017


Beinn an Eoin & Loch Lurgain
Anyone who regularly follows my blog will no doubt realise that landscape photography is a major passion of mine. Hillwalking and photography go hand in hand for many mountain goers.  I  started out my photography many years ago with small compact film cameras then progressing onto SLR equipment and slide film.  Since digital I have owned numerous cameras from compact to Micro Four Thirds which have fantastic quality for their size and weight. My latest camera is a full size Mirrorless. This is a major step up in quality if you are looking at getting into publishing. In all the years of photography I have never had any formal tuition. Until last week.
I treated myself and enrolled on a Colin Prior Photography Workshop last week. Colin is the most well known and respected landscape photographer in the UK. If you look at one of his spectacular images on calenders, books and prints you will no doubt instantly recognise it as his work.
The workshop was based up in Ullapool for 5 days with 8 other folk on the course. What finer place in the world could you wish to be?
Here's our journey in photos through the Torridon and Assynt area over the last five days.

Liathach and Loch Clair
 From Inverness we headed up to our base for the week at Ullapool. On route we drove up Glen Torridon to photograph the mighty Liathach from the shores of Loch Clair. The light wasn't great with cloud cover so a bit flat. This is one of the classic views of this stunning peak.
Slioch & Loch Maree
After lunch it was  a drive down Loch Maree with the impressive Slioch to view and shoot. There are some lovely Caledonian Pines scattered in the foreground of the loch and another classic image to try and master in the flat light. One of the main reasons for me signing up on this course was to get more knowledge of the manual settings. Most of my images tend to be on auto. 

Cul Mor with Orograpic Cloud
We drove north of Ullapool and into the Coigach and Assynt area. These stunning mountains are relatively low in altitude but every inch a mountain! It was overcast and flat light again but we regularly kept getting some quite spectacular, atmospheric cloud breaking over the tops. It was a case of stopping and shooting!
The Old Man of Stoer
Just like when planning a hillwalk, keeping an eye on the weather forecasts is crucial to get the best out of photography. With a poor forecast again we headed over to the Assynt coast and parked up at Clachtoll. From here there are some great coastal scenes. Big cliffs and a sea stack, The Old Man of Stoer. This sandstone stack is even better with big waves but storm Brian didn't reach the Highlands.
Sunset in Strath Canaird
We got a slight sunset on the way back to our base in Ullapool. In the end we had a dry day so all good.

Wonderful lichen covered rocks
Friday dawned a bit wet and low cloud. The afternoon was forecast to be much brighter and drier. We had a three hour indoor tuition session looking at the technical aspects of landscape photography. This is where Colin's skills and knowledge really kick in. We also covered post editing in Lighroom and Photoshop software. The main point that Colin got across to us was to get the image right in the camera.
Autumn colours in the sun
After our tutorial we headed outdoors and the lovely coastline west of Stac Pollaidh. Even in dull weather there are some great subjects to shoot. We found some wonderful lichen covered rocks down at the beach beyond Stac Pollaidh.
Suilven in beautiful afternoon light

Stac Pollaidh from the west
By 5pm the skies had cleared and we were treated to some wonderful light just west of Stac pollaidh. Light really is the key for stunning looking images. Autumn light with it's vivid colours is just wonderful. The 'golden hour' has we call it.  We savoured it all and probably the finest period so far this week.

Colin Prior at work
What is the word for a collection of photographers?
Orograpic Cloud over Cul Mor
One of the highlights of the course was to get up Stac Pollaidh to shoot sunrise. Unfortunately the weather all week had been a lot of cloud, rain or wind. Today looked like the best chance of a sunrise but the wind was going to be an issue. When I say wind we're talking about speeds that have an impact on camera and tripod shake, not struggling up a mountain. Also known as 'noise'  the wind will leave you with poor quality images. We set off in the vehicles at 5.45am but it was already raining and the cloud was down, the wind was too strong. It was plan B. We headed down to Enard Bay and a short walk along the coastline to get to a great shooting point of the Assynt and Coigach hills stretched out in a long line.
Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag, Beinn Eoin at dawn
 The rain ceased just as dawn was creeping in the skies. The clouds partially cleared enough for a half decent shoot. Some impressive Orographic Cloud again over Cul Mor and Cul Beag.
Sunrise over Stac Pollaidh
 After breakfast we had another indoor session. We spent a couple of hours on critique with some of our images we had shot this week. This was a valuable time and some great advice. After this it was back out on the road. The skies had now cleared and it was a beautiful warm day. We headed over toward Lochinver for more shooting toward Suilven and Quinag.
Quinag's three Corbett summits
Dusk on Suilven

Loch Broom before the rain

Rivers flowing at Dundonnell
Our final day was the wettest of the entire week. Quite lucky really. It could have been wet every day. We never got our glorious sunrises, our clear skies and our still air but we got some decent images. More importantly I gained lots  more knowledge and experience of the  technical aspects of photography.
A fantastic 5 days and I would highly recommend going on one of Colin Prior's workshops. He's also a top bloke and great company.

Images  taken with a Fujifilm XT-2 camera. Lenses: Fuji X 10-28mm & 100-400mm

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