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Featured galleries taken from the Richard Flint Photography portfolio

Scotland: Climbing Ben Nevis

By |2021-01-15T11:19:12+00:00January 8th, 2021|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , , , |



There is no sport like mountaineering. It is the overcoming of difficulties, the mental climbing, as well as the physical, that give it such a zest. The troubles of life seem to fade away in the presence of the everlasting hills. We may go out tired and worn in mind and body; we return renewed and restored: health re-established and friendships strengthened

Jane Inglis Clark  Pictures and Memories, published in 1938,

The high point of 2020… quite literally!

Even a bad year can have its high points. In my case, it was the chance to climb Ben Nevis during a visit to the Highlands of Scotland in September 2020. My experience was rather nicely summed up in the Jane Inglis Clark quote seen above. There were a number of occasions that I came very close to turning around and heading back down the mountain. I’m so glad that I didn’t. As the quote mentions, climbing a mountain is as much about the mind as it is the body.

The weather was the trigger. For most of my stay, the visibility had been poor for climbing Ben Nevis. For at least a couple of days, the summit was not visible from the holiday cottage. I’d have to wait and see if the right conditions appeared. On the penultimate day of the holiday, the right weather arrived. Clear skies and warm too. My old 1990s era Army Bergen, found at an outdoor shop in Norfolk back in 2016, was packed with water (not enough as I found out), dry clothing and food.

It was time to go.

A brief rest. Time to take a photograph and enjoy the view

The Ben

Ben Nevis gets around 150,000 visitors every year with around two-thirds making it to the summit. It is not the easiest mountain the climb up with even the 1883 Pony Track (also known as the Ben Path, the Mountain Path or the Tourist Route) being pretty rough to traverse on foot. The steady stream of climbers was also something of a surprise. The mountain climb is popular. Maybe too popular as the track can become crowded. Oddly on my descent, the track was far emptier. The crowds had gone.

As can see from a number of the gallery photos, walking up the path is sometimes akin to travelling up a steep river bed full of rocks. A walking stick (two would be better!) is highly recommended. Fortunately, I’d packed mine which helped me avoid a serious stumble or even twisted ankle most than once. That doesn’t stop people from running up the mountain with the current record set at 1 hour 25 mins – that’s up to the top and back to Fort William!

Clearing the Mind

Clearing the mind of all distractions is never easy. We’ve all had a lot to think about in 2020 with the COVID pandemic restricting our movements. At times it has felt overwhelming. One of the fondest recollections from that day climbing Ben Nevis is how it focuses you on one single task – to get to the summit. Everything else drops away so you are left with a very simple mission. After the constant stream of bad news throughout 2020 that was a very welcome distraction.

Weighing it all up

The singlemindedness of climbing to the top did have some drawbacks though. The physical effort involved meant that photography was reduced to a secondary priority. At the summit, photo opportunities were missed and I failed to shoot a single bit of video due to a limited timeframe at the summit and recovering from the climb. I suppose that gives me a reason to do it all again just because it was compact and lightweight. Once I reached the summit the DSLR was out the Bergen and shooting pictures.

I would have liked to take more lenses with me but the other factor that came into play is the weight. You have to carry it all the way up and back down again. One camera body was packed along with two lenses – a 35mm wide-angle and my compact and lightweight 80-200mm f5.6. My favourite Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 was just too heavy. As it turned out I photographed most of the climb using my phone just because it was easy and quick. Photo shot… start climbing again.

The Summit

Two people standing in the rocky landscape of the summit of Ben Nevis, Scotland.
The view is fantastic but the summit is not easy to travel across

Reaching the summit was surprisingly emotional. The effort of making my way up to the top had not been easy but I’d probably rate it as one of my proudest things achievements. Considering that a couple of years earlier I’d hurt my back so badly that I could barely walk up the stairs, I consider myself fortunate that I’d recovered enough to do the climb.

