Aberdeen road trip

So I had to be up in Aberdeen on Saturday gone, so I made a day of it and planned a sunrise trip up to Rattray Head lighthouse with my good friend Phil.  Rattray Head is a place that’s been kind to me in the past, as an image I made on my very first visit, again with Phil, got me commended in the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year 2015.

Earlier in the week before, the weather forecast was looking really promising, but I didn’t take too much notice of it seeing as I was up in Aberdeen anyhow, so I was going, forecast great or not.  Well it turned out that it wasn’t so great.  At all.  Flat grey skies and rain, but I headed out undeterred.  It’s been a long while since I’ve been out shooting in the rain.  I used to thrive on it.  So I enjoyed it a lot.

Wandering down toward the beach through the dunes, the sand has moved a lot since my last visit, and spotted these rocks, and thought they’d work as a different take on a location that is shot quite a lot, whilst it wasn’t good when we first walked down, I took a shot later in the morning before packing up, I quite like it….

It was great to see some motion in the sea too, as it’s been pretty flat down here when I’ve been out recently…..


As i walked along the beach, I seen something lying on the wet sand, moving about, and upon further inspection, and walking further along, I noticed it was a little seal.  I love these little fellas, and was worried it was in distress so I took a closer look, not getting close enough that it worried it, but it seemed fine once I got closer, so I took a quick snap, such a cute little thing….


After this the rain started to come on a bit stronger, which was a pain as I wanted to do some long exposures using the Lee Filters little stopper, so it was a challenge keeping the rain off the filters for some 30 second exposures.  All the other images were taken with no graduated filters at all, choosing to use the lens hood instead to keep the front lens element dry instead.  The dynamic range of the Sony a7ii really came into play, and only needed a slight graduated filter in post processing to bring the sky back as good as it was.

So onto the long exposures, I wandered to the opposite end of the beach in the aim to angle the camera away from the rain as much as I could, and it worked out well for a couple of images….both 30 second exposures that turned out lovely considering the wet miserable conditions they were shot it.


I then wandered into the dunes and made one more image before deciding enough was enough, the camera gear was soaked, I was starting to get wet through my jacket, so we called it a day after I took this image and headed back to the car….I just love the colour in the grasses in this one, and a slightly longer exposure allowing the grasses to blow in the wind a little, just to soften the image that touch, but not flattening out the motion in the sea.


Once back to the car, we headed down the road, checking out a couple of locations for future reference, and they didn’t disappoint, so another trip up when the weather and tides coincide for what’s in my mind is in order I think.  We then had some breakfast and headed on back down into Aberdeen.  Phil suggested a look at the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour in Aberdeen, as the sea was quite lively, we could get some images of the water crashing up the harbour wall.

I really enjoyed it here, I’ve only looked at a couple of images from this spot so far, but they both work for me.  The first is an image I cropped square to lose some sky and some dead space.  The exposure was long enough to capture the water spilling over the rocks in the foreground, but not long enough to flatten out the waves hitting the harbour entrance wall.

Now onto my favourite image I made in the whole day.  It’s very “marmite” in it’s style, selective colour doesn’t really do it for me, but with it being quite a grey day as it was, as soon as I seen the red ship coming out of the harbour, I just had to make this image.  An exposure of 8 seconds to make the water soften down a little, and to blur the ship as it moved through the image, I wanted to position it behind the lighthouse to help make the lighthouse stand out against the red of the ship….I hope you enjoy!


That was the final shot of the day before I went to where I had to be, and then head back on down the road home.  When people say “oh the weather isn’t good enough to head out” don’t listen to them.  I love nothing more than shooting in challenging conditions, and I hope my images here are proof that you don’t need a blazing red sunrise, dry conditions or even any light at all, you can make images whatever the conditions, you just need to know how.

Thanks for reading about one of my little day trips, I love getting out with the camera with good friends, and if I come home with some images to talk about, then that’s a bonus.

All images were taken using a Sony a7ii along with a Sony Zeiss 24-70 F4 ZA OSS lens, Lee Filters and Benro tripod.