Sunday, 27 December 2009

Limited Exposure

357 - A Break in the Weather, originally uploaded by North Light.

Nearing the end of this years "365" now, Icy roads and work have limited the range I have been working over for the last few days. This always makes it difficult to find something fresh, not only to keep the viewers interest up, but also mine.
This photograph was particularly pleasing, taken with a compact camera, but one of the most successful of the month. I do like the contrast of the hard lines of the Sea Wall against the sky.

Starting to think about the next years photography now, what goals to set, at the moment another year of daily photography seems a bit daunting, but the concept of a 1000 days of photography is too challenging to ignore.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Bit of a Landmark

334 - A Bit of a Landmark, originally uploaded by North Light.

I have to say I'm just a little pleased with this one! Taken on the last day of November, with everchanging light it was good to be in the right place at the right time.
It is also photograph number 700 in my "Photo a Day Series", one month to go to complete this year, then embark on one more year! I have the bizarre notion to do 1000, quite mad.

I seem to have been neglecting the blog a bit, over a month since I last blogged, energies have been going in other directions, one of which is now taking shape, but demands a lot more work is my website, having been "Up" for a year I felt it deserved a change, I have also been able to take advantage of some changes which allow me to upload larger images, drop by and have a look, Comments are welcome.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Heading Towards Winter

292 - Sliding Towards Winter, originally uploaded by North Light.

As the nights draw in the daily photograph starts to become a real challenge, grey autumn evenings are not the most inspiring of subjects and test my abilities to produce interesting photographs.
Scrabster Harbour has become a focal point for my photography over the last few days, the colours and lights on the fishing boats providing a much needed contrast to the gloom of a grey and damp evening.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Something Different

Over a month since I last blogged! Excuses, well yes I do have some, a bout of flu etc, but also, it's been a long season, it's all to easy to let the hotel part of my life become all consuming!
As the "Hotel Season" eases off, the photographic one starts, autumn light, when we get it is for me the best time for photography, the Camera Club season has started again, and a few days away in Inverness lets me do something different.
I have always been interested in architecture, and Eden Court Theatre is a perfect subject, very different from landscapes, well perhaps not, the same principals apply, composition, light and subject.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Breaks in the Weather

248 - From Clardon Haven, originally uploaded by North Light.

My feeling was that August was wet, but the beginning of September has completely surpassed anything that August had to offer, torrential rain a few days ago left parts of northern Scotland flooded, Caithness has missed the worst of the flooding, but rivers and burns are very swollen, and there is a wide selection of temporary lochs and lakes.
As a photographer, rain is the most difficult element to work with, and I have to admit that on the worst day I resorted to working from inside the car, only the second time I have had to this year.
Otherwise, despite the rain, our quickly changing weather has produced some good breaks in the weather, yesterday evening's "Rock Hopping" at Clardon Haven producing some very satisfying images.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Photography on a Damp August Evening

On days like this its a challenge, after a day of rain it was still trying to rain, but the diffuse light was still strong enough to bring out the colours in the barley and the red in the combine provided the point of interested needed to lift the photograph.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Nearing the end of the Season

The end of August is drawing closer, so far it has proven to be a very changeable month, with plenty of rain, doesn't always make the photography easy, it leaves me some evenings chasing inspiration!

Yesterday early evening saw me doing a longish circular drive, Thurso, Reay, Westerdale, Halkirk where I took some photographs, and back to Thurso! Lots of miles for three or four photographs, still on foot for the first part of next week as the car in off to the garage for a few days! That will reduce my CO2 footprint a little bit.

Number 234 this year is also number 600 in my goal of 1000 days of photography, just 400 to go.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Captivating Colours

218 - Citrus Reflections, originally uploaded by North Light.

Good news - The hotel is very busy at the moment, Bad News - Not much time or energy for the photography.

A combination of the above, basically very tired at the moment and trying to find a photograph each day whilst not being too repetitive led to a series of photographs in Scrabster Harbour using a long lens, this photograph was one of the results, an abstract photograph of the reflections on Subsea Viking's hull in the water. Am I pleased? Yes, I like the softening of the colours and the photographs I took went some way to re-motivating me.

Now what am I going to find today ..............

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Not My Forte

213 - Gala Night, originally uploaded by North Light.

