Knowing the weather was going to be great last Saturday, I started planning a sunrise trip to Loch Restil, Argyll and Bute on the Tuesday beforehand for a sunrise, and whilst up that way, I had a drive about too. Keeping an eye on the weather using the Android The Weather Channel app, it was looking promising all week, little cloud, no wind so that the Loch would be mirror-like, and dry with the chance of sunny spells, perfect. I also use The Photographers Ephemeris to plan not only sunrise and sunset times, but also the angle of the sun at any given location. It’s a vital planning tool for any landscape photographer, and I use it for every trip I take.
So now it was all planned and looked great, I set a 3.30am alarm clock for Saturday morning, for a 4am set off for a 2 and a half hour drive North from Carlisle. The drive was pretty uneventful, although the temperature dropped as low as -7*c on my way up over Beattock on the M74. A quick pit stop in Dumbarton, and then on to my planned sunrise location.
On my arrival, I was chuffed to see Beinn an Lochain reflecting in the water, even in the dawn light, the location looked just great. I arrived a good hour before sunrise, as I always do on any location I go to, to capture the first image in what’s known as ‘the blue hour’
Once I took the shot, I had a little bit of a wander about the frozen shoreline to find a good composition, and then waited for the light to arrive. I planned it so I would get the first warm light on the peak of Beinn an Lochain, and with the sky with light patchy cloud, the loch mirror-like, I was hopeful of this all working out as planned. I could see the light changing in the clouds, and knew it wasn’t far from breaking onto the mountainside….the anticipation of the light appearing was exciting, to know that I just needed this one more element for my plan to work out 100%, I stood with the biggest grin on my face when it happened, witnessing this, all by myself with only the sounds of nature by my side, it’s one of those rare moments we witness.
After this, I had another planned shot in mind, which was just around the corner, so I went back to the car and headed along for Easan Dubh waterfall, with hopefully still a bit of morning light on the snowy Beinn an Lochain. I wasn’t sure what to expect at this location, as I literally planned it by just seeing the waterfall on Google Earth, so wasn’t entirely sure of the view, but it wasn’t so bad….
By now the light was starting to get really harsh, not ideal shooting conditions, so I picked up the map and had a quick look at where I could go….the roadtrip to explore had begun. I took a wee drive up to Inverary, and decided to head across to Loch Awe, to see if it was going to be as still as Loch Restil for some reflection shots of Kilchurn Castle. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, so I headed on toward Dalmally, then decided to take a drive along Glen Orchy, as I know there’s a couple of spots along there worth having a look at for future shots. The camera never left the bag along here, and before I knew it, I was out of the glen and onto my favourite road, the A82 and heading towards Glencoe. The weather was lovely, but it was too nice for my kind of shots, so I used the 400mm prime to pick out a couple of walkers on top of the magnificent Buachaille Etive Mor…
Having spent a lot of time in Glen Coe, I refused to take any shots that were classic Glen Coe shots, and decided to just enjoy some time there without picking up the camera, just enjoying the beautiful day in a beautiful part of the world….and I enjoyed it so much! Not being one just to head for home, I decided to go the long way round and headed on through to Glencoe village, and on towards Oban, and by then decided to head back towards the area I first set off for, stopping to take a 6 image stitch panorama of Connel Bridge…
…and then on back towards The Rest and be Thankful and Glen Croe. I spotted a wee bridge that I wanted to shot earlier in the day, but the light was too harsh, so thought I’d stop and have a look on the way back, with some late afternoon light and time to kill…
…then stopping off again at Loch Restil as the light was lovely on the hills behind, and the water still beautifully still enough for some reflection shots…
As the sky was getting featureless towards where I would be facing for sunset, I took the decision to head for home early, and not hang about for sunset, but I couldn’t resist that classic shot along Glen Croe from the top of The Rest and be Thankful…another 6 image stitched panorama, which could be printed huge if needs be.
At this point, I packed everything away, emptied my last cup of hot chocolate from my flask and sat and enjoyed the view for 10 minutes, and then headed back south for 2 and a half hours for home.
All in all, a fantastic day out, where I could have headed for home after my planned sunrise shot came off, it would have been a waste of a day doing so. A lot of new locations explored, a couple of new shots worth revisiting for when the conditions are right, a new tripod well and truly broken in, 426 miles driven, a few photos taken, and what I consider a cracking road trip!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed my first blog, and please keep an eye out for many more in the future, including one from the upcoming Isle of Skye workshop I’m running next week. If you have any feedback, please use the contact me page and I’ll get back to you.