My week on Mull, Scotland - warning, many pictures!!

Discussion in 'Wanderlust and Travel' started by Richard Peters, May 14, 2007.

  1. I've just got back from my week long holiday to Mull, on the west coast of scotland. We were in this area last year but on the mainland opposite Mull and to be honest it was a very dull location for photography. This year however was very different indeed as Mull is full of potential. Literally every direction you look there is a photo opportunity and if there isn't, you only have to wait 10 minutes for the weather and lighting to change and the chances are what wasn't a photo opp will soon become one!

    Mull itself is an island apprx 20 x 30 miles in size although driving around it can be long and hard work as most of it is single track, twisty and sometimes bumpy road. The only down side to that is you'll often want to stop and take a photo but you won't be able too as there is nowhere to stop or there is something obstructing the view when you can. Its defiantly worth either riding around (which would be a killer with all the hills/mountains etc) or going with a few people and having a non-photographer type drop you off at places so you can explore on foot. Having said about the bikes though, we did drive 300 miles in total during the time we were there so it would be a very hard slog on bike with camera equipment!!

    _RP03542.

    We had to take a ferry from the mainland and did so from Oban, getting to Oban was a lovely drive through some mountain roads and along several lochs. We had to be at the ferry by a certian time as it was pre-booked so no time to stop. I did however take a few pictures from the window as we drive along:

    This loch was so still it was like a mirror, I wish I had a chance to get out and take this one properly rather than at 40mph from a car window! lol. I thought it was a bit wonky but its the small bit of land that comes out in front of the house making it look so as I zoomed in and the house appears to be straight...
    _RP02442.

    We also went past a few castles, again I wish I could have stopped rather than taken this from a moving car!
    _RP02480.
    (not a pano, I just cropped to remove a blurred hedge at the bottom)

    You go past Duart Castle and this light house on the ferry, unfortunately the weather wasn't very good on the left side of the boat so my castle shots were pretty naff - yep the weather was bad one side of the boat and reasonable the other side lol
    _RP02523.


    Wildlife is everywhere in Mull, its superb. However...trying to get shots of the things you see can be very difficult. You see all kinds of birds and sometimes hare and even deer in the fields, in the mountains or on fence posts and tree's as you drive down the roads (only the birds are on fences and trees of course...lol) but as soon as you stop or slow right down they scarper so its very challenging. But to be honest the fact you can even see all this activity and the surroundings your in mean most of the time your just pleased to be there and to see it full stop. A photo is sometimes just a nice bonus. There are sheep and cattle all over the place, by the road and IN the road:

    We had to sit for 10 minutes watching this big old fella chew some grass until he eventually got bored and moved over lol
    _RP04419.
     
  2. This litte chap was in one of the trees on the drive way leading up to the house we stayed in. I was looking for macro stuff along the wall and he just kept flying about right in front of me, sometimes almost within arms reach. He was very fast though so trying to focus on him with the Sigma 105 macro lens was very difficult, although I did manage to at least get this shot of him which I like as it shows his surroundings and I also like the few rain drops here and there. I've alwats been a fan of inviromental wildlife shots so this type of image with the bird not filling the frame is fine by me - it may not be to everyones taste though.

    _RP02897.

    There are also a LOT of oyster catchers on the island, and in some places you can drive along very close to the shoreline and see them walking around trying to catch food. This was my favourite shot as he has water droplets on his back as it was just starting to rain.

    _RP04386.

    There are also a fair few heron on the island although they are very hard to get close as unlike the ones you find in London they are not so used to people. I did however get this one shot of one sitting on a rock scouring the area during a low tide. I didn't really give this shot much thought when I took it, it was just a grab shot from the car at the time but looking at it now I really like the surroundings and think it makes a nice change to the usual heron shots I have of them in trees or just flying around.

    _RP04384.