Thurso Gala Parade, the beginning of Gala Week, an annual event run by Thurso Town Improvements Association.
My photograph a day would not be complete without some images of the event, but I do have to say that photography of people is really not my forte, and something I would normally avoid like the plague!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

After a Day of Rain

199 - After the Race, originally uploaded by North Light.

This is one of my personal favourites of the photographs I have taken over the last couple of weeks, after a day of rain, watched from the reception area of the hotel I was contemplating what to do for the "Days photograph", driving west out of Thurso gives a great view of the bay, I could see yachts racing in the bay, so the location was sorted, as so often happens, a little bit of luck makes the photograph, the days racing had finished, and the best photograph was of the returning boats.
Why do I like the photograph? Simplicity is the answer, a very minimalist composition, the bold colours on the sails providing a touch of contrast against the muted greys, above all it catches the mood.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Somewhere New

191 - Old Track, Dirlot, originally uploaded by North Light.

There is a real joy in finding a new location, a visit to Dirlot Castle one evening with Thurso Camera Club this week produced a couple of interesting photographs despite not so good weather. I am now more than a little captivated by the place, so went back at the end of the week for a second take! I have no doubt that this will be repeated, as I think there is more to come from this location.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Working with Overcast Skies

182 - After the Rain, originally uploaded by North Light.

We are now beginning to get to the point in the year where overcast skies are common, they seem to be very characteristic of July and August weather in Caithness. The popular thought would be that this is not good for photography, the opposite is true, the diffuse light allows photography throughout the day, exploration of colours and shapes is much easier than in bright sunshine, saturation and contrast being lower and easier to control.
Sandside Harbour is always a good subject with lots of detail and interest in the equipment dotted around the harbour, this old storehouse providing an excellent backdrop.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Wick HarbourFest 2009

178 - HarbourFest 2009, originally uploaded by North Light.

Or perhaps the title should have been "Expanding the Repertoire".

After long days at work it's all too easy to take the easy option and go where I know that I can get a photograph with the minimum of effort. Not surprisingly this ultimately proves unsatisfying, it seems that I need to keep a level of challenge in my photography, when it becomes routine and I feel that I am not learning, or pushing myself, the motivation becomes much more difficult to maintain. An interesting thought as I near the half way point of this year, and contemplate that I am also closing on the mid point of my objective of three years of a photo a day!

So yesterday I managed to get to the HarbourFest at Wick on a glorious summer's day, I arrived late in the day, and most of the stands were being broken down, definitely not my usual subject, lots more photographs than I would normally take, but I am pleased with this one which I hope gives the feeling of a crowded marina. As usual I've had to keep the saturation down, Nikon reds easily become too dominating.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Grumpy Photographer

174 - Fresgoe Thrift, originally uploaded by North Light.

It's reached that time of year where there is an inevitable conflict between my photography and the "Day Job".
The hotel is busy at the moment, and combined with Summer light, which is not my favourite it makes for difficult photography.
I am still achieving the "Photo a Day", but am I succeeding at my other objectives? Is my photography improving is an important question for me, part of the satisfaction I get is from being able to see an positive changes in my photography, having spent a little time looking at photographs from a year ago I think I am still improving, so I shall try and be a bit less grumpy today!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Sliding into Summer

Flowers, Cottage and Crows, originally uploaded by North Light.

So the weather is improving as we approach the longest day, my only complaint is that the temperatures are not really matching the sunlight, a cold north / north easterly wind is holding it down in the lower teens.

The hotel is busy so my time to "Blog" and comment on Flickr is considerably reduced, today I have grabbed a few minutes whilst I am sitting at reception waiting for a group of Italians to check out. Today I will make some time to ensure I respond to all those people who are kind enough to comment on my photographs.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Looking for Something Different

149 - The Trinkie, originally uploaded by North Light.

One of the problems of participating in "A Photograph a Day" is that with over 500 days under my belt I am finding that I need to seek new subjects to keep the inspiration going.
Yesterday the light took me over towards Wick, a sudden moment of inspiration had me at the Trinkie, and a fortunate appearance of some sunlight has produced a photograph that I am pleased with on the first visit to a location.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Right Place, Right Time

Strath More Rainbow, originally uploaded by North Light.

