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The Best Landscape Photographers in Scotland – Somhairle MacDonald

Posted on Apr 03, 2018 by Rupert Shanks

Landscapes are not something unto themselves. They transcend human notions of time and scale.

They are connected to the universe in such profound and unfathomable ways that although we have become very adept at controlling them, understanding them and interpreting them. They can never be ours. We project on to them: not the other way round. They don’t care for us.

landscape photographers scotland

Somhairle MacDonald

Note from the Editor – This is the 2nd in our series of Best Landscape Photographers in Scotland. Somhairle MacDonald, a native from the highlands shares his passion and what he has learned on his photographic journey below.

Somhairle MacDonald – It is my feeling that to take meaningful landscape photographs you have to connect with the ground in someway. Emotionally, metaphysically, universally… To just rock up at the Buachaillie, stand by the river and shoot the same photo that everyone else has is to miss point. In the grand scheme of things the mountain means very little, you mean even less and the photograph you take less still. It is sobering to know that in 7 billion years the earth will have been completely destroyed by the sun.

This is not to say that taking photos is unimportant, far from it. For me it is a very important vehicle of escape, a way to lift myself from the mundanity of everyday human life and connect with something bigger than me. Something that has no knowledge or care for my existence. It makes me feel small, unimportant but somehow connected to the earth, the solar system and the greater universe beyond. It puts me in my place – in a good way. It is common for me to visit the same place over and over and not shoot a single frame. I do it for experience, my physical and mental health.

Scotland rewards adventurers and those that will stray from the path, perseverance is a must, the weather will always try to beat you and this is when Scotland is at her best. I often say that venturing out in Scotland is like getting a slap from your Granny. It is harsh, unwarranted and callous but done out of love and for your own good.
There is only one way to keep your feet on the ground and that is to keep your feet on the ground.

Rum fae Arisaig

landscape photographer scotland somhairle macdonald

Rum fae Arisaig. West Highlands.

 

Arisaig is magical. The beach is a paradise in any weather and that view over to Eigg and Rum, well it speaks for itself. This image required a great deal of waiting not only perfecting the various exposures to compile the final image but also because a local crab boat crept into the scene and I had to wait 30-40 minutes to let it pass. It was cold, maybe -1°c but quite frankly I thoroughly enjoyed watching that slow wee boat creep along the horizon. The water was gently lapping at the shore and the sound of the boat’s motor was strangely hypnotic. I was at peace. Lochaber was being nice to me and I was very thankful. Being a fisherman is not an easy job but on this night that fisherman must have been pretty chuffed with his choice of career. This is a composite shot made of two images. One is for the foreground and the isles of Rum and Eigg and another about an hour later to freeze the motion of the stars. I have never witnessed such a long and drawn out sunset.

 

An Camus Darach

landscape photographer scotland somhairle macdonald

An Camus Darach, Arisag. West Highlands.

 

An Camus Darach. A place of great peace, of welcoming shelter and acres of golden sand. I took this one whilst on holiday in Mallaig. We had ventured up for Fèis Na Mara, for the craic, for the ‘Federation of the disco pimp’! We experienced this odd all day sunset one day whilst walking off a hangover. It was beautiful, peaceful and I felt at home. Deeply in love with my Girlfriend, my friends, with music and my country. You know lots of people go to Spain or Greece for their holidays but if you ask me… I’d recommend Mallaig in the West Highlands.

 

The rain in my blood

landscape photographer scotland somhairle macdonald

The rain in my blood. Locchaber, West Highlands.

 

So this image doesn’t scream July does it? I mean look at it, it’s apocalyptic. This image was indeed taken in July, in fact there were 3 consecutive days like this. This photo was taken just after sunset, not that you could see the sun, the onset of darkness certainly aids it’s drama. I think it does a good job of illustrating Lochaber in it’s true colours. If you have spent any period of time in Lochaber you will know that it has the wettest rain in the world. Lochaber laughs at so called waterproofs. I love how the weather here stands so defiantly against any human notions of how wet, wet can be. No matter how hard Lochaber hits me I always come back. Lochaber is home and it’s rain is in my blood.

Somhairle’s website

About the author

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Rupert Shanks

After a spell in the corporate world in London Rupert decided to find a more rewarding way of life involving a closer connection to the outdoors and to his camera! Rupert produces a lot of the photography and video for Wilderness Scotland and works within the Marketing team.

Read more articles by Rupert


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