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Scottish Highlands & Islands (Large Thread)

Discussion in 'Landscapes, Architecture, and Cityscapes' started by antsplan, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. Apologies for the huge post, I didnt want to start multiple consecutive threads, I hope you enjoy seeing a little of my country and reading about it also.

    C&C is always welcomed.

    This first place I have returned to a few times to try and get 'the shot' unfortunately I still have never seen the Cuilin range without cloud around it so I'll have to return again.

    45 Second exposure with an NDx1000 filter attached:

    Ealaghol/Elgol - Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

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    Borgh/Borve on the Isle of Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Berneray is a small island connected by causeway to North Uist with a population of 130. It was a miserable day in a stunning location, PP to add some 'grit'.

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    Eiriosgaigh/Eriskay, Outer Hebrides, Scotland - Eriskay is at the southern end of The Uists and North of Barra and is again connected by Causeway to South Uist. PP is a desat layer.

    From Wiki:

    Eriskay (Scottish Gaelic: Eirisgeidh, from the Old Norse for "Eric's Isle") is an island of the Outer Hebrides in northern Scotland. It lies between South Uist and Barra and is connected to South Uist by a causeway which was opened in 2001. In the same year Eriskay became the ferry terminal for travelling between South Uist and Barra. The new vehicular ferry travels between Ceann a' Ghàraidh on Eriskay and Ardmore on Barra. The crossing takes around 40 minutes.

    Despite its diminutive size, Eriskay has many claims to fame, that have made the island well-known far beyond its local Hebridean region. It is associated with the traditional Hebridean song, the Eriskay Love Lilt; with the Eriskay pony and the Eriskay jersey (made without any seams). It is the real Whisky Galore! island: it was just off Eriskay that the SS Politician ran aground in 1941 with its famous cargo. On August 2, 1745 the small frigate le Du Teillay landed Bonnie Prince Charlie with his "seven men of Moidart" on Eriskay to start the 'Forty-Five Jacobite Rising. An important early documentary film, Eriskay: A Poem of Remote Lives, made by a German traveller, Werner Kissling, was set on the island.

    There is a well-stocked shop in Eriskay, a community centre and the Politician Lounge Bar (named after the ship which serendipitously ran aground and famously provided the island with a generous supply of free whisky). The Roman Catholic church of St. Michael's sits on a hill overlooking the main village on Eriskay. It celebrated its centenary in 2003, having been built by Father Allan MacDonald in 1903. The site of the old church is marked by a memorial garden.

    Eriskay is traversed by a number of mountain paths and tracks, and has just a single motor road. The first stretch of that road was built in 1935, funded through proceeds from the first showing in London of the Werner Kissling film.

    Many Eriskay families have had to leave the island in recent years in search of work and some historic island families have few or no descendants left on the island. An example of these families is the Macinnnes' who were a prominent island family at the time of the Kissling film but are now down to just four members of the extended family dwelling on the island. Many of the people who have left have been young as there is no work for them on the island and no further education available either.

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    Borgh/Borgh Hill on Berneray:

    Again from Wiki:

    Berneray is one of two inhabited islands in the Sound of Harris. With an area of 10.1 square kilometres (2496 acres), Berneray rises to a height of 305 feet (93 m) at Beinn Shleibhe (Moor Hill) and 278 feet (85 m) at Borve Hill. There is strong evidence that points to Berneray being inhabited since the Bronze Age, and possibly before. The island is scattered with ancient sacred sites, stone circles, signs of Viking inhabitation and historical buildings, some several centuries old.

    In common with most islands in the Outer Hebrides, the population has declined over the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the past few years has seen a gradual rise; as of 20 October 2006, the permanent resident population of Berneray stood at 130.

    Most people on Berneray speak Scottish Gaelic, many as a first language. Berneray is known as the birthplace of the giant Angus MacAskill and for its sandy beaches backed with sand dunes. The west beach, a three mile stretch of wide, clean and often deserted sand, is widely acclaimed as one of the world's great beaches.

    The main industries are fishing, crofting (small-scale individual farming), media/IT and tourism.

    A key feature of Berneray is its machair. The machair is a coastal plain made up of windblown shell sand. Traditional crofting practice, which involves summer agriculture using seaweed together with dung from winter grazing animals as natural fertiliser, has, over time, bound together and stabilised the land. The machair is ploughed in rotation, giving a patchwork of crops and fallow of different ages which supports a wide range of flowers. Berneray has a particularly fine machair, a result of careful husbandry by the island’s crofters, helped by the absence of rabbits.