The summit of Ben Nevis is flat. It almost resembles a rocky moonscape and does not have that classic mountaintop look of Snowden. It is beautiful nevertheless. A single pathway allows you to make your way to the top but otherwise moving around on the summit is a challenge. Sadly my time was limited. I needed to rest and prepare for descending down the mountain so I had around 40 minutes to collect my thoughts, explore and take some photographs.

Two Sticks!

A mountain isn’t climbed unless you return to where you started. The descent was much faster and seemed easier at the start. Within a couple of hours though, I realised it was going to be rough. The impact on the knees as you go down is immense and gradually you feel your knees becoming weaker and weaker. By the end of the descent, my legs felt very much like jelly and I was pleased I had my walking stick with me for that extra support. I just I’d had another! After what seemed an eternity (the final 2 km seemed to last forever!) I finally reached the car park and it was the end of the day.

So would I climb Ben Nevis again? Directly after the climb, I was exhausted and any question of climbing Ben Nevis again would have received a rude answer. A day or so later I felt different. Yes, I would do it all again. I have a better idea of what to expect and could plan better. For a first climb though, I didn’t do too bad. I would have liked to shoot more photographs and no video recording was not great but that was due to the physical nature of climbing the mountain. Photography is usually a primary concern with a photographer but in some cases, the photography is overridden by much more pressing issues. It was the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever had!

I like the photos that I shot during my visit to the UK’s highest mountain. With no gift shop at the summit selling mugs or fridge magnets, the only memento to be had is a photograph!

Related Galleries

The photographs in this gallery form part of the Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands and Islands project.

My 2015 Edinburgh iPhone photography project called ‘The Two Towns’ can be found HERE

Photography Prints

If you would like to purchase a print then the Richard Flint Photography RedBubble store has a wide range of images available.

Framed prints, canvas prints, art boards, metal prints, acrylic block plus lots more can be found on the RedBubble store HERE.

Islay: Lord of the Isles

By |2020-02-22T12:09:22+00:00February 11th, 2020|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , , , |



Islay: Lord of the Isles | Documentary and Landscape Photography

Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland with a rich history, diverse landscape and plenty of whisky distilleries. For over 400 years Islay was the centre for the Lordship of the Isles. At their height, the Lords of the Isles were the greatest landowners and most powerful lords in Britain after the Kings of England and Scotland.

The journey to Islay involves a long, but beautiful drive through the Highlands, followed by a fabulous (depending on the weather you get) 1 hr 45 minutes ferry trip from the terminal at Kennacraig. The route is a busy one with many visitors heading to Islay intent on experiencing the nine distilleries (more are in development) that offer tours and tastings. I wanted to experience a bit of everything… including the distilleries.

Lordship of the Isles

Historically Islay was at the centre of Hebrides life for centuries. The Lord of the isles were based at Finlaggan, a remote location set on an island where the Lord of the Isles ruled over vast territory that included most of Hebridean isles and even in later years included Ross. Successive Lords of the Isles fiercely asserted their independence from Scotland, acting as kings of their territories well into the 15th century.

By the 15th century James IV of Scotland. had decided that he want to take the lands, titles from John MacDonald II, the Lord of the Isles at that time. John had made an alliance with Edward IV, the king of England, in 1493. The Scottish crown finally decided to remove a thorn from its side. The title of Lord of the Isles was taken, along with ancestral lands and estates, as a royal title and is currently held by Prince Charles.

Finlaggan

The visit to Finlaggan came with a problem to overcome. Lots of water. The previous week before my visit had seen Islay get huge amounts of rain which had saturated the ground around Loch Finlaggan flooding the pathway down to the island. Definitely a job for some wellington boots. The only issue was I didn’t have any. I could either look at Finlaggan from a distance or get wet. Plan B then. Drastic measures which resulted in me wading out in my walking boots and jeans. Certainly not the first time I’ve got my feet wet for a photograph!

