Photo trip report: islands to the west of Harris and N Uist^

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Photo trip report: islands to the west of Harris and N Uist^

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:30 pm

Hello everyone,
The second movement of the SSKPG Hebridean Symphony trip to the Outer Hebrides is now online at:

"The big skies, dark hills, green islands, emerald seas and white beaches to the west of Harris and North Uist."

Here is a taster:

Image
Taransay

Image
Looking towards Shillay and Harris from North Uist.

Image
Gannets diving off Traigh Lar, North Uist.

Looking forward to next summer's expeditions already.
Douglas :o)

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24087
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Composition

Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:38 pm

The composition of colours and 'bands' across the image are great in the third picture. It got me wondering, though...how does the original uncropped image look? It'd be interesting to see it for comparison's sake.
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:41 pm

Thanks Mark,

Here is the original
Image

You don't want to know how long I took to get this, mostly the gannets were against the blue sky and I wanted them to be somewhere near the golden section facing into the centre of the picture against the dark cloud. There were only 2 gannets and they took their time flying back into the frame as there was another shoal of fish further out.

We were on an exposed headland and it was blowing 5-6 and I had no tripod so I lay down on the ground and used my elbows on a rock to stabilise the camera, because I was using a 200mm telephoto setting.

Billy's shot of me taking the picture makes an interesting comparison.
Image

It's less effective because he used his OptioWP on wideange and auto. It was evening and the sun was low in the sky, and right behind us so the scene was well saturated with natural light colour but Billy's auto white balance setting has desaturated it to make it look like midday.

I used the telephoto to crop the picture to the colour bands and used the manual white balance. I used a polarizing filter to further saturate the colour and cut the glare from the water. A polarizing filter will darken blue in the sky but only if the light is at right angles to the scene, so here I stopped the sky getting washed out by using a soft graduated neutral density filter with the dark bit at the top. I used manual exposure and underexposed by half a stop to further saturate the colour and this gave me a little faster shutter speed to freeze the gannets (but none of my diving gannet shots came out). I manually set for the lowest ISO to further saturate the colour which was such an important part of the composition.

I was lucky, I only took three shots to get this one!

I had been thinking about this picture since last year but then the light was flat and not sufficient to freeze the gannets.
Image

The light out there really is fantastic,
Douglas :o)

ep_1956
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:35 pm
Location: N Wales

Post by ep_1956 » Wed Nov 09, 2005 7:16 pm

Hi Douglas

I'm breaking my usual silence here to let you know how much I have enjoyed this report, and in particular the account of the slightly delayed ferry departure.
The secret of a good story is definately in the telling - thanks

Emyr

User avatar
Simon Willis
Posts: 679
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 1:27 am
Location: Ardnamurchan
Contact:

Post by Simon Willis » Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:03 pm

These really are good shots. And all the better for knowing the effort and skill which went into getting them.

That you'd been thinking about one of the shots for over a year rang a bell with me. I had the good fortune to interview Galen Rowell (my favourite photographer) a couple of years ago for TGO magazine, and he speaks about this "pre-visualisation" of a photograph.

He also speaks about learning to see a scene as film will see it. I was just getting the hang of this when I switched to digital, which is emphatically not the same. Your description of using manual white balance has helped, and persuaded me to buy a book!

If anyone's interested you can read Galen's masterclass advicehere, and a separate interview with him here.
S

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:43 pm

Thanks Emyr, your rare post is really appreciated!

Hello Simon, I enjoyed your Galen Rowell interview when it first came out.

Sometimes a photo is longer than 1 year in gestation.

Image

I took this on 30/3/74, it was my last slide on good old Kodachrome II. After I took it a couple of geese flew into the sunset. I knew I needed that shot. But the haze which enhanced the sunst took several high pressure days to buid up. The sun sets in the cleft in the hills only at the equinox. The geese migrate to Iceland at the equinox so I had to wait until 29/3/02 till it all came together again. 28 years isn't so long as it sounds, when your patience is rewarded.

Image

Image

Then the geese came honking overhead...

Image

Douglas :o)

PS to save bandwidth I have posted icons that hyperlink back to the full size originals.

User avatar
Simon Willis
Posts: 679
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 1:27 am
Location: Ardnamurchan
Contact:

Post by Simon Willis » Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:45 pm

You should be writing for Practical Photographer, as well as Paddles!!

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland

Post by MikeB » Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:18 pm

Almanac'd! Quite apart from the stunning pics, this quote from Douglas' full photo set really does it for me!

"The exhilaration of the acceleration as I caught the wave distracted my attention from the waiting fangs for only a moment but it was too late. I was nearly on them with a fully loaded boat 2.5kilometers into the Atlantic off the west coast of Harris"

Right!

Mike.

CaileanMac
Posts: 582
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 12:49 pm

Post by CaileanMac » Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:32 pm

Douglas's quote really hits the essence of sea kayaking on the head for me.

Simple thrills, exposure, committment and 'quiet' adventure in the paddler's soul & head.

Douglas when are you going write your first book about sea kayaking or a illstrated guide to the West Coast?

CaileanMac

gizmo
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:13 pm
Location: Tregarth

Post by gizmo » Thu Nov 10, 2005 2:34 pm

Lovely Image Douglas, I admire and am envious of your skill and tenacity.
Paul

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Nov 10, 2005 8:02 pm

Thank you Mike and Gizmo.

Simon>
You should be writing for Practical Photographer, as well as Paddles!!
Thanks Simon, but far too technical!

Cailean>
Douglas when are you going write your first book about sea kayaking or a illstrated guide to the West Coast?
Hello Cailean, in the short term you will need to content yourself with my article in January paddles: "24 hours to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles: a Hebridean Overture."
Image
The photos are not on my own site yet so Paddles readers will get a preview.

The last sentence:

"Unlike Johnson and Boswell, we had found much to charm our imaginations in these islands and our trip was to prove to be only the Overture for a full Hebridean Symphony of a trip, later in the summer. "

is the lead in to the two Hebridean trips in July 2005 which I have recently posted.

In the long term I would like to do a book but not enough time....in the next fortnight I will be in London, Amsterdam, Lahore and Oslo.

In the medium term I am not sure. I did not submit an article for the February Paddles. Rich, the editor of Paddles, has emailed asking if I would do another article for the March issue, but I have not decided yet. Not doing a Paddles article this month gave me the time to update my own website which has been sadly neglected. There is just not time to do everything.

Watch this space!

Douglas :o)

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland

Post by MikeB » Thu Nov 10, 2005 8:13 pm

A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -A book - - -

Post Reply