Scottish Fellwalk – Photo Shoot

While on holiday in Scotland, I went out one evening to add some local landscape photos to my repertoire.  I already had some shots from the area and wanted expand the range a little.  After some research, I decided to climb Ben A’an; there’s more on the walk itself here and more on the photography after the jump.

On the walk-in, I decided that I would avoid using graduate filters and shoot +/- 2 stop brackets so that I could do some form of HDR or manual contrast blending later.  My thinking was that without filters I would work more quickly, cover more potential shots and be less likely to miss opportunities as the light changed.  The other problem was that the Cokin P filter system that I invested in several years ago is designed for lenses 28mm and longer, so it doesn’t cover the widest end of my main lens (24mm) without vignetting.  That’s now another part of my system which I need to take a closer look at upgrading in the future.

In terms of equipment, I was carrying my photo rucksack with my Canon 5D mark II and 24-105 f4L lens, plus 19-35mm lens, 75-300mm lens, filters, filter holders (remember, I only decided I wasn’t going to use these on the walk-in), groundsheet, tripod, cloths, remote release and spirit level plus my safety kit (map, compass, headtorch, GPS, food, water).  With hindsight, I could happily have left the two extra lenses, filters and holders plus the groundsheet behind and save my legs quite a lot of weight.  And speaking of weight, while I love my Manfrotto 055PROB tripod and 460MG head, it would be lovely to find a lighter alternative for taking when my main aim is walking rather than shooting, as it’s just too heavy at just over 3kg – none of that space-age carbon fibre stuff here, this is an aluminium ‘pod (I’m just bitter because I couldn’t stretch to the carbon fibre at the time and still wish I’d been able to).

At the time of year (mid August), the sun was setting in line with the nearest part of Loch Katrine and the flare I was getting from having the sun in frame was considerable.  I would guess that a visit closer to the longest day would open up the composition options a bit, as the sun should be setting further north.  Even when the sun was out of frame, I had to be quite careful at times to shield the lens from the sun with my hand to prevent flare creeping in.  I shot everything on my tripod using a remote release to keep the bracketed sets of shots consistent and make the post-processing easier.

I scouted around when I first arrived to pick out the likely compositions I would want to work with.  I then spent a happy hour or so taking a variety of shots until I lost the light, when I headed back down to the car.  The thing I always remember on a sunset shoot is to take my headtorch so I can still get back to the car once it gets dark; I was glad of its help!

I was pleased I’d made the effort to climb this hill as there was some beautiful light and I captured some images that I’m really happy with.  The best ones are available to buy as prints from my Scotland gallery.

Sunset mountain scene from the Trossachs, Scotland
Ben Ledi from the summit of Ben A’an

I’ll be back with a future posting on the processing techniques I’ve used on the final shots.