    The crofting practises also encourage a wide array of wildlife on Berneray. On early summer evenings you can sometimes hear snipe drumming, and even the rasp of a corncrake. Mute swans can be seen on Loch Brusda, and greylag geese are common. In the winter they are joined by barnacle, and a few brent geese. Ravens and buzzards are often to be seen. Golden eagles and hen harriers are rarer sights, usually in the winter. Wading birds on the shore include redshanks, sanderlings, turnstones, oyster catchers, dunlin, curlews, whimbrels, ringed plovers and herons.

    Further out, around the shores of Berneray, are mallards, eiders, red-breasted mergansers, and, more rarely, black-throated and great northern divers. Shags and cormorants fish in the seas around Berneray throughout the year, and in summer you can see gannets diving. Common seals often congregate at low tide on the rocks in Bays Loch, and can often be seen from the parking area a little way beyond the Post Office or by taking a boat trip out into the bay. Grey seals, which are larger and can be distinguished by the long 'Roman' noses, also haul out there occasionally, but are more common off the West Beach. Though the otters of Berneray are out during the day more often than on the mainland, they are still elusive, and it takes patience and luck to see one.

    Possibly the greatest change in modern times occurred in 1999 when the causeway opened between Berneray and Otternish on North Uist. This has made travelling on and off the island, for example for employment, easier. The causeway contains culverts that allow the easy passage of otters and fish from one side of the structure to the other. In addition, broadband Internet provision became available in January 2006, providing another incentive to people wishing to relocate to Berneray and sustain the population and community.

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    Callanais/Callanish, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

    Once again the weather was miserable and my shot was poor, so I have done quite a bit of PP here, its way over the top I know, but a slightly different take (albeit unrealistic) on the much photographed stones.

    From Wiki:

    The Callanish Stones (or "Callanish I"), Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic, are situated near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), Scotland ( [show location on an interactive map] 58°11′51″N, 06°44′41″W).

    Construction of the site took place between 2900 and 2600 BC, though there were possibly earlier buildings before 3000 BC. A tomb was later built into the site. Debris from the destruction of the tomb suggests the site was out of use between 2000 BC and 1700 BC.[1] The 13 primary stones form a circle about 13 m in diameter, with a long approach avenue of stones to the north, and shorter stone rows to the east, south, and west (possibly incomplete avenues). The overall layout of the monument recalls a distorted Celtic cross. The individual stones vary from around 1 m to 5 m in height, with an average of 4 m, and are of the local Lewisian gneiss.

    The first written reference to the stones was by Lewis native John Morisone, who in c. 1680 wrote that "great stones standing up in ranks [...] were sett up in place for devotione".

    The tallest of the stones marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains have been discovered. An excavation campaign in 1980 and 1981 showed that the burial chamber was a late addition to the site, and that it had been modified a number of times. Pottery finds suggested a date of 2200 BC for the erection of the circle. It has been speculated, among other theories, that the stones form a calendar system based on the position of the moon. Professor Alexander Thom suggested that the alignment of the stone avenue (when looking southward) pointed to the setting of midsummer full moon behind a distant Corbett (mountain) called Clisham. Critics of these theories argue that several alignments are likely to exist purely by chance in any such structure, and that many factors such as the weathering and displacement of the stones over the millennia mean we can never be certain of any original, possibly intentional, alignments.

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    Luncarty (Near Perth). Back on the mainland, this is where town meets country as is evident from the field with the pylons ripping right through. PP here was a desat layer and a solid fill layer set to add some warmth.

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    Duffus Castle, Morayshire, Grampian, Scotland

    Difficult light to shoot in, I had to shade the lens to prevent flare and it worked but the polariser couldn't work to full effect due to the angle of the sun. Even still I loved the saturated colours and the clouds almost giving a St Andrews Cross effect in the sky with the mound.

    I used a 2 Stop ND grad, some sharpening and some dust removal, no other PP on this one.

    From Wiki:


    Duffus Castle, near Elgin, Moray, Scotland, was a motte-and-bailey castle and was in use from c.1140 to 1705. During its period of occupation it had undergone many alterations. The most fundamental was the destruction of the original wooden structure and its replacement with one of stone. At the time of its establishment, it was one of the most secure fortifications in Scotland. At the death of the 2nd Lord Duffus in 1705, the castle had become totally unsuitable as a dwelling and so was abandoned

    Moray was an important part of the Pictish confederation. At the beginning of the 12th century the province was ruled by the mormaer, Angus, grandson of Lulach Macgillecomgan, who had succeeded Macbeth as King of Scots in 1057. Ferociously autarchic and highly distrustful of the expansion of the monarchy, Angus rebelled in 1130. The revolt was resolutely quashed by King David I,who immediately began to populate the province with nobles and people of his own choosing.