The images from Finlaggan are among my favourites from the trip. The location had a serenity to it along with the beautiful scenery and the historic importance of the site. As with many historic sites signs of modern life like the visitor centre and local farms are present. I made the decision to try and use the ruins to block out anything in the landscape that ‘ruined’ the ancient ‘atmosphere’ of Finlaggan.

The Whisky Island

While a wonderful landscape and rich Scottish history may appeal to some of us, arguably the biggest draw to the island is whisky with nine active distilleries receiving a huge number of tourists and whisky enthusiasts each year. Each distillery has its own character and every tour has its own unique experience. Tastings are particularly popular with each distillery providing different levels to suit entry-level through to the whisky connoisseur.

Visiting Jura

With a day remaining it was time to take a look at Jura. The tantalising close landscape of the small neighbouring island to Islay draws you in and fortunately there is a regular ferry service taking a surprising number of passengers back and forth. The waters between the island can run fast during tidal movements as the water rushes through the narrow channel.

Although Jura has a wonderful landscape to explore, another big pull to the island is the small whisky distillery that produces Jura whisky.

Related Galleries

The photographs in this gallery form part of the Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands and Islands project.

My 2015 Edinburgh photography called ‘The Two Towns’ can be found HERE

The Edinburgh: Seven Hills project can be found HERE

Photography Prints

If you would like to purchase a print then the Richard Flint Photography RedBubble store has a wide range of images available.

Framed prints, canvas prints, art boards, metal prints, acrylic block plus lots more can be found on the RedBubble store HERE.

Edinburgh: Seven Hills

By |2020-01-30T20:05:53+00:00April 8th, 2018|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , , , |



Edinburgh: Seven Hills | Street and Landscape Photography

“Edinburgh isn’t so much a city, more a way of life… I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.”


Ian Rankin

‘in eden Edinburgh, centred on the rock
our city with your seven hills and heavens’


To Edinburgh’ by Valerie Gills

Edinburgh is one of Britain’s most beautiful cities, ‘a dream in masonry and living rock’ perched upon ancient crags, with the medieval maze of the Old Town gazing across verdant gardens to the Georgian elegance of the New Town.

AA Guidebook to Edinburgh

The description above does come from a guidebook but beautifully sums up the appeal of visiting Edinburgh. It’s one of my favourite cities in the UK. Fortunately, it’s only around 1hr 40 mins train ride away from where I live. Close enough for a good day trip out.

My first visit took place in 1992. That was a quick day visit with no real-time to explore but it was memorable for discovering the atmospheric. vibrant and welcoming old and new town. Little did I know that a return to Edinburgh didn’t happen until 2015 when I travelled up to visit the Christmas market.

The photographs seen in the gallery date from 2015 onward.

Street Photography

The gallery includes quite a lot of candid street photography, an area of photography I’d like to explore more. The bus commuter images are among my favourites. The images were taken in the rush hour from the window of the apartment I was staying in on Princes Street. Traffic lights regularly stop bus traffic – cars are not allowed along the street. The harsh light from the buses and other sources just add to the isolation.

The level of detachment from the other passengers fascinated me. The passengers seem to care little for interaction with other passengers. Mobile phones, mp3 players, Kindles, books, newspapers or just staring out the window helping to pass the time on the journey. They were surrounded by people, and yet acknowledging no one. They just continue on their journey home. It’s something I’d like to explore further and I certainly intend doing more street photography of the bus commuters at a later date.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill provided quite a few good images when I visited one icy afternoon. The wind cut through you like a knife. That didn’t deter tourists were there in droves taking selfies or admiring the Edinburgh landscape.  The National Monument of Scotland especially seems to draw quite a few people for family photographs and photos for social media.

My visit to Calton Hill was initially to look for a photo location that I’d heard about. The view looking down Princes Street was taken at that location. Calton Hill is very popular and I managed to get some great street photography images. The photograph at the top of this post was taken just a few footsteps from the viewing area looking down Princes Street.

Related Galleries

The photographs in this gallery form part of the Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands and Islands project.

