On behalf of Wex Photographic who run the weekly #WexMondays competition on Twitter, I've written a 'Behind the Shot' blog about the above image that was taken at Loch Sligachan on the Isle of Skye.
My family hail from Dumfriesshire and Galloway, so Scotland has always been one of those places that feels very much like returning home. Whilst on a plane to Melbourne, I met a woman who lived on the Western Isles and she regaled me with tales of the light that moved across the Isles. Since then, I’ve always wanted to explore such a landscape, and I finally grabbed the opportunity at the beginning of this month.
The one thing about Skye, and Scotland is general, is that it’s virtually impossible to judge the weather. It’s one of the things that makes the place so alluring. On this particular morning, I had it in mind that I’d head out to Loch Sligachan, which was only a 20 minute drive from the little cottage we had rented on the western side of the Island.
Carbost was foggy, contrary to the forecast, but further east the skies had begun to clear, leaving a layer of fog and mist lingering close to the Loch. I scrambled down and hopped over a few rocks, as the water quietly moved beneath me (Sligachan is a sea lock, and moves with the tide).
I’d chosen to shoot on my Canon 5D Mk III on this particular morning. I oscillate between this and my Fujifilm X-T1, but having rented the Canon 24mm TS-E to try, I learned towards the Canon. Mounted on my Three Legged Thing tripod (x1.1 Brian Evolution 2), I was using my new Lee Filter Landscape Circular Polariser, and 0.9 soft ND Grad to keep the sky from overexposing and ensuring I kept some of the detail in the water. Progressively, the light caught on the mist from the sun rising over the Cuillin mountain range and illuminated the scene. In the distance an otter splashed and played, chasing after a morning feed, a magical moment to witness.
As I shot this on a prime lens, the focal length remained at 24mm. I didn’t want too much movement in the water, so instead of compromising on the ISO (I’m one of those people who likes to keep my ISO as low as absolutely possible), I set the aperture to f/11 and the shutter speed to 1/25. My camera was set to Aperture Priority as I tend to move between this and Manual. The next few shots were in Manual mode, but I ended up choosing this one for it’s particularly dramatic light. Accommodating for the fact that I was in Aperture Priority, I underexposed by 1-stop to ensure that I kept all the detail in the sky. I could have added another ND Grad, but the results can sometimes be unpredictable. Looking downwards, I realised that the tide had turned and my access back to the shoreline was fast disappearing, so it was time for me to jump ashore, lest I get wet feet.
In post, my aim was to get as close to the original scene as possible. The camera was pretty good at capturing the detail, but some of the warmth and colour had been lost. My original RAW file below demonstrates the image straight out of camera. My general workflow starts in Lightroom and moves to Photoshop, and my intention was to bring out the highlights in the hillside across the water, both above and below water. All photography is subjective, and it’s often a fine line between too little and too much saturation. Looking at this image now, the orange/yellow saturation is slightly too much, and I’d be inclined to bring it down a notch. However, on a computer screen, subtleties can often be lost, and I always err on the side of colourful.
All things considered, it was certainly a successful morning and one of the best sunrises that I witnessed on Skye during my time there.
In terms of difficulty, I would definitely say that the elements were in my favour, and other than the rising tide and the changing light, I didn't have too many issues capturing the image, so I would give it a 4/10.
Here are a section of images from that morning to compliment the original.