Portfolio Galleries

The Portfolio gallery features editorial, documentary, landscape, portraiture and promotional images from self-initiated and client projects.

Northumberland: Castles and Coast

By |2024-05-20T12:07:52+01:00February 28th, 2024|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , , , |



Castles and Coast

Over the years, the northern county of Northumberland has played a pivotal role in my life as a photographer. It remains my favourite English county due to its rugged landscape and fascinating history. The landscape, shoreline, castles and history of Northumberland come together to create the perfect canvas for photographers. Around the same time as my visit, the photojournalist John Tordai visited the county as part of the Photographer’s Britain book series. Tordai had been brought up in Northumberland and the book was a fond look at the landscape, people and history of the ancient county. The fantastic documentary images remain a big influence on my work to this day. A small selection of images from earlier visits will be added to this gallery at a later date.

Northumberland

The flag of the historic county of Northumberland
The flag of the historic county of Northumberland

To say that the county has a rich history would be a bit of an understatement. As a border county with Scotland, Northumberland has seen its fair share of events that have defined the county’s history. The south of the county saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution with shipbuilding, coal mining and armaments manufacturing. Cragside House near Alnwick is an example of the wealth generated during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. it is the north of the county, however, that I’ve always found more fascinating with the castles, coastline and rugged landscape providing a lot of source material for the photographer to work with.

Once you get out into the more rural and rugged areas of Northumberland it comes as no surprise to find out that the Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England. Northumberland also has more castles than any other county in England, including those at Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, Newcastle and Warkworth.

Bright Light and Bumpy Seas

The weather certainly did smile on me that week. A mixture of blue skies and clear sunshine combined with occasional more moody and darker weather. The light quality was just perfect and that helped with finding photographs in the locations visited. I had wanted to visit Lindisfarne, otherwise known as Holy Island, but time and tides got in the way. Making the most of the time on the island would have been tough due to a very early low tide. An exciting alternative idea for a return is to take a boat trip along the coast from Seahouses to Lindisfarne where the boat docks to let people look around the ancient island. Something to consider on another visit.

The sense of emptiness is always there with Northumberland. The beaches especially provide a space to be able to wander off and barely see another human for some time. Bamburgh Castle has always been a great place to try to photograph the iconic building in a new fresh way. The first images were taken from a grassy dune infested with midges around a mile south-southeast of the castle back in 1992. Some fifteen years later the photographs were taken close to and around the castle in the village of Bamburgh. For the most recent images, the location was further along the beach heading towards the distinctive Bamburgh lighthouse near some brightly decorated World War Two sea anti-tank defences painted as Rubik’s cubes, dice and toy bricks.

The biggest challenge and thrill came with the tour boat out to the Farne Islands. The wind had made the sea swell rather bumpy which made using a camera just a little more difficult. The movement of the boat and the use of an 80-200mm lens made framing the image in the viewfinder a game of timing and chance. Just the removal of a solid physical foundation to compose and shoot photographs made it so much more of a challenge. The only respite from the waves was as the boat got closer to the shore of the Islands where the waters were calmer.

RFP Podcast: Northumberland Castles and Railroad Landscapes The Richard Flint Photography Podcast

In the podcast. Details on April's visit to Northumberland and photographing a couple of fantastic castles, the landscape, and more. Streamlining work on the website, to make the site a little more slick and light, and the problem with old WordPress plugins. Instagram and Twitter thoughts and RFP's social media future. The podcast link is for the excellent Railroad through the American landscape video work of Acme Cinematography on Youtube Podcast link https://www.youtube.com/@AcmeCinematography

Bonus Podcast: Favourite Northumberland Photograph Pt2 The Richard Flint Photography Podcast

A bonus podcast talking about the first of two favourite photographs shot in Northumberland in late April 2023. The image of the harbour at Seahouses is my second favourite photograph. View the photo at darkerskies.wordpress.com/podcast

Super Fast Puffin Flyer

If you enjoy a challenge then try photographing a puffin in flight. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The Farne Islands has a vast population of Puffins numbering around 37,000 pairs whose agility in the air is quite incredible. Although the puffins seem rather awkward on land they come into their own when they are in flight. They rarely fly in a straight line, Weaving and bobbing in the air at what seem incredible speeds, makes the task of getting a shot of a puffin in flight with a telephoto lens extremely challenging. I took many shots but came away with the opinion that it would take a lot of time and practice to get the photograph I’d be happy with.