    The house we were staying at also had a little bay just down the road and some field with sheep grazing in. On our final day it was really overcast and miserable so we put our water proof gear on, wrapped out camera's in bin bags and headed out to the field/bay. We saw a couple of Rock Pipits darting around collecting food and after watching them for a while worked out what rocks they were perching on. So I waited for one to fly away and crawled very slowly to one of the rocks they kept flying back to. I had just got myself in position and was looking through the viewfinder to set manual metering up when this chap practically landed in site of the lens! This is a full frame shot (although I was in the D2x's high speed crop mode so its actually a %50 crop if your being technical) and two of my favourites, I was lucky that this is the only time out of 3 landings they made where one of them had food in its mouth!

    _RP04630.

    _RP04621.

    More to follow...
     
  3. Walking across this field to the small loch behind revealed an island that seals spent all day long sitting on. The first day we saw them I only had the 200-400 so it wasn't very easy to get close shots, so the second day we went back armed with the 600mm which made things slightly easier!

    _RP03411.

    On one of the last evenings we pulled up to the house after a day out to be treated to some young lambs playing around, they were jumping up and down like they were on trampolines and head butting each other and just acting all hyper. It was all we could do to stop laughing as most the time we couldn't leep the camera's trained on them because we were laughing so much lol. I caught this one is mid jump, a perfect spring lamb! First time I have ever seen them acting like this so was pretty pleased to capture the moment as I only grabbed the camera half heartidly as a laugh whilst watching them. I'm not sure what crop I prefer here:

    _RP04448.

    _RP04448_portrait.

    My bird I.D is not very good so not sure what this bird is, although I'm on the wrong side of the sun for this shot I still quite liked it as an out take:

    _RP04330.

    One afternoon when we were walking along some rocks along the shore looking for otters this fighter jet came steaming up the lock straight towards us then banked and flew off at the last minute. It came pretty close as this is almost full frame, I just cropped about %10 off the original. Although I'm no aviation photography expert and there's nothing special about the shot, just thought I'd share though as I quite liked the trails coming off the wings.

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    More to follow...
     
  4. There are also waterfalls everywhere so it seemed only right I took a couple of the usual milky water shots (although my first ones ever personally)

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    _RP04224.

    Speaking of slow shutter speeds with water, I really wanted to capture the golden colour of this seaweed as it slowly moved around, the aim was to get a golden blur in amongst the blue sky reflected in the water. It was pretty bright though so I didn;t really have enough filter power to slow my shutter speed enough so it didn't waork quite how I wanted:

    _RP03322.

    Also did some random macro stuff, nothing fancey, just wanted some plain and simple stuff:

    _RP02890.

    This one was more a test of the 200-400's close focus ability than anything else. This lens never fails me!

    _RP04677.

    More to follow...
     
  5. As for landscapes, well its an island just off the coast, near the highlands! What more can you say really. I thought I'd try my hand at panoramics and image stitching as I've never done that kind of thing before. I really really enjoyed it and ended up doing loads. When you end up with an image thats 10,000 x 6,000 the standard resolution of the D2x suddenly seems tiny lol! Not to mention the file sizes (385mb images anyone!!). Unfortunately as its my first time doing this type of stuff I had my polarizer on for a fair few so they sky looks a little off on some. These are a few of my favourites that came out ok though. I love they way you can see so far in to the distance that everything becomes layered, although it has a strange affect in the photos that some look like the sky could be superimposed although its not! Its just a trick of having bright sunshine were your standing and dark clouds and shadow a few miles off in to the distance! One thing I will say, Mull is one of the most colourful places I've ever seen. Even when its dull there are shades of green and brown everywhere. If its been raining everything seems to have this magical glow about it, and when the sun is out everything just comes alive. My favourite lighting was having bright sunshine all around us but shade and moody sky in the distance - enhanced all the more by the fact you could see for absolute miles at times!!

    A couple of these are not image stitches, the ones that are standard photo apsect ratios are single frames. The others are anywhere from 2 to 10 images stitched taken with focul lengths between 24 and 400mm.

    EDIT: Photobucket has automatically resized my panos to 800 wide from 1200 wide so they aren't as detailed as I'd have liked. Sorry folks.

    pano_b_done.

