Julien Beyrath Photography: Blog https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog en-us (C) Julien Beyrath Photography [email protected] (Julien Beyrath Photography) Sat, 21 Aug 2021 09:58:00 GMT Sat, 21 Aug 2021 09:58:00 GMT https://www.julienbeyrath.com/img/s/v-12/u761951645-o173330620-50.jpg Julien Beyrath Photography: Blog https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog 120 90 A journey through Isle of Skye, part 2/2 https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog/2018/7/a-journey-through-isle-of-skye-part-2/2 I here narrate the second part of my photography trip with my friend Sander to Isle of Skye, Scotland, that took place last May 2018. If you missed the first part, you can read it at: https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog/2018/7/isle-of-skye

So here we are...half way through our week on Isle of Skye... with some decent shots, but an overall feeling of frustration. Partly because of the weather conditions, partly because of our too big motorhome that hampered us to stop wherever we wanted, and I believe also because of serious sleep deprivation. It was end of Day 4, around 11pm, walking back from the Fairy pools to the parking lot. Our original plan was to stay here overnight to capture the next sunrise, but we didn't feel like it. It was time to break the pattern. So despite the need for sleep we decided to drive to the old man of Storr! 

Day 5: Sunrise at Storr, hike up and Sunset at Quiraing

We arrived at the Old man of Storr parking at around 00:30am. Not the only ones there, few cars parked, we could even see two headlights already hiking up to the Storr, that's a little early...or late. We will certainly have some company up there at sunrise. But for us it was now time to get some sleep. 3 hours later we were up again and on the path to the Storr. Tough wake up. Good that, as always, our clothes and bags were ready, so no thinking required. Just get up and go out, don't look back at your bed. Another photographer just parked when we were jumping in our boots, somehow you get this little (unjustified) competition boost and suddenly feel fully awake! It therefore took us only 40 minutes to hike up to the spot we had in mind. Here we met two other friendly photographers from Ireland who did camp right on the spot, they actually were the two headlights we saw hiking up during the night. Looks like they also had little sleep! 

But hey, what a scenery! Absolutely stunning. And what a difference from the conditions we had few days ago at the same place. Well, now we can actually see more than 25 meters ahead.... We still had some time before the sun would break through to set up our composition and enjoy the view. Always s special moment. Behind us a stunning view on the sea and Rona Island. I couldn't resist to abandon my post and capture it.

Sunrise on Rona, view form the Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018Sunrise on Rona, view form the Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018

The sun was about to rise, time to turn around and aim the camera at the Storr. Will the rising sun breaks through the clouds and hit the rocks to give the dynamic expected? It might or might not happen, we just need few seconds of it! Turns out, it didn't really happened. Don't get me wrong, we got some very nice light but the clouds were a bit too thick to let the warmest light hit the rocks. But still rather happy with the shot, even had some tents in the frame that give the image some scale, can you spot them (3)?

Old man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018Old man of Storr at sunrise, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018

The key moment was passed and the light was not going to get better, so it was time to explore this splendid area. We spent another 2 hours in the surroundings before going back to the parking. Oh wait, sheeps! up here those should count as wildlife, isn't it?...oh yes, didn't I mention that? wildlife photography is definitely my first love. Can't resist. Just one shot, we had to move on, and also I was seriously starving (yes, again).

Old man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018The guardians of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018

We were back at the motorhome just before 9am, and before anything we had breakfast. I think we killed an entire XL sized box of far too sugary cereals before some bacon & eggs. We ate like pigs. I guess we were simply compensating the lack of sleep with sugar. 

We then drove up north to Staffin, but not without a quick stop at Kilt Rock & Mealt falls viewpoint. A beautiful waterfall directly ending its course in the sea, quite uncommon. No cameras here, just enjoying the view and the sun. Sander could actually hardly keep his eyes open, someone needs a nap. In Staffin we parked at the campsite to recharge our batteries, both cameras and ourselves. Funny that we entered the campsite when all other tourists were leaving, different rhythms. 2 hours sleep and a shower later we felt like new men! 