The Guillemots colonies were easier to photograph from the tour boat and I was especially pleased with several of the photographs. I even managed to get one with a flyby from a passing guillemot. Fortunately, the movement of the boat was less energetic than further out to sea which helped reduce the problems of correctly framing images. I did wonder how some of the more dedicated bird photographers with their big lenses had got on. I’d found it tricky shooting with a 200mm let alone a 400mm or more.

The Darling Lighthouse

The Longstone Lighthouse looked fabulous in its red and white paint with a blue sky background. The tour guide even pointed out the window that had been Grace Darling’s where she had seen the wreckage of the Forfarshire, a ship carrying 62 people. The Forfarshire had foundered on the rocks and broken in half; one of the halves had sunk during the night. Darling, aged just 22, and her father, William, determined that the weather was too rough for the lifeboat to put out from Seahouses, so they took a 21ft rowing boat across to the survivors, covering a distance of nearly a mile (about 1.5 km). Darling kept the coble steady in the water, while her father helped five survivors into the boat.

Grace’s story after the rescue is sadly a short one. She died from tuberculosis four years later. During that time she became a national heroine for her actions during the rescue. Both Grace and her father were awarded the Silver Medal for Bravery by the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, later named the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Monochrome or Colour?

A number of the images in the gallery are in black and white, in some cases next to the colour version of the same image. I’ve added both versions because I couldn’t decide on which I preferred. Some images just worked better in black and white. I do enjoy working in both colour and monochrome and I can see myself doing more of that in the future. The Mull of Galloway Gallery provided a valuable lesson in not trying to limit the work created to just colour or monochrome. I have found a good workflow for black-and-white images, after probably too long a period of being too set on digital colour photography and being unsure about what digital black-and-white could deliver. It’s just about experimenting and finding some process that delivers the result you want.

My Favourite Image

A couple embrace on an empty beach at Alnmouth in Northumberland.

So many great shots were taken during the week-long visit to Northumberland. I recorded a couple of podcasts detailing my favourite photos, and to be honest I cheated and picked two. For this page though I’ll stick with one image – the couple on Alnmouth Beach. There are two versions in the gallery. One colour and the other the image I’ve chosen. I like both but prefer the monochrome tones better. I think it concentrates the viewer on the couple without the distractions of the yellow, green and blue tones of the colour version.

There is also something else there. Photographs usually say a lot about the photographer who has taken the image. The sheer sense of fun and joy shown by the couple adds an element of envy. Who wouldn’t want to be young and in love again? Are they embracing because they have just got engaged? Or is it because they are just having some fun on an empty beach, enjoying the distraction-free moment of just being together?

We’ll never know.

Photography Prints

If you would like to purchase a print of one of the photographs seen in this gallery, the Richard Flint Photography RedBubble store has a wide range of images available.

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

Mull of Galloway: The Lighthouse

By |2024-02-26T15:28:50+00:00October 11th, 2021|Categories: Featured Gallery, Portfolio Galleries|Tags: , , , , , |



Gulls, Gales and Grandeur

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point with panoramic views across the Irish Sea to the coasts of England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland. The photography in the gallery covers the Mull of Galloway but also extends out over the nearby Rhins of Galloway to include locations such as Port Logan and Portpatrick.

The visit to the Mull provided a great opportunity to see one of Scotland’s most beautiful coastal areas but there were a few surprises I wasn’t expecting. The Mull has a remote feel when you arrive. Stranraer is only 28 miles away and yet it feels like a Scottish island.

Big Screen

Film and TV productions have certainly tapped into this ‘Hebridean feel for several productions including BBC TV’s Two Thousand Acres of Sky and the 2018 film The Vanishing which used a variety of locations around the Mull and Rhins of Galloway. Port Logan was used in both productions to create a remote Hebridean location. The Mull of Galloway lighthouse also features heavily in The Vanishing.

The Lighthouse

The Mull of Galloway lighthouse stands at the end of the Mull and can be seen as you drive along the coast. The lighthouse was built in 1828 with the lighthouse becoming operational in 1830. Constructed by engineer Robert Stevenson, the white-painted round tower is 26 metres (85 ft) high. The light is 99 metres (325 ft) above sea level and has a range of 28 nautical miles (52 km). It is an excellent example of the lighthouses engineered by the Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson during that period.