In the last few weeks there have been days where I have been chasing light with no success, Tuesday night I always seemed to be 5 minuets behind the light, a very frustrating session.
Wednesday was another unpromising day, when I went out in the evening I choose to go towards Loch More again as the clouds looked very interesting in that direction. As i got near the heavens opened, rain and hail so heavy that the road was soon flooded, and windscreen wipers were struggling to clear the screen.
I love where the River Thurso runs near the road here, so decided to stop as I could see the sky lightening behind me. First there was some sunshine on the river, good enough to get me out of the car into the rain, this has produced some nice images of the river, then to my left this rainbow appeared, one of the best I have ever seen. So for once in the "Right Place at The Right Time".

Thursday, 14 May 2009

500 Days of Photography

134 - 500 Days of Photography, originally uploaded by North Light.

I do feel a sense of achievement in reaching this anniversary, I will admit it has become easier and has definitely improved the quality of my photography but it has required a large amount of commitment, rarely less than an hour a day, and often more than 2 hours a day. During the Summer this is often on top of a 10 + working day. There definitely have been days where motivation has been a problem and other times where I have questioned the quality of my work but on balance .... I'd do it again, in fact here's looking forward to the next 500!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Royal Mail Postbus

Old Slipway, originally uploaded by North Light.

For many years the Royal Mail has operated an excellent Postbus service in the North Highlands, the services from Thurso going west all ceased in April this year, Royal Mail saying they were unable to reach an agreement with the Highland Council on the subsidy they pay, if the press is correct, the Post Office had asked a threefold increase in subsidy and appear to not want to negotiate. This service as well as providing lifeline transport to remote areas was also well used by Tourists, you could leave Thurso on the morning bus, have half a day in Tongue, and then return of the afternoon bus.
The Highland Council have been very quick to find a replacement service, provided by Stagecoach, but from the Tourist Trades point of view this service has one major drawback, if you want to go to Tongue for a few hours, and then return to Thurso, during the week you can no longer do this, you now get exactly 23 minutes in Tongue before you have to return!
I can understand the problems, the costs of running a full bus to Tongue have to be higher than the small minibus the Royal Mail was using, and the Royal Mail's service was dual purpose in that it was collecting mail from Post Offices as well.

In my view another step backwards for the Tourist.

Monday, 4 May 2009

O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series Scotland

123 - Coming Through, originally uploaded by North Light.

Finally, in the right place at the right time! Late Sunday afternoon I got to get some surfing photography in, the round of 48, surfed at the "Bowl" at Brims Ness. The surfer in this photograph is Nathan Hedges aka "Hog".
Difficult surfing conditions, but excellent photography conditions.
I am pleased to see that my hit rate seems to have improved this year but I could definitely do with a longer lens.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Take Two, originally uploaded by North Light.

Tuesday late afternoon, I went out to Brims Ness to see if I could get a photograph of the set up for the surfing competition, but the competition seems to be on a smaller scale this year, another World Qualifying round is on in California at the same time, I guess the water is a touch warmer! I digress, so nothing to photograph, the sky is overcast and the tide well out, but this building and the view east looked good. The compact was struggling with the contrast levels, so a washed out sky.
Back to Brims the next day, some sunshine and a good sky, so "Take Two", it works, the vivid green of the grass in the foreground providing a good contrast to the sky.

An interesting aside is a comparison of the two compositions, different cameras were used, compact on day one and a DSLR on day two, the equivalent focal lengths are similar but I made no attempt to produce an exact replica yet the composition is almost identical.
Thought provoking.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Photos that bring Tourists to Britain

103 - Bank Holiday Beach, originally uploaded by North Light.

I've just watched a short film on the BBC News website, "The men who photograph Britain, about two of the most respected British landscape photographers, and how their photographs are bringing people from abroad to the UK to holiday, excellent, exactly what I'm trying to do with my own photography, but my focus is on the north of Scotland.
An interesting short film, and I'm glad that their work is being appreciated outside the UK and that the value of photography is being understood, but I do have a complaint , the last part of the film, describes the two photographers as using "Victorian Technology", and "artists who have stuck with traditional film to keep the details of our landscape true". Er, well, the technology they are using might have been developed from "Victorian Technology", but I would argue that so is digital photography, what winds me up most though is the idea that to present a landscape in a way that is true. The suggestion that you have to use film to portray a landscape in it's true form is not correct, it's a bit like the wonderful old statement, "The Camera Doesn't Lie".
These are two outstanding photographers, who use large format film cameras because of the resolution they offer, and the "Movements" that allow you alter depth of focus and perspective, can you do the same with digital technology, yes of course you can, but the cost of a full frame digital back for a 5" x 4" plate camera is huge, and only designed for studio work, so at the moment the most practical technology is still film if you want to use large format cameras on location.
Having got that off my chest, do look at the work of these two guys, Joe Cornish and David Ward, I would list them amongst the most influential British photographers in my own work, and in my opinion amongst the finest living landscape photographers.