Next destination is Quiraing. Based on my digital scouting, this was the area I held my biggest expectation. It was a little far to hike from the campsite, and we were told not to try to park up there with a motorhome. But the friendly campsite tenant advised us to drive to Flodigarry and hike from there. So a plan we had! Bags got a little heavier as we took the tent and other camping accessories in addition to the cameras. 

This was a lovely hike under the sun. Not exactly sure where to go. So many options. We took some time to climb up the "table" through some seriously steep slopes (I might have picked an unofficial path :) ), not helped by our heavy bags, but what a view up there! To my surprise this was a dead end, so we had the "chance" to climb down the same way :) We must have been very focused on where to put our feet because we realised afterwards that we had missed quite a nice photo spot with a view on the needles of Quiraing.

Hiking down the "table" of Quiraing

Time was running out and we still hadn't a single clue where we wanted to shoot the sunset. In those situations, the best is to go simple, so we walked in the direction of the most popular photography spot, close to the car park. The view along the path was stunning, but again the sky quite flat for photography, so we decided to stop for a little diner with a view :) It was also a relieve to put the bags down after almost 6 hours hiking. Pasta on the menu! 

Pasta bolognese with a view

We accepted that we wouldn't get any great sunset shots so we took this time to scout for sunrise spots, and finally stopped to set up the tent...not far from our Irish friends we met the same morning at the Storr. Did a few night shots and it was bedtime after quite a long day. Although we slept in the middle of a stunning scenery, I've had quite a horrible cold and humid night (took the wrong sleeping bag! what a beginner). 

Day 6: Sunrise at Quiraing, Puffins, and sunset at Fairy pools

Morning at Quiraing, not a bad place for camping

No need for an alarm clock that day, I was quite happy the night was over! But feeling exhausted. Anyhow, time to go back on the field. It was a beautiful morning...for normal people...but for us again a bit disappointing. Where are all the Scottish clouds??? I went to the spot I had in mind, set up a decent composition, waited for the optimal light, pressed the shutter and slowly walked back to the tent. Sander and our Irish friends were still busy there, but I was done, time for coffee. 

We packed the tent and headed up to the motorhome. Oh yes, I forgot to mentioned that during the evening our lovely Irish friends drove me to our camper so i could bring it to the car park next to the tent. So yes, we could have actually slept in there...but hey, tent was up and it was part of the adventure. Anyhow, tent was packed and it was time to eat breakfast and do a bit of planning. We decided to take the day to rest and do something different. What can be different than landscape photography? well, the answer is simple, it's wildlife photography :) We drove to Uig where we found a campsite to park and booked a boat tour later the afternoon to spot some puffins! We learn it was just the beginning of nesting season, so we should see some. After a little nap and a second breakfast we were on the boat sailing to the Ascrib islands. After 30 minutes we could indeed observe the puffins flying from their nest on the cliffs into the sea. Funny birds. Time to get the big bertha (Tamron 600mm) out of the bag! at least I didn't carried it all the week for nothing! it turned out to be quite challenging to shoot with a 600mm standing on a boat :) but at some point I managed to find the rhythm in my legs to compensate the movement of the boat. We really enjoyed this little break in our journey! 

Couple of puffins in their nest, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018 Puffin at sea, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Recharged, we were back on the road as we had decided to give another chance for a sunset at the Fairy pools. No need for scouting as we know the place, so we arrived there rather late to avoid the crowd, and I directly walked back to the same spot as two days before. Quick set up of the camera and tripod in the river, and time for diner in the field, always a lovely moment. Tonight the conditions were much better, sunset light warmer, some clouds, definitely something to do there. Felt pretty happy with that shot! 

