Photographing Scotland - The Trossachs
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
A while ago a decision was made to go to Scotland, it had been a dream for years and I was finally going to do it.
For years I had seen stunning landscapes from Scotland and I really wanted to see them for myself and go and explore a bit and see what else I could find.
The trip was planned with military precision, I had decided to stay in the Inverness area as it was fairly central to the places I wanted to visit, mainly the highlands & the Cairngorms National Park and of course the Isle of Skye (although that was a fair bit further over).
I had found several locations in the North and main roads from Inverness went straight to them so it was a good starting point, the one main issue was it was around 650 miles from my house and boy, did I not fancy doing that 12 hour drive !
After careful consideration I decided that stopping over night around Glasgow area would give me a much more palatable 8 hour drive of around 450 miles and it was right on the edge of the Trossachs national park and of course the mighty Loch Lomond.
I kept a close eye on the weather forecast on the weeks leading up to the big day and I have to admit it was giving me cause for concern.
Every single day was forecast as rain, but not the good kind of rain & sun that yields rainbows and epic light, more the kind that gives nothing but flat grey skies, zero light and a complete soaking.
I was originally going to travel up in the late hours of Friday night so I could be at Loch Lomond for the sunrise but seeing as the weather forecast had said it was a non starter I decided I would leave around 4 am to avoid the worst of the traffic and still have some time to look around, in my head the weather had written off this over night stay anyway.
The shrill call of the alarm clock woke me up from dreams of mountains and snow and I grabbed a shower to wake me up and then put the kettle on for another wake up boost.
I had pre packed everything and just needed to load it in the car. I had done some shopping before hand so I had some food and drink for the journey and for a couple of days in fact in case I hadn't managed to get to a supermarket, Energy drinks (which I hate) were purchased for the journey just to be sure
Camera and case loaded into the car and I went to grab the food and drink bag and I could hear some sort of hissing noise, unable to work out where it was coming from I picked up the bag and it leaked its contents everywhere.
A can of Monster energy drink had got a tiny hole in it and was spurting all over the place soaking everything in the bag and the walls, a few choice words were uttered quite loudly.
After a clean up of everything and the offending can chucked away I was ready to go, this wasn't the start I had wanted and I was now running late.
I was anxious about this journey, it was long and tedious in my head and I wanted it out of the way as quick as possible.
I had contemplated stopping at the Lake District on the way up for a morning of photography but the weather had put the brakes on that idea, there was nothing else for it, point the car North and hit the accelerator.
I was making good time and the roads were being fairly kind, the weather didn't actually seem to bad either and the rain was holding off. As I went up the M6 it was nearly time for sunrise and I was well up for diverting off to find somewhere to photograph but then it happened, rain by the bucket load.
I cursed the fact the weather men had actually got it right, the one time I actually need them to be wrong and they get it bang on.
I kept plodding on and arrived in Glasgow around lunch time, I knew why I had picked Glasgow in terms of location but having arrived I was thinking maybe I should have gone further up, it simply put, wasn't what I imagined !.
After checking in after a mammoth drive I was keen to go out and explore a little bit, Loch Lomond was the first place on my list and after looking on the map/google earth etc and a few images I decided the East side of the lake offered me better access, opportunity and pull over places.
The rain had taken a temporary breather as well and I was super keen to get going.
Loch Lomond is very well known, it's the largest body of water by surface area within Scotland, England and Wales and is roughly 27 miles squared of surface.
It has some very scenic islands, over 30 of them in fact and is surrounded by mountains, pretty much heaven really.
Nothing prepares you for the first view of it, its size is mind blowing and as you look down it, it just appears to never end. I headed for an area known as Milarrochy Bay which had some lovely rocks in a line snaking out into the water as well as a single tree which was very photogenic and surrounded by mountains.
It was a very pleasant surprise to be able to pull right up to the lakes edge at a picnic area and to not have to pay for parking, Scotland really do seem to encourage the tourist trade there and make it as easy as possible as well as cheap to view the wondrous sites it has to offer, I liked this a lot and wished Dorset would take a leaf out of Scotland's book.
The light was pretty good and I got a few pictures right away as the light & shadow drifted over the foliage but I couldn't stop looking at the mountains behind me which were getting the best of the light so I left the bay in search of a good vantage point to make the most of the light.
This proved harder than expected as everywhere that looked nice had nowhere to stop and it was tiny roads do I couldn't risk pulling over and blocking them. I was in and out of car parks, nature reserves, up and down hills but I just couldn't find the right place.
After around an hour of frustrating searching I finally found a place that had a reasonable vantage point and got some nice images of light on the mountains and overlooking the Trossachs but sunset was rapidly approaching and I couldn't get Milarrochy Bay out of my mind so I drove back just in time to capture some nice light on the tree and rocks and even a rainbow briefly came out to play.
I liked Scotland, The conditions I had seen so far had been fantastic and the area itself was very, very beautiful and I was debating spending some more time here but the Highlands were calling.
I decided to give the bay one more shot at sunrise as the sun would be coming up behind me and I was taking a gamble that a bit of colour would strike the clouds and then illuminate the mountains.
The weather forecast seemed to agree with me and it looked good up until around 10 am when it would start to rain heavily and be wetter than an otters pocket.
That suited me, I could shoot Milarrochy Bay and then trundle on to Glencoe for a look around and then on to Inverness to my base camp.
The weather men had again been on form with a fairly accurate forecast for the morning and the bay looked very promising. Hardly any wind and flat calm with some decent looking cloud around.
The gates to the picnic area are locked around 8pm at night and I didn't know what time they opened again and as I pulled up as expected they were locked so I pulled my car to the side and hopped over the gate and started to get set up.
No sooner had I done this then another photographer appeared and raced towards the area I was shooting, a whole bay and he has to set up right next to me, irritating !
He then proclaimed it was going to be crap and he was "Neigh Bothered" and raced off somewhere else which suited me just fine.
The chap came to unlock the gate around 7.20 am and I rushed back to move my car into the picnic area and to avoid blocking the gate for any others turning up, I was expecting something to happen any minute, it didn't !
I waited till sunrise itself at 7.46 am from memory and it had been a pretty poor start but then that familiar red tinge started to catch the clouds out in front of me and steadily kept building until the dark blue sky was peppered with red clouds. I grabbed some shots as it was fairly short lived and then waited for the light to hit the distant mountains.
It teased me several times lighting up for a brief second or two and then going but I was determined to wait as the cloud cover was getting less and less and I was convinced that the light was going to power through any minute, This time I had got it right.
I was treated to a superb display of light & shadow illuminating the mountains as it rolled over them. The colours were wonderful, naturally saturated oranges, yellows & greens and I lapped it up taking a fair few pictures.
Several fisherman turned up and they added nicely to several scenes and for once I was pleased that someone was getting in the way of a shot ! That said I would have loved them to be in old rustic fishing boats rather than the ultra modern crafts they had obviously saved so hard for, never happy eh ?!
As I was driving back to the hotel to get checked out the heavens opened and grey clouds swept in like a dream crushing wave.
The Trossachs had just been a stop over really as I was here for the Highlands more than anything but it had been a very welcome one and although I had focused on just one main area I felt I had come away with some nice shots of it and also a good look around for the future as I knew I would return to the Trossachs for a much more focused trip on them.
But for now I was off to the Highlands and I was finally going to see the Glencoe region and I couldn't wait, Pointing the car north and I was off again.
Part 2 of my Scottish adventure - The Highlands will be out next week
Thanks for reading and as always, Happy shooting.