    One significant arrival was Freskin (also known as Freskyn) who already owned an extensive estate in Lothian (Strabrock, now Uphall). He accepted lands at Duffus from King David I of Scotland.[2] Freskin’s background is uncertain. The historical consensus amongst historians is that he was of Flemish background, the principle argument being that "Freskin" is a Flemish name.[3] Undoubtedly, King David, himself a Normanized magnate with extensive estates in northern England and Normandy, granted lands to many nobles from Flanders as well as Normans. The unlikely alternatives are that he may have been an Anglo-Saxon or a Scot who fought for King David and his English general Edward Siwardsson in Moray. At that time, when Flemish nobles were referred to in writs by nationality (almost never), they were styled "Flandrensis".[4] Freskin appears in no contemporary sources, and was never referred to by his national origin. By the 13th century his descendents were referring to themselves as 'de Moravia' ('of Moray') and had become one of the more powerful families in northern Scotland.[5]

    It was Freskin who built the great earthwork and timber motte-and-bailey castle in c.1140. The motte was an immense man-made mound with steeply sloping sides and a wide and deep ditch that surrounded the base. Timber buildings would have stood on its flat top and would have been further protected by a wooden palisade placed around the edge of the summit. The motte was accessed from the bailey. This is a wide stretch of earth elevated above the surrounding area but not as high as the motte. At Duffus, the motte would have been reached by steps set into the mound. The motte contained the buildings necessary to sustain its inhabitants - brew and bake houses, workshops and stables - as well as the living accommodation.

    Freskin’s direct line ended in 1270 and the castle passed into the ownership of Sir Reginald Cheyne, the younger. In around 1350 the last Cheyne died leaving his estate to his daughter who was married to Nicholas,the second son of the 4th Earl of Sutherland. The Sutherlands, themselves were descended from Freskyn and remained in their possession until 1705[5] when the castle was abandoned.

    In 1305, it was recorded that Reginald Cheyne received a grant from King Edward I of England of 200 oaks from the royal forests of Longmorn and Darnaway 'to build his manor of Dufhous'[6] demonstrating that a large construction project was being carried out. The wood would have been needed for scaffolding, flooring and roofing of the new stone fortress. It is known that the original castle was burned down by Andrew Moray in the summer 1297 who descended on it with what was described as in a letter to King Edward I of England as “a very large body of rogues”, [7] because it held a garrison of King Edward’s English troops and this had been the impetus for building a more secure castle of stone.

    A two-storey rectangular tower was built on the motte and was the main residence. The first floor held the lord’s hall, with a latrine and bed chambers. The ground floor was the main storage space and also accommodated the lord’s household. The tower was built as a defensive structure with a small number of narrow windows. There was only the one entrance on the ground floor which also housed a portcullis. On the second floor, two doors exited onto the walkway of the curtain wall. This wall completely enclosed the bailey. The put-log holes built into the curtain wall indicate the presence of a number of buildings. On the north side a later building was erected that housed a kitchen, a great hall with reception room and the great chamber bedroom. It is possible that this building was constructed by the Sutherlands. It is not known when the serious subsidence took place but evidence of repairs to the tower are evident before it slid down the motte. The tower shows no further repairs and may have collapsed early on but the newer hall became the main residence. This building shows continued alterations over time. In 1689, John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee was a guest of Lord Duffus just before the battle of Killiekrankie and would be one of the last important visitors before the castle’s abandonment.[8]

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    East Hopeman Beach, Moray, Scotland

    A seaweed covered rock attracted me to this scene:

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    Eabhal/Eaval (Mountain) on the Island on North Uist. This sunrise shot was a quick grab whilst rushing to catch the ferry to the Isle of Harris:

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    I loved the golden evening light shining on this calf in South Uist:

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    This is a shot taken from the Uig (Skye) to Lochmaddy (N Uist) Cal-Mac sailing. The mountain is the other side of Eaval (above) in North Uist with the body of water being The Little Minch.

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  2. Those pictures are fantastic and the text informative. But I'd like to see the images LARGER!
  3. Hi Anthony,

    Great series and text indeed the pics could be larger anyway i enjoyed the trip.
  4. Jon Neely

    Jon Neely

    Sep 1, 2008
    Fresno, Ca
    How many exposure did you use for the HDR on these pics? like the one with the field with the bale in the foreground?

  5. Hi Jon thanks for your comment, although I can tell you that NONE of these images are HDR, they are all processed from RAW in ACR then some final minor adjustments in CS3 proper.