Camera set up at the Fairy pools, you need to trust your equipment!iPhone 6 Yet another wild diner with a view!iPhone 6

Sunset at the Fairy pools, Isle of Skye, ScotlandNikon D7100, 10mm, iso100, f16, 1/3s

I packed the gears and walked back to join Sander who of course was still busy shooting, and seemingly looking for something in the water :) Just his camera cloth, nothing dramatic...as compared to our last trip in Iceland where I dropped my phone in a river in the middle of the night! We were entering the blue hour, so decided to stop at the most photographed waterfall of the Fairy pools to give it a try. Although the water level was super low and the clouds had turned a bit funny I still went for it. After an additional hour we went back to the motorhome and drove to...Quiraing!! Yes, this place also deserved a second chance! This time we drove directly to the car park spot on top and had a decent 3 hours sleep, luxury!

Day 7: Sunrise at Quiraing, Road trip, Sunset at Glencoe

Last morning on Skye, but same routine, short night, alarm at 4am, brain's still off, stand-up, dress-up, take the bag, go out, and look at the sky! Clouds are there, adrenaline burst, brain's on! Yes, but they are on the east side, opposite to where I planned shooting, plus they might not let the sun through...Well, nothing one can do about, so I just adapted and went the opposite direction and try to shoot in the direction of the sun. It was still before sunrise so could manage the wide range of light. Although the picture is not answering to all basic rules of photography I still kind of like it. At the end that what counts, that you like your own pictures, whether others share your appreciation is another question.

I then went back the other side for the originally planned shot. The sky was (still) not great but the view remained stunning! Tried a very classic shot (based on google hits) with one of the few trees as foreground, and then another spot we found the day before. 

Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018. One of the most photographed tree in Scotland :)Nikon D7100, 20mm, iso200, f14, 1/25s

I would like to spend more time here to explore this amazing area, but it was our last day on Skye so I'll just have to come back another time. It is already decided, next time will be during winter season! 

Our flight was only tomorrow, but to split the long drive to Edinburgh, we decided to drive now to Glencoe area, also a photography hotspot. We passed by the Old man of Storr which was still in the clouds. We knew the sky would clear up soon so decided to stop and use a waterfall as foreground to shoot the Storr needle in the clearing sky. We actually spend two hours there waiting for the moment the needle will appear out of the cloud, observed by curious and puzzled tourists that could understand what we were photographing. Well not much actually, the clouds eventually cleared for few seconds but the result was disappointing to me, so nothing to display here...

Back on the road with 2 hours delay on the plan, we finally reached Glencoe area, but where to go? Too many options as usual, so we went simple and picked the spectacular Buachaille Etive Mor mountain! If you are an experienced rock climber you know what I am talking about! We had time to scout, so slowly hiked up the river to find a good foreground with the mountain in the back. Again the water level was extremely low so a lot of apparent rocks which made the foreground a bit busy. But we can be stubborn and with a bit of experience we both found a spot we liked. Great, we knew where to go for the sunset. Back there 2 hours later, we were blessed with a bit of nicely shaped clouds on top of the Buachaille. Just time to set up the camera, once again dangerously hanging above the water.


Camera set up at the Buachaille Etive Mor, Scotland. Always double check your camera is properly attached to the tripod!iPhone 6 Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, Scotland, 2018Sunset at the Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, Scotland, 2018Nikon D7100, 10mm, iso100, f14, 1/8s

This turned out to be the last shot of the trip (and maybe my favorite) as we skipped the next morning. Yes, shame on us, but after a quick look at the (flat) sky early morning through the roof top we decided to skip the last session and sleep a bit before the drive back to Edinburgh...

So that was it, a bit of mixed feelings during the trip, maybe due to the weather conditions and lights not as we expected. But at the end I'm still quite happy with some of the pictures. And most importantly it was yet another great adventure during which we learned a lot and gain even more experience for the next trip! Hopefully sometime I will be able to share it with other passionate photographers. 

