Sunday, 29 April 2012

Callanish Sunset

Callanish Sunset, originally uploaded by

Still on the Isle of Lewis for todays offering, this time catching the final rays of the day with the standing stones at Callanish silhouetted against the colour-rich sunset sky.

What you don't see here is the fun of myself and Mireille running around like crazy behind the camera trying to escape the seventeen million, four hundred and thirty six thousand midgies which were a little unpleased at us occupying "their spot" to watch the sunset.

Midgie bites galore, but well worth it for some of the shots captured of the glorious Hebrides sunset.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Beached, originally uploaded by

Time to go back a little further into my archive of photographs to 2009, and today it's time for Scotland to feature with our countdown to our latest trip sitting at just a little over two weeks away, and more importantly it's time to feature a photograph from what was probably the most enjoyable and relaxing holiday I've taken in the last few years.

Most people head for the warmer climates when it comes to planning holidays, but for myself and Mireille we had our sights firmly set on Scotlands Outer Hebrides. Kicking off on the Isle of Skye we made our way over to the Isle of Lewis and then over the following 2 weeks, worked our way South island hopping all the way down to Barra and Vatersay which is linked to it by a single causeway before making our way North again and back over to the Isle of Skye.

This photograph was taken on the North coast of Lewis, at the beach which sits on the edge of the Atlantic at Port Ness. A rock which had found it's way onto the beach had undergone a transformation over hundreds and thousands of tidal changes into a colourful masterpiece of seaweed, moss and little shells.

Hopefully the weather will play ball for us in May, and we'll have a whole new batch of photos to share with you all from our favourite location of all on the Isle of Skye.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Half Dome (Yosemite National Park, California)

There's nothing quite like sitting back at the end of the Glacier Point road, with Half Dome sticking out like a sore thumb in front of you and just watching the clouds roll overhead on a warm summers day.

Definitely one of my favourite places to visit in California, never mind just within the confines of Yosemite National Park itself.

Colourful Valley Floor

Colourful Valley Floor, originally uploaded by

After having exhausted almost all of the main locations that were on offer to me during my first main stay in Oregon in the second half of 2010, I set my sights a little further afield to allow something new to be added to my ever growing portfolio of landscape images.

It was purely by chance that I even found out about the Painted Hills in Central Oregon, as there was a family event due to take place at one of the other areas that make up the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The story made me check the internet to see where the park was actually located and then while doing a google search a photo from the mid 1970's caught my attention.

A little digging later and I had found some up to date images and the info on how to get there and back and most importantly I was already dropping POI's into my satnav software on the laptop to help guide me to the right spots once I reached the park.

Just heading off to visit such an awesome place wasn't enough for me, by now you'll all be well aware of my crazy daytrips and weekenders which see me cover hundreds or thousands of miles just to take some photos, so I set the alarm for early o'clock in the hope of a nice sunrise over Trillium Lake, which lies just to the South of Mount Hood which itself is located South East of Portland.

Sunrise came and went, and I must admit I was a little disappointed in the lack of colour in the sunrise, but a few decent shots of the morning mist dancing on top of Trillium Lakes surface with Mount Hood's snow covered peak in the background made the early start worthwhile.

Onwards to the Painted Hills as a couple of carloads of weekend fishermen arrived to relax in front of natures spoils, and within a couple of hours I had passed the small town of Mitchell and was turning off the main road into where I hoped the clay-coloured hills would be hiding.

After visiting so many huge mountains the previous year I was kind of expecting a dramatic scene to unfold way off in the distance, but that wasn't the case, after turning a few lefts and rights, all of a sudden the small hillocks to the right of the road started to burst alive with reds and oranges that sparked new energy into me.

As nice as it was, I found myself thinking "surely this isn't it?", and ventured a little further along the snaking road until a small building came into view in the distance over on my left, with an American flag flying above it's roof.

As I was about to pull into the small dirt road that led to the building I had spotted a minute or two before there was something else catching my attention, straight ahead I could already see the sweeping hills with red clay flowing over and under, creating patterns that just screamed out to be photographed.

Considering the painted hills section of John Day National Monument is relatively small with several short and a few medium sized hikes, it just gives more power to the patterns and colours which were on show being 110% of the reason that I spent the entire day there until the sun began to drop documented the changes in the colours and textures as the light changed throughout the day.

