Iceland I love you

If Scotland is my first love photography wise then Iceland is the equivalent of a very exciting holiday romance.

There is so much for a photographer to capture. I went on a cheap package with icelandair and booked a couple of tours with a local company rather than on the massive tour buses with complaining tourists that believe that the northern lights should happen because they paid for it. I will post more about my adventure on a different post as this is about photography.

Image below taken with a canon 7d cheap 10x nd filter sigma 10-20


The Monumento alla Partigiana Veneta monument at Sunset

This is from roughly the same view point of view as the last post of fire works and using a cheap Haida nd 10 stop screw in filter. I was balancing on one of the blocks that are part of the installation and that you can see in the foreground. Everytime a vaporetto passed I was clinging on and hoping I wouldn’t end up it the water.

The Monumento alla Partigiana Veneta monument. Commonly referred to as the ‘La Partigiana’, facing the sea, it is dedicated to the women who fought in the resistance movement against Fascism during the time of the Second World War. It’s a statue of a woman lying down with her hands tied and positioned more or less level with the lagoon’s low tide mark


Giving your pictures a voice?

I was asked recently ‘what message I was trying to convey with my pictures?’ and this got me to thinking, what am I trying to convey?

On initial reflection I would have liked to say something cool…

But I’m not that cool, however I put some more thought into it and as photographers we should think about what message we are trying to convey as much as apeture,shutter speed etc Each of our pictures should convey something but what?

Advertisers, film makers and writers all start out with a basic concept and expand on this as the work through the process.

So 3 things to think about

Heart – does it convey something about our emotions

Head – is there and intellectual message or does it take a cognative, logical process to see the meaning

Conceptual – a common theme throughout a series or the heavy use of metaphors?

or all three

I think the majority of us do this subconciously, however their can be real benefit in being planned and concious of our message.

Let me know what you think my picture above says in the comment box if you have time

PS for my regular readers out there, I have had abit of critism from some photographers about why I would want to put ‘rudimentary’ training techniques on my blog, my answer is well people seem to enjoy them ;), so let me know if there any subjects you would like me to blog about in the future.

City Shots at Night

Sometimes getting access to the countryside, sea is not possible for long exposures, however don’t let that stop you. Using exactly the same techniques I talked about in the ‘Long Exposures made Easy’ post you can adapt this to cityscapes and buildings.

To make them look abit different, think about making them black and white. Sounds strange when alot of buildings are photographed because of the beautiful way they are lit however this conversion can bring a new sense of the place. Sometimes they work sometimes they don’t, there isn’t any rule to say when to do it.

The above shot of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow is an example of how this can be done…. what do you think?

Some tips

  • Try and take someone with you in certain areas of cities. I have had a few scary moments including stones thrown at me! (the shot taken below of the bridge on the clyde is definitely not somewhere to wander around with a camera yourself)
  • Security guards / police seem to think that anyone with a dslr taking pictures is up to no good, so reasearch your rights in the country your are in, a great card for the UK is here
  • Buy a new generic strap or tape your existing one, you may be proud of your camera but its an advert for criminals

More info about the GoMA

Let me know if you have any questions,comments or other tips for night shots, I would love to hear from you.

Use the weather to improve your photos -The Sun will come out tomorrow

In my last post I talked about how the golden hour can help improve your photographs, but I wanted to balance that post because you shouldn’t let the time of day or more importantly the weather negatively impact you taking photos.

In fact my friends used to wind me up because if we went out on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky, I would moan that there were no clouds! Living in scotland this doesn’t happen very often!

For me clouds and weather can add so much drama to a shot, clear blue skies can be boring ( I will talk more about how to overcome this in a later post).

The above shot was taken at Portencross on the west coast of Scotland, which I love because it is an hour from my house, has a castle, an old pier, great rock formations and dramatic sunsets. I took off that evening hoping for a great sunset and when I got there it was overcast, windy and there wasn’t going to be any dramatic sunset so I decided to go with what I had.

Patience is also a good attribute for landscape photos, the picture below was at Glencoe, we had to drive through heavy snow and we had gray skies, However I set up and waited in sub zero temperatures. I was ready to leave when the sky cleared for 5 minutes and I got the shot I wanted


  • Don’t let weather put you off you never know what you will get
  • Make sure you have protective clothing (especially in Scotland)
  • Protect your equipment, it doesn’t need to be expensive, a polly bag has saved my camera more than once and weather seals have let me down. I accept no liability for this advice!

