Loch Ard lies in a valley to the west of Aberfoyle in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. And it’s photographic heaven! There are plenty of locations to explore so there should be something here for any landscape photographer. More details after the jump…
When I was researching Loch Ard, I came across this guide by David Mould. It was a great help in my planning and I don’t intend to plagiarise it here! Instead, I’m going to explain which parts of the area I honed in on.
I was here in August and having read David’s guide, my instinct was to capture an image of Ben Lomond across the loch at sunrise. Having not driven up the side of the loch before I wanted to scout the area beforehand so I wasn’t trying to pin down the ideal location at 5am! In all the places highlighted in the guide I was thinking “ooh, that’s nice…”. I got as far as Ledard Fields before turning around, having chosen the view I wanted. It was an evening with a clear sky and the light was gorgeous; I was kicking myself for not having my camera and tripod with me! As Chase Jarvis would say, the best camera is the one that’s with you.
I decided to return twice, once for a dawn image of first light hitting Ben Lomond over the loch and once to replicate the evening light I had seen over Milton Basin.
I parked at NN468022 and went down onto the beach over the road from Altskeith. The major attraction was that I would be off the road; some of the views could only be taken standing on the road and I wasn’t comfortable with that.
There was some lovely pre-dawn colour in the sky looking back to the east, so it was worth getting in place well before sunrise. This image was created looking towards NN475012.
By choosing a clear morning following some overnight “moisture”, I got at least a little morning mist over the loch’s surface. I framed up for my main image and waited for the light to hit the Ben. As the sun crept over the horizon I took my shots and then quickly re-framed for a portrait format, which would bring out the reflection of the Ben in the loch.
As the sun crept higher, I noticed it falling on Beinn Bhreac. I loved the texture in the fells that the angle and quality of light brought out, so I had to make this image.
I wouldn’t have noticed this if I had been completely obsessed with my original plan, so as always it pays to keep your eyes (and mind) open to other options.
I had decided that if the Milton Basin had held onto some of its early mist I would stop on the way back. I was in luck! I managed to park safely in a small lay-by at NN502017 and walked back to NN500015 where I could set up off the tarmac. At that time of the morning, there wasn’t any direct light hitting the basin so I only needed to work out my composition and make my shots. There are many more options than this, but I wanted to concentrate on my favourite framing.
Milton Basin II – the return
Having already seen how the evening light could hit this location, I wanted to return for an evening shot. This time I decided to park in the Forestry Commission car park (NN500012) as I expected the road to be busier than for my dawn shoot. When I reached the loch, I discovered a group of children playing on and around the jetty I’d shot before, so I set up to shoot the next jetty along the shore.
My top tip here is to make sure you’re in position and ready to shoot early into the “golden hour“. The sun dips over the hills to the west before the “technical” sunset time, so you won’t have as long as you expect to make your shots. Your time will also be more limited if there is any cloud in the lower part of the sky, but you won’t be able to see what’s coming once you’re set up on the shores of the loch. I was relieved that I was there in time to make this image, which is my favourite of the set.
I only scratched the surface of this location with my visit. If you’re in the area I think this is a location which should be right up at the top of your list.