Now how do I get more publicity for my images and the far north of Scotland?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Number 100

The one hundredth daily photograph of the year completed, looking across to the Wind Farm on Dale Moss from the A9 on the Causewaymire. I've had this photograph in the back of my mind for a couple of years now,and whilst it has achieved what I wanted to illustrate, how the Moss has been used over the years, I do think there's a better photograph to come yet so some revisits will be needed.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sliding through the year

91 - Beach Mirror, originally uploaded by North Light.

April already, the prospect of better weather ahead and the probability that the worst of the weather is behind us
For the last few years April and May have brought some of the best weather of the year, with the O'Neill Highland Open World Qualifying Series Mens Professional Surfing Contest starting at the end of this month and Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival over the Easter weekend lets hope that we get a repeat of the early good weather.
But can we please have a good summer as well? The last two years have been relatively quiet as far as individual tourists are concerned, at the moment the early indications are that this year may be a little better, but some weather to match this prospect would be good.
In all seriousness, the North Highlands of Scotland are very beautiful, and will reward the more adventurous tourist, so please come and explore the "Other Highlands" north of Inverness.

OK, I'll take the hotelier hat off now, and put on the photographers. The last few weeks has produced some very changeable weather, and hence some interesting contrasts, one day one is working in the summer, the next the depths of winter, a better illustration of this is the contrast of Saturday, awoke to a dusting of snow, frequent winter showers and cold winds, during the afternoon I was taking photographs on Dunnet Head, 2.5℃, much lower with the windchill. Tuesday evening, at Gills Bay, still a cool wind but a sunny spring evening and temperatures of 15℃, duvet weather to T-Shirt weather in two days!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Evening Light

84 - Port Skerra Light, originally uploaded by North Light.

I left Thurso and it was overcast, after a very changeable day, heading west I was beginning to think I had gone the wrong way, but there was the odd bit of blue sky in the sky. Port Skerra had a big swell running into it from the north west, looked to be 2 to 3 metres, no surf as the rocks break the swell up, the largest looking waves had me backing up the beach looking for higher ground, the first 5 or 10 minutes the light was diffuse with no direct sunlight, but a day for luck, the sun broke through highlighting the white water in the bay. In all the shots I took the visibility is not that good, the air is full of spray making working with these images quite difficult.

Port Skerra or Portskerra? The OS map gives the name of the settlement as Portskerra, but the bay is shown as Port Skerra, l am guessing the origin is Gaelic and could well be as simple as Port Skerry.

Ordnance Survey - Guide to Gaelic origins of
place names in Britain

Friday, 13 March 2009

Hotels and Photography

71 - March Weather, originally uploaded by North Light.

With the hotel opening this week my photography time is much more restricted, doing the "Day Shift" means that I am in the hotel before breakfast and not escaping until after 4.00 pm, so daylight photography this week was restricted. The good news is with the days lengthening quickly this will not be a problem soon.
A week of mixed weather has brought a week of mixed photography, but this is one I I am very pleased with, rain rolling in from the west, with a touch of sun lighting the piers of Scrabster harbour.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Oh for a Longer Lens!

63 - End of the Run, originally uploaded by North Light.

We've had some excellent surf over the last few days, but yesterday was the first time I've been in the right place with the right lens, with the O'Neill Highland Open, a Men's World Qualifying Series event here Apr 29-May 6, and the Quicksilver Scottish Open Oct 27th - 28th, I need to get some practice in, my longest lens is a little short for this work, but fortunately you can get quite close at the two sites normally used for this event.
If we are lucky this year the majority of the competition will be held at Thurso East, which is very close to us.
This is what the UK Pro Surf Tour has to say about Thurso East, "Takes place at one of the best venues in the world. Thurso East is a world class reef break consistently producing good wave".