I could write a long list of "do and don't" based on this new experience but I will restrain myself and just focus on the most important aspect of such a trip, i.e. the person you travel with, or not! I have the chance to travel with Sander (www.sandergrefte.com), who share the same interests and passion with me, and despite the short night sleep, the weather frustration and being 24/7 together, all went so easily. We motivate each other and kind of synergize to get more out of the trip and the photography experience. Because let's be honest, if I had been on my own I would certainly have skipped some sunrises :)  So no doubt we will go on with another photography adventure in the near future, so stay tuned! 

Cheers, Julien

PS: More pictures of this trip can be seen in the portfolio section.

[email protected] (Julien Beyrath Photography) Isle of Skye Landscape Photography trip Scotland https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog/2018/7/a-journey-through-isle-of-skye-part-2/2 Wed, 25 Jul 2018 21:20:05 GMT
A journey through Isle of Skye, part 1/2 https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog/2018/7/isle-of-skye Old man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018Old man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2018

Last May (19-26th 2018) I went on a photography trip on the beautiful Isle of Skye, Scotland, with my dear friend and photo buddy Sander Grefte. It was about time, almost 2 years after our unforgettable and successful photo trip to Iceland late September 2016. So we've had time to prepare...but also build up great expectations. We'd decided to do things a bit differently: spring instead of fall season, focus on a small area to avoid too much driving (although driving through Iceland with a 4x4 was indisputably the best drive of my life!!), and rent a camper instead of the combination car/ hostels. Well, turns out that those were not the best choices...we all make mistakes...let's move on...

Day 1: Edinburgh to Elgol 

Bags are ready... and far too heavy. What's in my bags? for the tech people, I took with me my Nikon D7100, Sigma 10-20mm, my trusty Tamron 24-70mm (2.8), Tamron Macro 90mm, and the "big Bertha" Tamron 150-600mm since I hoped for some wildlife. A few accessories, Manfrotto tripod 055, few circular filters (polarized and 10-stops), two remotes, and a lot of lens cleaning cloths as Scotland can be quite rainy :). The other bag was filled with all my hiking and most importantly rain clothes and some camping gears as we planned to spend some nights in the tent. 

Departure from home (Nijmegen, NL) at 2am with the last train heading to Amsterdam airport. Sander joined me 20 minutes later in Arnhem. Yes, finally, the adventure starts... in the middle of youngsters traveling back home after what looked like fun nights :)...after the usual airport waiting time we landed in Edinburgh at about the same time we left Amsterdam (8am). Picked up the bags, successfully pass the customs and Jumped in a taxi to the motorhome rental place. Our home for the next week was waiting for us, and to our surprise was much much much, much, bigger than expected! My bad, should have closely checked the size while booking, but to my defence it was anyway the cheapest available. Well, I told myself, that's alright, I've been driving something similar few years back through Canada, with the difference that Isle of Skye has very narrow roads and people drive on the wrong side of the road! Long story short, despite all warnings from the friendly renter, 400 miles later we were short of a wing mirror (: Luckily no additional damages, if we don't count my ego...and wallet. Retrospectively not such a big deal but still had annoyed me the first day of the trip...

Anyhow, we went on and decided to make a first stop at Eilean Donan Castle, where the parking was big enough for us to feel comfortable parking our bus, see below :) This is a very touristic place having been the stage of many movies, including Highlander! There can be only one! Our motorhome, parked at Eilean Donan Castle.iPhone 6 It was low tide which made the foreground a bit busy and distracting but it was nice anyway just to stretch our legs and play a bit with the camera, and have a first view in the background on the black Cuillins mountains of Isle of Skye!