    This was the view from the top of the hill behind the house we stayed in:
    Pano-7.

    This was another direction looking out to see, just before the sun went down one evening the sky and distant land had a lovely pastel look to it. There is a lighthouse visible at high res, with its light on (I waited for it to swing round before I fired the camera). The light house is the furthest western point on the mainland:
    Pano-8.

    A crop from above, making for a nice shot in its own right:
    Pano-8-1.

    And this was the other direction at sunset from the same hill:
    Pano-5-copy.

    More to follow...
     
  6. Pano-6-copy.

    PANO4-copy.

    pano3_done.

    We had rain on and off and one evening we had the most defined rainbow I have ever seen. Unfortunately by the time I noticed it, got the camera ready and ran out it was fading but I kept an eye out over the next few days and got another chance, this time I was ready although it wasn't as defined as the first one but I just loved the way the colour of the sky was split in two.

    _RP03176.

    Oh and finally.
     
  7. Mull is well known for its eagle and otter population. This year we didn't see any eagles unfortunately or otters despite being told they were all over the place. However on our last full day we were informed of a location a family of otters went to every morning for breakfast. We just assumed it was a wild goose chase as usual but thanked the man who told us. Then on the morning we left, we got to the ferry terminal at about 715am for the 8am ferry. The otters were supposed to be nearby so we ummed and ah'ed for a while before deciding to go have a quick look whist we waited for the ferry. I'm so glad we did as we were treated to a family of otters playing around on the rocks!! The sun was in totally the wrong place and needing high ISO but we watched and fired off shots until they saw us and retreated in to the water. Then daddy otter came back with a huge fish in his mouth and sat there eating it not 10 or 15 foot in front of us!! You really can't beat seeing and photographing wildlife in its natural habitat! We wanted to stay but we could see the ferry coming across the loch. It was such a shame to have to leave them but an amazing experience to watch wild otters going about their business. Getting record shots of it was fine by me, although next year I'll be prepared and hopefully get some shots worth printing!

    This is when we first spotted them:
    _RP04702.

    Then they spotted us and were all curious, I love the way one is pearing over the other:
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    Those two are cropped down, these next two are almost full frame.

    Then daddy came back with a big old fish!
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    So thats it, the end of another weeks holiday in scotland.
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    So much more rewarding than last year thanks to the location. Mull is stunning and I can't recomend it enough to anyone who loves wildlife or landscape photography. For anyone interested we stayed here www.penmore.co.uk, it was a good location although I'd maybe try the south of the island for accomodation if you prefer wildlife as we ended up seeing most of it down there.

    Thats it, my quick gui
     
  8. WOW!! Thanks so very much for sharing these and telling the story. Excellent photos!!

    Cheers!!

    Ken
     
  9. Thanks for an awsome virtual tour of the island!
    Jumping Lamb is my favorite... so cute!
     
  10. There can't be too many of such beautiful pics.

    Love the bouncing lamb :smile: !

    Cheers
     
  11. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Wow what a wonderful journey to share
    Thank you

    Yes the Lamb is adorable
     
  12. Richard,
    Wonderful shots, and great commentary. I've only been to Scotland once, but this certainly makes it feel as if I've just taken another trip. Can't wait for your next trip.
     
  13. Wonderful; just as I remmeber it! Love the bouncing lamb..superb timing!

    Rich
     
  14. Love the lamb!!!
     
  15. Dayo

    Dayo

    May 1, 2006
    Bahrain
    The lamb shot is just excellent! Both crops are tops but if forced, I'll go for the vertical crop.
     
  16. Beautiful photos! I'm still smiling over the lamb, LOL. I didn't know they could jump like that.
     
  17. A wonderful set! Thanks for sharing!
     
  18. Vienna Pics

    Vienna Pics

    Nov 14, 2005
    Virgnia
    Man, those are great shots - just loved the two lamb shots - superb!
     
  19. Fascinating all the way Richard, very well done!
     
  20. Nicely done, Richard. This is the way a wanderlust posting is supposed to be!

    Too many people post one or two pictures with no narrative.
     
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