Where and when?
Torridon, Scotland in September 2020.
The background story
2020 will not be remembered as a golden year for travel. But during that period of (relative) freedom between lockdowns I did manage to get to Scotland for a couple of weeks.
To be honest I have always felt like a bit of a latecomer to Scotland, having only first visited as recently as 2016. But since then I have been back almost every year and on this occasion Torridon was top of the list.
Spend enough time in Scotland and you come to realise that preparation is essential but it still only gets you so far. You also need a decent sized chunk of luck when it comes to getting ideal conditions for photography.
I was really rolling the dice on this particular occasion. We were only two days into the trip and it was my first time to the region. Loch Coulin was on my list of places to visit but I had no specific ideas as to good compositions or viewpoints other than suggestions offered up by Instagram.
Further, I was caught out by an unexpectedly good forecast – a clear, dry morning with a chance of frost – which meant no time for a recce. In Scotland you take that kind of forecast every day of the week and so it was an early start and a 45 minute drive in the dark from our B&B in Lochcarron.
How it came together
The forecast was not only accurate but better than suggested. It was one of the most beautiful autumn mornings I have experienced: cold, crisp, frosty and with traces of mist. I’m not sure if I have ever witnessed “perfect” sunrise conditions but this came close.
Having spent some time shooting at the side of Loch Clair we walked further into the Coulin Estate where frost was clinging to the ferns. I wanted to incorporate their zig-zagging nature in the scene so set up a composition using portrait orientation to add a sense of depth, with the ferns leading the eye to the loch.
The colour palette was sublime. Green grass, blue sky, copper in the ferns, orange and gold in the trees and even a little purple heather. The last of the mist was just burning off so you could see clearly across the water.
Why is it a favourite?
I talk a lot in this series about having good fortune when it comes to landscape photography. This shot is a favourite because it represents one of those rare days when I got lucky.
For a first time visit, I was elated with the result. The same scene with different conditions and light would have looked completely different. I was in the right place at the right time and the scene revealed itself to me without too much effort.
It’s also a reminder of why I love visiting Scotland so much because on its day, when everything falls into place, it really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Moments like this certainly make up for all the moody, overcast Highland scenes I’ve shot!
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