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, May 2018Nikon D7100, 16mm, iso 200, f10, 1/320s

Back behind the wheel to eventually reach our playground for the week, Isle of Skye. We had a quite clear selection of locations we wanted to photograph with a rather defined schedule, except for this first evening. Carte blanche. We therefore decided to drive down to Elgol, a little village on the south coast of Skye that was not on our planning. After a long drive on a single track road we had reached Elgol, which by the way is also the end of the road. We found the unique parking with a sign "no overnight parking" and logically decided to stay here for the night. Sun was already set but it was still time for us to go on the field for the blue hour! This is it, finally, lots of wind, rough sound of the waves hitting the rocks, no one around and a sky that was looking promising.  We scouted for half an hour and found some decent foreground with interesting lines in the rocks pointing to the black Cuillins mountains. Played a bit with the exposure time to get water and clouds movement as wanted and that was it, first shot of the week in da box! Good start, good feeling.

View on the black Cuillins mountains from Elgol at blue hour, Isle of SkyeNikon D7100, 10mm, iso 100, f10, 25s.

We were just back at the camper when we felt the first drops...of what turned out to be a non-stop 48 hours rain! 

Day2: Sligachan

We left Elgol early morning and drove to Sligachan under heavy rain. Weather forecast was not looking good but after a couple of hours like caged lions we decided to go on the field anyway. After all, we are not made of sugar and rain can actually be an interesting photography topic. Turns out rain plus wind made a deadly combination for our equipment, almost impossible to get the camera out of the bag without risking serious damages. We walked along the river Allt Dearg mor for about 3 hours and came back completely soaked despite all rain gears. I came back with a single shot, that's a premiere! I had the unpleasant surprise to find the inside of my bag and lenses pretty wet, luckily no damages. We were now finally really happy with our spacious motorhome to hang and dry everything, and cook a proper bacon&eggs! 

Here I am crossing the river Allt Dearg MorPhoto by Sander Grefte, Huawei phone

Sligachan surroundingsNikon D7100, 10mm, iso 100, f7.1, 1/250s Day 3: Old man of Stor and Sligachan

That day we were supposed to be hiking towards Sgurr na Stri, one of the Black Cuillins mountain we could see from Elgol, and spend the night in the tent. But in the morning it was still raining cats and dogs so had to change our plans. Very frustrating as this was top of my list. We decided to drive up north to Old Man of Storr. We thought this famous rock formations could be interesting to photograph under rain and fog. We dressed up again with all rain gears with an additional protection for the bag and hiked up for about an hour...but where the hell are those rocks?? it's supposed to be huge and we can't see anything... just keep walking, and suddenly, 50 meters ahead of us we could see something, rather impressive! Tough conditions but we felt there was something to do. We spent an hour alternating between drying the objective and pressing the shutter, had to be quite quick there to avoid water drop on the picture! we were hoping the fog would clear up a little and we could have a better view on the old man but this time the cold took us, and with our hands almost frozen we decided to go down back to the motorhome. Why did I left my waterproof gloves at home again? amateur!

Sander leading the path to Old man of Stor...which seems to give us the finger??iPhone 6 Old man of Storr, rain and fog, Isle of SkyeNikon D7100, 12mm, iso 100, f9, 1/25s, digitally processed to black & white

After a warm cup of coffee and change to dry clothes we were ready to leave. Last look up and realized the fog was clearing up and that we could actually see the Old Man of Storr from the parking lot!! Damned, we should have stayed up there a little longer and would have had the chance to capture the weather transition...well, too late, let's move on. We drove back to Sligachan and parked at a campsite to hook up electricity and charge the camera batteries. The sky had completely cleared up, unbelievable, we went from full grey to full blue in an hour!! this is not what we wanted! Landscape photographers are not demanding at all, we simply want some clouds, but not too much, at a low altitude, but not blocking the horizon, is that so complicated??!! So we did pretty much the same hike as the day before along the river Allt Dearg mor, but under a quite pleasant evening sunset, what a change!! and we even got some clouds :) But this area revealed a difficult place for me to find some inspiring compositions. After some time I found a decent spot with some nice clouds stuck on the top of mount Glamaig from the red Cuillins in the background. All set, time to get my trusty jetboil on and cook our first yum-yum noodle diner in the field, love those moments. Sounds stupid but it is quite a special moment, when you have found a good spot, created a composition you feel happy with, have the tripod and camera in place but still have some time to enjoy the surroundings with a simple outdoor meal...just forgot the spoons this time, oops. Waited a little bit more to capture the blue hour and around 1am we were back at the campsite.Bed time. We will be back here in few hours to catch the sunrise at around 5am! 

