Landscape Photographer of the Year awards!

I was sitting editing a wedding on Saturday afternoon when my email beeped... Now, I'm not normally easily distracted when I've got my wediting groove on, but I'm glad I took a peek at this one. It seems that I've been exceptionally fortunate and had a photograph has won the Classic View category of this year's Landscape Photographer of the Year competition! 

It's always gratifying when people enjoy your work, but to have been granted an award of this size in a competition judged by some of the most respected landscape photographers in the country is just stunning! My photograph not only topped the Classic View category but was also selected as the Judge's Choice by Steve Watkins from Outdoor Photography magazine. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to buy him a pint at the opening of the exhibition in London in November.

I've spent a long time on the road this year, researching, writing and shooting for the Photographing Scotland guidebook that I'm writing. The book should be finished and with the editors at fotoVUE for fact checking and laying out soon, so opening that email this afternoon has been a huge motivational boost to get out there and finish off the last few locations I want to visit before signing off on the project. If you think you might be interested in the book once it's in print (early spring 2017) then there's a newsletter sign-up below. And of course, should you fancy a print of a photograph that was already close to my heart, that can be arranged too!



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Book Progress

It's been a long time in the making, but things are finally starting to take shape on the Photographing Scotland guidebook that I've been working on for the last two years. It's not all been plain sailing, but as they say, "a calm sea does not make for a skilled sailor." Regardless of the weather, the start of the  month saw the demise of my trusty campervan, which decided to break down at the furthest point from Glasgow of the trip.

Since then I've replaced the van, and taken the new machine out for its first test run, staying relatively local in glen Coe and Glen Etive for the first time out. The very first morning of the trip saw one of the most spectacular sunrises I've ever witnessed, with a perfect temperature inversion around the Bauchaille and Glen Etive! 

The morning just kept getting better and better... The light once the sun broke the horizon was incredible, and I eventually trudged down the hill with some of the best landscape photographs I've taken in a while.

The conditions prevailed through the whole of the first trip, and I had a great time on Rannoch Moore and down Glen Etive, ticking off locations and writing up notes for the Scotland Guidebook. Maybe it's an omen, and the new van will bring a little luck! Or maybe it's just coincidence. I'm hitting the road again tomorrow for a few weeks, so fingers crossed for more of the same either way.

The Outer Hebrides

The Commute

It's a tough life, being a landscape photographer. All the driving, the cleg bites, the knowledge that the midges are almost here for the summer... All in all though, when you consider it, the office space more than makes up for the 04:30 starts and the 22:00 finishes, especially when you packed lunch contains a bar of chocolate and a miniature of cask strength Laphroaig.

I'm not long back from spending two and a half weeks on the road shooting landscapes for a long-term project that I'm working on. Being able to go away and focus on nothing but getting the shots I wanted was stunning: it's amazing what you can achieve in a couple of weeks with a little planning and a lot of bloody-minded alarm-setting!

The weather wasn't wonderful for the first few days of the trip so rather than pushing through to the islands immediately I meandered north, meeting a few friends and ticking a few landscape boxes I've wanted to tick for a while. The Buachaille, for example: everyone has a photograph of the Buachaille, but perhaps for that very reason it's very difficult to find a shot that you feel is your own. And Ben Dorainn was one of the very first places I ever went specifically just to take a photograph and has been overdue a re-visit for some time.

Ben Dorain

The Buachaille

I started at the southern end of the islands on Barra and Vatersay. It took a day or two to get into the groove, but Barra is definitely the place to be if you're trying to relax into your photography again. It was an act of discipline to catch the ferry on the saturday morning to head north for Harris and Lewis... there's just so much to see and to shoot out there, you could easily spend weeks on Barra alone.

One of the nice things about shooting landscapes is that you're often at a location either very early or very late to catch the best of the light. When I turned up at Callanish at 05:45 one morning  I was kind of expecting to have the place to myself: it was 05:45 - it's not the most sociable of hours. The sky was perfect, shaping up for an incredibly intense sunrise too: perfect.

Except for the 30 or so folks all stood holding hands in a ring within the main circle chanting to each other! There's not a lot you can do about that sort of thing (apparently it's bad karma to chase them off), but I've never seen so much stone hugging and sun worship in the literal sense.

I shall spare you more stories here, instead here's a few selected highlights from the trip: personal favourites, as they stand for the moment. Hope that you enjoy them, and if you do then spread the word and be sure to check out my facebook page.