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake, originally uploaded by

A couple of days ago I posted up a shot called "Colourful Valley Floor" which was shot during my day at the Painted Hills section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and mentioned that I had started off my day at Trillium Lake where I had hoped to catch a nice sunrise.

That may sound like a simple enough thing to do, but unlike a couple of Flickr contacts I have that live local to Mount Hood and Trillium Lake which lies to it's Southern flank actually being able to see Mount Hood was somewhat of a challenge.

I digress a little, 5 times in total I visited Trillium Lake over a span of around a year, and every single time I stood on the edge of the lake it seemed like someone had pre-ordered a huge batch of clouds or rain to roll in right at that very same moment.

I had almost gave up hope until the long range weather forecast for the weekend ahead back in mid-late June showed clear skies for the coming Saturday. Would this finally be my chance to shoot Mount Hood reflecting on the surface of Trillium Lake, or would the master of clouds and rain dance all over my planning with a wicked smile and dastardly laugh.

As I arrived at the small carpark on the edge of Trillium Lake the sun was just about breaching the horizon and I set the tripod and camera up to capture what I hoped would be a colour filled start to the day. Unfortunately it ended up being a relatively flat sunrise in general, so I opted for some nice arty farty shots of the morning mist rising off the surface of the water, and that reflection shot that had proved oh so elusive for so long!

If anything I would have liked at least a couple of little fluffy clouds to add some more oomph to the sky, but beggers can't be choosers as the old saying goes...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tunnel View (Yosemite National Park)

It may be the most photographed location in Yosemite National Park, but it's not easy to drive on past the small carpark that leaves you standing above the valley floor looking ahead at the huge granite lumps that line it's flanks.

It's one of those locations of the world that many people who have never even had the pleasure in standing there and soaking in the view, yet they still know instinctively where it is.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

What Makes It All Worthwhile

There's always risk when you have the car packed with all your photography gear and set off on a mammoth road trip in the hope that nature will play ball with your best laid plans. Will it be sunny, or cloudy, will it pour with rain, will mist descend so much so that you can barely see past the end of your own nose?

In this particular case it involved me driving for around 8 hours from San Francisco Bay Area to Death Valley, with a few stops along the way to shoot the night sky and milky way in such a wonderful "dark sky" location and then finding my way to my chosen vantage point inside the national park before sunrise.

Fatigue had well and truly set in after the long drive coupled with shooting in absolute darkness for several hours, and I found myself thinking ahead to what the day might bring. As I stepped out of the car at Dantes View high up on the East side of the salt-covered valley floor at Badwater with nothing more than the stars above and the slight outline of the peaks and valleys in the distance, the strong winds and freezing cold temperatures hit me all so much harder than had I been more awake, and jolted me back to reality with an almighty thump.

A quick check of the time, 4.50am, which meant around 90 minutes until the sun was due to pop it's cheery face over the horizon, 90 minutes, "perfect" I thought to myself and set my alarm for 5.30am, time for 40 winks to prepare myself for the day ahead.

It seemed like I had just set the alarm seconds before, but sure enough a quick check of the time showed that I had been off in la-la land for 40 minutes, time to rise and shine. I brought the drivers seat upright again and setpped outside, the sky was still black, albeit with a very feint tinge of blue on the horizon, yes, things were shaping up perfectly, argh, I had forgotten all about the freezing cold winds, quickly, I retreated back to the cozy warmth of the car.

There was around an hour left to go until the sun would rise over the darkness that lay all around me, but already there were signs that nature was starting to put on it's colourful show, with those dark blues in the distance starting to give way to lighter hues minute by minute. Every 5 to 10 minutes I would venture out of the car, layered up to the max (minus a pair of gloves which would REALLY have come in handy, if you can excuse the pun) and shoot some frames of the changing colours whilst trying to stop my tripod and camera from doing an impersonation of a kite flying off into the distance.

In my head I started wondering once again if the sunrise was going to have been worth the torture that only those that have spent a night driving an unfamiliar and uncomfortable hirecar know, and then came the answer.

The silhouettes of the hills still lay shrouded in darkness whilst behind them the sky began to light up with reds, oranges and yellows, warming me up as they danced around, finally I had the answer I had been seeking all night, yes, it had been worth it, I now had an awesome sunrise shot from Death Valley to add to my growing collection of sunset and sunrise photos from around the world.