My 2015 Edinburgh photography called ‘The Two Towns’ can be found HERE

Photography Prints

If you would like to purchase a print then the Richard Flint Photography RedBubble store has a wide range of images available.

Framed prints, canvas prints, art boards, metal prints, acrylic block plus lots more can be found on the RedBubble store HERE.

The Two Towns

By |2020-03-11T21:11:21+00:00January 29th, 2016|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , |


Edinburgh: The Two Towns | Street Photography and Landscape

The Two Towns is an Edinburgh iPhone photography project shot in late 2015. The start of the project started, rather spookily, in a similar fashion to a visit described by an author over 85 years ago in a Scottish travel guidebook from the 1930s. The book had been purchased a couple of years before from a roadside bric-a-brac shop on Skye.

In his book ‘The Glory of Scotland’, first published in 1932, the author J.J Bell eloquently describes arriving in Edinburgh via the railway :

‘Emerging from either of the stations, you find yourself standing with To-day and Yesterday on the broad pavement of the present, looking up at a panorama of the past’

J.J Bell – The Glory of Scotland

Exiting Waverley

Over eighty years later, that description still rings true as you emerge into the modern commercial hustle and bustle of Princes Street from Waverley railway station. This is the new town.

In November of 2015, I was arriving in Edinburgh for the first time in nearly twenty-five years, the purpose of the visit being the wonderful Christmas market. The Christmas market (complete with a big wheel and the whirling ‘Star Flyer’ ride) which takes place from late November through to New Year, also brings in the crowds to what is an already impressive high street. The sound of people, classic Christmas pop hits booming out, the smells of food and the sheer numbers of people walking along the street almost overwhelmed the senses.

The One o'clock Gun - edinburgh iphone photography from The Two Towns

The One Oclock Gun

Above the new town sits the old town, Royal Mile and Edinburgh castle – a reminder of Edinburgh’s history and turbulent past. In 1745, the Jacobites under the leadership of Bonnie Prince Charlie captured Edinburgh but failed to take the castle. The castle’s garrison continued to take pot-shots at any passing Jacobite rebel during the entire time Edinburgh was under the Jacobite rule.

These days the only ‘shots’ come from tourist cameras and the one o’clock gun, an L118 field gun fired by the district gunner and used to signal the time to the city. Originally it was started to help the ships anchored offshore keep correct time. The ship’s clock was essential for accurate navigation back in the 19th century. The ships may have long gone but the tradition for sounding the time remains.

The Ghost Bus

Given Edinburgh’s rich history, it should come as no surprise that there is a rich ghost trail culture in the city. I counted four trails that could be signed up to during my visit and I’m sure there are more.

One I didn’t miss was the Edinburgh Ghost Bus tour that combined the theatre, ghost stories and a bus journey. It is one of the best journeys I’ve ever taken. Comedy is the key ingredient with just a wee measure of horror to create a scary journey. I got ‘attacked’ by a haunted curtain! On the bus was a creepy conductor called Jasper who acted as a spooky guide.

I did manage to get a portrait of Jasper, who thankfully actively encouraged photography during the trip around Edinburgh. The portrait though was not easy to get. The bus was moving, it was dark and the lighting on the 1960’s era double-decker bus was not particularly great. Of the three images, only one turned out without motion blur. I believe that was down to timing and Jasper standing still. You may have noticed in the photo that he seems to have noticed me taking the photo and posed!

Technical Details

All of the images were taken using an iPhone – probably one of the best devices for taking street photos. The images are largely displayed in the order they were taken in. As for the monochrome style, the images were taken using the Hipstamatic app using a filter set first used for Sea, Sky, Sand and Street. I do like the gritty visual style but it does contain that element of danger of being overused. Like so many filters in photography.

Whilst taking the monochrome files off the iPhone I found the original colour files had also been saved on the camera. Several have been posted on my Instagram feed.

Related Galleries

The Two Towns photography is an offshoot of the Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands and Islands project.

Also take a look at the gallery for the Edinburgh: Seven Hills project HERE

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