    The Callanish Stones image has a filter overlay and probably has the most PP of the lot. The Seaweed Rock is closest to HDR but still far from it. For this shot I overlayed a +1 exposure and -1 exposure (both from the original RAW) to the original I then hand blended these using layer masks in CS3.



  6. Rich & Arthur, thank you for your kind words. I try to keep my images for the web no larger than 800 pixels on the longest side, these images are hosted on Flickr and I see a noticeable degradation both in terms of sharpness and colour when posted there so I'm not certain that a larger version would be any better but I'll try and replace these for something a little larger.

    Thank you both for taking the time to comment. :biggrin:
  7. Joe Skulason

    Joe Skulason

    Dec 4, 2007
    Fantastic images! A job well done!
  8. Jon apologies I missed your direct question on the Luncarty (Hay bale) shot. From memory this was shot with a 2 Stop ND Grad (could be 3, could be 1 - I def used a grad). In PP I overlayed a B&W layer with a low(ish) opacity, I also added a solid fill colour layer set to linear light blending mode (approx 40% opacity) to give the final look and of course web sharpening (which Flickr destroys anyway - LOL)


  9. Anthony, beautiful photographs! I've just left Northern Scotland (just outside Strathdon to be precise) where I was working and living for the past 5 weeks. Seeing your shots makes me want to go back.

    I was unfortunate not to have a car so rarely travelled to take photos, but walking distance from the hotel I was working in was Corgarff Castle, and beautiful rolling hills. Although your shots aren't so much of inland-Scotland, they still remind me so much of the scenery - and so much more beautifully so than I remember.

    Thankyou for posting. When I head back i'll make sure I make more trips to the coast. :smile:
  10. Jon Neely

    Jon Neely

    Sep 1, 2008
    Fresno, Ca
    Thanks Anthony, doing it the old fashion way, good stuff, because I dont know HDR very well that is how I do it too, what lens was used?

  11. Its a wonderful country Tristan, I'm glad you enjoyed it, I don't know Strathdon but I'm assuming its North East, near Aberdeen ?

    If you do get back here, drop me a line, I'd be pleased to go out on a shoot with you.

    Also thanks to Joe for the comments.
  12. Jon I have played about with HDR quite a bit to be honest but never really been to happy with the end results, perhaps I'm just poor at processing them ? I also notice a significant increase in noise and lack of sharpness at the other side of Photomatix. I was typically shooting 5 exposures when I was in HDR mode. But have since been making a concerted effort to get it right in camera assisted by filters.

    Lens wise these were mostly shot with the Sigma 10-20mm or the Sigma 24-70 f2.8 (neither of which are great). The last two were shot with the Nikon 80-200mm f2.8


  13. great job on all of those!
  14. glewis1


    Aug 24, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    Absolutely stunning photos! Thread is a great tourist brochure as well!!
  15. I agree with the guys: FABULOUS photos, but WAY TOO SMALL unfortunatelly.....
  16. Beautiful photos, and I greatly appreciate the descriptive paragraphs.

    I read "Whiskey Galore" quite a few years ago, and got it out to read again a few weeks ago but haven't done it yet. It was an enjoyable read, and I recall trying very hard to visualize the area. Your photos help quite a bit.
  17. Tanks for the excellent creative photos. We've been to Scotland five times and are returning again next June. The Highlands is the the most beautiful place on the planet to us.

  18. KristinB


    Apr 12, 2007
    Stafford, VA

    Just wonderful, as always! And I also appreciate you taking the time to include the information to help place each image in context.

    But larger pics would be nice -- have you ever considered Smugmug? You can upload your original images and Smugmug will downsize them -- no need on your part to resize at all. All you need to do is decide which version you want to link to. I usually choose the large version, which is this size (keeping with the theme of this thread -- Eilean Donan Castle):

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    You could go with medium, but I think it's too small (Inverary Castle):

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    Anyway, just a suggestion -- it doesn't sound as though you like Flickr that much.
  19. Thanks for the comments guys.

    Kristin, I'll have a look at SmugMug, thankyou. Lovely shot of Eilean Donan.

    I am slightly worried as to what size people are seeing as I didnt think they were THAT small, hmmmm.

    Rich I agree with you, I do think its one of the most beautiful places on earth. Thanks for the comment.
  20. Our software permits as much as 900 pixels on a side. Internet images can be generally 72 ppi. This is clear enough to see and loads quickly. Images which get much over 1mb take a bit to load. As our netiquette note suggest 5-8 embedded pictures is generally the range recommended for a post. We've has as much as 28 and more in a single post recently and that kills folks with dial-up computers.

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