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay

The end of February and two months into the year already, my plans for a more relaxed year have not really worked so far, the difficult days, where inspiration is difficult to find leave me frustrated, and I get depressed with my work if it drops below my standards. Ironically this is all good for my photography, keeps me pushing myself and hence continues to improve my photography.
Today's quick trip to the east coast was good, much better light than on the north coast and working in an area I don't know as well, a moral in this I guess so there will be a little more exploration as time allows.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Wick in White

41 - Wick in White, originally uploaded by North Light.

So, we finally got some real snow, but I would have to admit that compared to much of the country we have been very lucky.

When I look back on last year's "Photo a Day", I can see that there is still a huge amount of Caithness that has not featured in my images, let alone Sutherland! So for this year I will, as far is practical and within the constraints of my working life, start to put this right.
Oh there's nothing like making life difficult for yourself!

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Found One at Last

Who Forgot the Wellies Then, originally uploaded by North Light.

If you've been following my blog you will know that I spent some time and efforts in 2008 trying to find a compact camera that I liked. I have to admit that this was initially very unsuccessful, and after a foolish purchase of a Nikon compact I eventually purchased a Nikon D60 slr in the middle of the year.
Whilst this was successful, and produced results I was happy with it still didn't meet the criteria of a pocket camera, so I was very interested when Panasonic released the DMC-LX3, after reading a few reviews I purchased one of these towards the end of the year.
The results from this compact are first class, it has it's faults, and would certainly not suit everyone, but as a landscape photographers camera I would heartily recommend one as a pocket camera.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


13 - Going Under, originally uploaded by North Light.

So 2008 is completed, a year of photography over.

Time to look back at last years resolutions.

1. More quality time for B and I away from Hotel - Not entirely successful, but we did manage to get a few breaks away together, so I think this should be regarded as "Work in Progress", or "Must try harder".
2. More exploring of Caithness & Sutherland - Not bad, another "Work in Progress" but it would have been that even if I thought I had done really well.
3. Photo a day! Thanks to mijoli for this one - 100% success, in fact so successful that I have decided to repeat it for 2009!
4. Find a compact camera I like - Also successful although I have to admit there were a couple of false starts, I am extremely pleased with the Panasonic LX3, it's limitations of short Zoom range do not really bother me, and the quality of image for a compact camera is very good.

So, 2009, a bit late for resolutions, but better late than never!

Three carry over from last year,

1. More quality time for B and I away from Hotel.
2. More exploring of Caithness & Sutherland.
3. Photo a day.

Two new ones.

4. Too use my photography to promote the North of Scotland, with particular emphasis to Caithness & Sutherland.
5. Too improve the technical side of my photography, with particular reference to exposure control and Photoshop.

Enough to be going on with I think!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Shepherds Warning

10 - Shepherds Warning, originally uploaded by North Light.

"Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken'd wreck to the seaman - sorrow to shepherds."

Shakespeare, in Venus & Adonis, 1593

I was planning a lie in this morning, but a look out the window had me running around the house like a scalded cat!
Managed to get down to the sea front to catch some of the stunning sky we had this morning, the colours were changing quickly as dawn approached, combined with a wind gusting to 50 mph quick work was needed, so maybe not some of my best compositions but I am pleased to have caught the light.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

2008 - A Year in Photographs

366 - A Bit of a Do, originally uploaded by North Light.

So, 366 days of photography completed, a photograph a day was achieved, only one day was not uploaded to Flickr on the day, the hotel we were staying in had no WiFi. I certainly didn't realise the amount of time I would be committing each day, typically 2 to 3 hours a day! The most difficult times were in the winter, our short days, only just over 6 hours of daylight at the shortest. day a certain amount of planning was required.
I have learnt an immense amount in the year, and feel that my photography has benefited. One very important thing I have learnt is that the weather has never been too bad to take a photograph and some of the best photographs have come from the days with the worst weather!
Some numbers.
Total number of photographs up-loaded to Flickr = 1035
Total number of frames = 14100
Total amount of data stored = 74 GB with back-up in a different file format (Adobe DNG) = 160 GB.

I would like to thank everyone who commented during the year for their support and encouragement.