  • Make sure you take a lint free cloth to wipe rain of lens, body etc
  • When you get home unpack your gear in room temperature so any residual moisture escapes (moisture hates lenses and bodies)
  • Tell someone were you are going and / or take someone with you if the weather is to be extreme. I have been glad of a fellow photographer a few times after nearly been swept into the sea!
  • A thermos with your favorite hot drink, you will be amazed and how good it tastes after a wild day of shooting.
  • Stay safe… you can always claim insurance to replace your camera but you are irreplacable

I would love to hear your comments or questions also if you have any specific topics you would read about let me know and I will see if I can include it in a future post.

Hope you have a great day (or not weather wise! 😉 )

Convert to Black and White

This picture breaks a few of the rules (rule of thirds and taken outside the golden hour)

I took this picture walking back to my car after going to the beach. The sun was high in the sky, I did take some ones that the composition was the rule of thirds but they just didn’t look right.

I use convert to grayscale on the Raw converter then dodge and burn tools to give more contrast.

The other thing I did was take the picture kneeling down, everyone can take pictures standing up, try taking some pictures from a different perspective and see what happens

So if you are out taking shots try these tips

  • Break the composition rules
  • Try converting to Black & White
  • If you haven’t used the dodge & burn tools, give them a try
  • Take some shots from different angles

If you have any tips that have helped your photography feel free to put them in the comments box also if you have any questions please let me know

Improve your landscape shots with the golden hour

The best time to take landscapes is in the Golden hour, 1 hour before and after sunrise or sunset as the light is diffused and you get the possibility of some amazing colours.

  • Get to your location 1 hour before you need to so that you can set up and a pick your frame
  • Bring a torch, you will either be arriving or leaving in the dark
  • Times
  • Find out whether your location would look better at sunrise or sunset. The above picture of Schiehallion was taken at sunrise as at sunset the mountain isn’t lit with light
  • Use an ND grad and / or a polariser (I talk about these in my last post)
  • Slightly underexpose to get deeper colours
  • Use a long exposure

The above shot was taken at Loch Rannoch in Scotland and the mountain in the back is Schiehallion or Fairy Hill

I got up at 5am to photograph the sunrise and it was amazing and I felt energised all day. I met a photographer on the way back from my spot and she said it was a beautiful morning, I thought, if you think this is good you should have seen it an hour ago! 😉

Hope you have a great weekend of stunning sunsets and sunrises, if you have any questions or comments please let me know. What was your favourite sunrise or sunset?

I also run 1:1 coaching sessions and training courses if you are interested please contact me

The Winged Isle – A Photographers Paradise

Easter break is almost upon us and like me you may be thinking of going away for a few days.

If you are a photographer an you fancy somewhere in Scotland then I can’t reccommend the Isle of Skye highly enough. It has mountains, seascapes, waterfalls and wildlife in abundance. If you are driving either from Glasgow or Edinburgh airports you will travel through the most amazing scenery and its a challenge not to stop every now and again to take pictures. My favourite is from glasgow through glencoe.

For sunsets look to Elgol and the lighthouse at neist point, for sunrise the walk up to the old man of storr (pictured) is worth the 45 minute slog.

There are loads of accomodation,however, don’t expect your 5 star city centre hotels.

I have stayed in the bosville and the skywalker hostel which were both good and at the different ends of most budgets

Many of the roads are single track and you need to be cafeful as I found on my way to Elgol pictured below.

If you are looking for 1:1 coaching for your photography please contact me at my rates are very reasonable for a half day.

I will be posting my next photography workshop in Glasgow for beginners in the next couple of weeks, if you wish to put your name on the waiting list or have questions around the workshops, please contact me at the email above

Please share any of your experiences of the Isle of Skye in the comments section

Wherever you go over the Easter break I hope you have a great time and get loads of pictures!


29 ways to be creative

I think every creative person has times where they have a block, which can be concerning when they think back to the day, week or month before when they were bursting with idea’s. I have a terrible habit of getting ideas at night when I want to go to sleep, which can be a pain as it is usually when I need to get up super early the next day.

The best investment recently has been a 50p notebook that I now carry about everywhere, I could use my iphone, however I quite like the charm of a note book and it’s easier than typing it out or getting siri to understand my scottish dialect.

I came across this excellent video with simple ideas to maintain creativity. Hope you enjoy it.