Day 4: Sunrise at Sligachan, day at Glenbrittle and sunset at the Fairy pools

4:30am, alarm goes off. Ouch. Sander already with his head through the roof top checking the lights. Looking at his face it doesn't look too promising. Well, no time for hesitation, rule number 1 is "don't think early morning, just go out on the field". 10 minutes later we were on our way back to river Allt Dearg mor. Third time with different conditions. I was a bit annoyed because I had no real idea where to go, and similar to the evening before still couldn't get a grasp on the area. Sander decided to use the river and waterfall as foreground but I kept going hoping to feel inspired. Tried different compositions, playing with reflection in some puddles or using small plants and flowers as foreground. This was shooting for shooting. A bit frustrated I walked back to join Sander. He had his share of adventure by loosing his filter in the river and having a little refreshing bath to get it back, sounded much funnier than my morning.

Well it's actually only 7am! After a tasty breakfast we drove to Glenbrittle campsite. Here the plan was to relax before going to the famous Fairy Pools for the sunset. And we did enjoy some relaxing time walking on the beach...without cameras! 

View on Loch Brittle from Glenbrittle campsitePanorama, iPhone 6 We then realized there was another waterfall close by, much less traveled by tourist than the Fairy pools. We therefore geared up and walk there under a quite strong sun. This doesn't feel like Scotland. Nice place with a great view on Loch Brittle on one side and the Eas Mor waterfall on the other. I enjoyed the view on Loch Brittle and was starting this could be a nice place for the sunrise the next day, or maybe it's just because I like to be on the sea side, special feeling. 

View on Loch Brittle from Eas Mor WaterfallNikon D7100, 90mm, iso 100, f14, 1/400s Eas Mor waterfallNikon D7100, 10mm, iso 100, f14, 1/30s But we sticked to the plan and moved to the Fairy pools few kilometres further. Wow, this place was crowded, parking full, cars and campers parked on the side of the single track road...yet another interesting driving experience with our bus! Loads of tourists on the path along the river Brittle which has dug some pretty nice pools in the rocks filled with clear green or deep blue water. We walked our way up, until a sign indicating "this is the end of the Fairy pools". Here the magic happened as none of the tourists passed this point, while the best spots were still ahead! we suspect this sign was placed there by a photographer, need to thank this guy. Here the composition is much easier as you want the impressive mountains on the background but the choice in foreground is kind of unlimited. Here I found a spot in the river I really liked, and was only possible to capture thanks to my 10mm lens. The idea was to catch the last sun beam hitting the mountains in the background...but the clouds at the horizon decided otherwise. Let's be honest, at this point of the trip the frustration was growing. Retrospectively, I like this picture and am happy I didn't deleted it. But the feeling on the moment was not so good.

As a photographer I am always looking for those moments of excitement where you feel you have just captured a unique and ephemeral lightning. The moments you feel like you could just go home because you know you have a great shot. In Iceland I had experienced quite some of those moments (e.g. first northern lights) and here, after 4 days, was still waiting for it...But this is part of the game, one cannot predict when it will happen, you just have to keep going on the field, enjoy the great outdoors and be ready for the unexpected! That's what we did, the trip wasn't over!

to be continued....

[email protected] (Julien Beyrath Photography) https://www.julienbeyrath.com/blog/2018/7/isle-of-skye Fri, 06 Jul 2018 21:01:20 GMT