It’s been an incredible autumn! Normally by mid – late October we would expect gales and heavy rain to have prematurely ripped leaves off the trees; but surprisingly this year we have been rewarded with fantastic autumnal colours lasting right through into the middle of November. In planning for a short photo holiday based in Pitlochry in north Perthshire two friends (David Shawe and Rod Armstrong) and I hadn’t been too optimistic about the weather for so late in the year and had resigned ourselves to expect winter conditions. Far from it, we happily discovered autumn’s Swan Song; here are my favourites from our time together with a mixture of colour, split-tone, monochrome and infrared images. Now we’re heading into the “dreich season”, my pet name for the grim period between the end of autumn and the arrival of the white stuff together with the clear, crisp days of winter proper.
This beautiful lochan is set in the middle of Faskally Wood; the shot itself isn’t a strong composition but I found the “u-bend” shaped branch and its reflection quite intriguing.
1.3 sec @ f/16 ISO 200 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 140mm
As with waterfalls, I can never resist photographing silver birch trees; here’s the leader of the pack.
2.5 sec @ f/16 ISO 200 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 86mm
I love the silvery tones of these fallen leaves spread out at the foot of the tree.
3 sec @ f/16 ISO 200 Nikon D800 with 16-35mm f/4 lens @ 16mm
Amazing trees and reflections; the monochrome treatment here lends a strong graphic element to this grouping.
30 sec @ f/16 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 155mm
I wanted the landing stage (foreground) to point towards the boat-house and avoid having light from the sky creep in at the top.
To get this composition I ended up standing in the lochan beside my tripod; I never go anywhere without my trusty wellingtons!
10 sec @ f/16 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 24mm f/3.5 Tilt + Shift lens
Ripples on the lochan reflect the remains of the day.
1/100 sec @ f/8 ISO 1250 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 200mm
Beautiful orange-tinted ferns, photographed from across the Bruar Water ravine; the square crop keeps the eye from wandering out of the frame.
1/4 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 170mm
Ridges of rock at the edge of the deep ravine; the precariously positioned down-cast tree is at the other side of the ravine.
1/4 sec @ f/10 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 24mm f/3.5 Tilt + Shift lens
Some would describe this as a mere record shot however the shapes and colours within the image work for me.
2 sec @ f/16 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens
I love waterfalls!
The character of this fall is enhanced by contrast in the wet rocks and the wonderful colour of the bracken on the margins; the 8 second exposure is just right to keep texture in the flow without the water going too “milky”.
8 sec @ f/16 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 95mm
This is a much wider view taken to encompass the base of the fall; I was greatly torn between the colour and the B&W versions of the image but the latter prevailed as I felt that it was more important to present graphic shape and form than the colouring seen in the earlier.
63 sec @ f/14 ISO 160 Nikon D800 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens
This and the following three images were all shot on a Nikon D3 camera body specially converted for infrared capture to give that slightly surreal look. What an incredible, rounded hillside in this first image.
1/80 sec @ f/11 ISO 200 Nikon D3 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 95mm Infrared
Wonderful textures and tones in this image and the following two images.
1/80 sec @ f/11 ISO 200 Nikon D3 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 105mm Infrared
Definitely one of my top favourites.
1/80 sec @ f/11 ISO 200 Nikon D3 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 200mm Infrared
Texture, shape and tone “make” this image.
1/60 sec @ f/16 ISO 800 Nikon D3 with 16-35mm f/4 lens @ 19mm Infrared
I knew there was an image to be found at this location but I was struggling somewhat; and it didn’t help that I had stepped into a boggy patch deep enough to go over my wellington boot! However, I like the colour distinction between the warm grasses on the one hand and the cool, blue-greys of the overcast sky and the icy water of the lochan on the other.
0.6 sec @ f/16 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 24mm f/3.5 Tilt + Shift lens
Look hard enough and you will eventually find something of interest; the air bubbles trapped under the ice combined with the frozen grasses form interesting patterns.
1/100 sec @ f/8 ISO 800 Nikon D3 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens Infrared
Returning to one of my pet themes; nature struggling, pushing and growing though inert rock.
1/125 sec @ f/8 ISO 800 Nikon D3 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 105mm Infrared
Something a bit different; here an infrared image is given a cool / warm split-tone treatment in post-processing. I also love the sweep of the road drawing the eye into the picture.
1/640 sec @ f/8 ISO 800 Nikon D3 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 105mm Infrared
The first icicles of winter, spotted in a fissure of rock and given a suitably cool tone in post-processing.
1/50 sec @ f/11 ISO 800 Nikon D3 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens Infrared
The shape of the land, the trees and the background hills echo each other as they rise and fall together. Again, this is a split-toned infrared file.
1/400 sec @ f/8 ISO 500 Nikon D3 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens Infrared
Standing in Loch Rannoch and in failing light, I was fortunate enough to capture Schiehallion before deteriorating weather obscured the distant peak completely. As an after thought I am very happy that the severed trunk seems to point in the direction of Schiehallion. This is a standard colour capture but given a split-tone treatment afterwards in Adobe LightRoom.
30 sec @ f/16 ISO 640 Nikon D800 with 24mm f/3.5 Tilt + Shift lens
Sad-looking tree stumps standing in Loch Rannoch.
30 sec @ f/16 ISO 640 Nikon D800 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens
The last day saw us standing on the banks of beautiful Loch Tummel and we couldn’t have wished for better weather; it was a perfect late autumn day and none of us could resist the equally wonderful reflections seen in this and the following images.
1/5 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 82mm
1/10 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 200mm
1/15 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 70mm
This last image of Loch Tummel, shot in infrared, captured the lighting on the hillside trees and the magnificent cloud formation, perfectly.
1/250 sec @ f/8 ISO 200 Nikon D3 with 45mm f/2.8 Tilt + Shift lens Infrared
Our last stop was at Braan Gorge; here I was totally absorbed in photographing the swirling water to create random abstract patterns. No two exposures achieved the same abstract and although not all worked well, this and the following two exposures were my top favourites from the exercise; apart from the cropping they are pretty much straight out of the camera.
15 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 100mm
20 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 105mm
20 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 155mm
I have photographed the Falls of Braan on several occasions but this was the first time using infrared; it copes exceedingly well with the extremes of contrast from the shadowed rocks in the crevice through to highlights on the thundering cascade. Again, this image has been given a slight split-tone affect, cooling the darker tones whilst warming the lighter ones.
1/6 sec @ f/11 ISO 640 Nikon D3 with 16-35mm f/4 lens @ 28mm Infrared