Stevenson’s most famous lighthouse remains the Bell Rock lighthouse built in 1810 off the coast of Angus, Scotland. It is the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse. The construction of the Bell Rock lighthouse boosted Stevenson’s career and he (and later his son) went on to build many more lighthouses around the coast of Scotland.

The Foghorn

The lighthouse is the only fully operational foghorn in Scotland. Designed to run automatically after being started, the foghorn uses compressed air to sound a warning. Foghorn use ceased in the early 1990s as technology provided other options for navigation in low visibility. Fortunately, I had the privilege of hearing the foghorn which was oddly a very moving experience. The haunting deep note echoing across the water felt very lonely like a foghorn calling out and then waiting for a reply from another foghorn. Only no reply ever came. Hopefully, this working piece of nautical audio history will continue calling out for many years to come.

Black and White Photography

The photography style took some time to gel with this project. Originally the images had been shot to produce colour photographs. During the editing process, however, it became clear that colour wasn’t the right direction to take the project. Several colour images did work and have been included in the gallery but others lacked visual impact. The final decision to produce black and white images didn’t come until several months later during an image editing session. Sometimes a bit of experimentation and improvisation comes into play and produces the required results. Photography is all about experimentation and challenging yourself and the Mull of Galloway Images certainly managed to do that.

I’ve always loved black-and-white photography. It sees the world in a very different way and for many years I was purely a black-and-white photographer. Digital photography has made the creative process of black-and-white photography so much easier. Toners, different film and paper styles are just a click of a button away. Experimenting is so much easier and if you don’t like the results you can revert to a previous version. That said, I do look back at the Norfolk project with its gritty black-and-white photography with a great deal of fondness.

Copper Tones

The crisp tones and contrast in the images were the style I wanted for these images. A copper toner setting was used to give the images some warmth. For many years I used selenium toner on the photographic prints to create deep rich tones. I think the use of the copper toner in these photographs stems from that. I did try the selenium setting in Photoshop but preferred the warmer hues of the copper.

Bonus Podcast: Mull of Galloway, Scotland – May 2021 The Richard Flint Photography Podcast

A special bonus podcast recorded on the Mull of Galloway in Scotland. Three separate recordings made over four days while photographing the Mull lighthouse. The weather conditions were fine but very windy which added to the fun of recording the podcast. Listen out at the end for the Mull Of Galloway foghorn!

Battling the Elements

Photographing the Mull of Galloway came with a few challenges. The weather was probably the biggest factor with rain and strong winds being close at hand. Early on in the stay, a force nine gale was encountered that brought home the exposed nature of the Mull of Galloway coast. The sturdy lighthouse cottage I was staying in did not indicate the ferocity of the wind and rain. Photography was nearly impossible in those conditions. The wind and rain hurt as they blasted your face! It was some of the worst weather I’ve ever encountered but I imagine that lighthouse has seen worse!

Photographing the lighthouse at night was especially complicated by the wind. The violent gusts caused the tripod to vibrate very slightly – not ideal when shooting slow-exposure still images. Timing the exposures for a lull in the wind provided the best solution but the wind was a very unpredictable adversary. The violent weather did create wonderful skies though, full of layered clouds that created light shafts over the sea, shadows over the land or just added wonderful textures to the skies. As with all landscape photography, the trick is to be prepared and adapt to the weather conditions.

Fort Victoria class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) Ship of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary off the coast of the Mull of Galloway
Fort Victoria class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) Ship of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary off the coast of the Mull of Galloway

My Favourite Image

Many photographs stood out from the project. I especially loved the light and shadow images that visually captured the fast-moving changes on the Mull. Quite a few images also had impressive skies that seemed to be a common sight around that area. Winds, tides and the landscape create wonderful dramatic panoramas. However, the image I’d choose as my favourite caught one of the many ships moving through the area. If a camera was essential to capture the landscape then a pair of binoculars was just as important to take a look at the shipping traffic passing through the Irish Sea.

My favourite photograph is of the Fort Victoria class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) Ship of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary off the coast of the Mull of Galloway. The ship was waiting offshore one evening with a wonderful cloudscape behind it. The colour original was pretty good but the photograph only came to life when it was converted to black and white. The tones and textures of the sea, coast and sky came out providing a wonderful atmosphere to the photograph. The next morning the ship had gone.

Photographing Scotland

Scotland provides so many opportunities for the photographer. The country’s diverse landscape moving across the lowlands to the Highlands continues to inspire my photography. The coastal areas, such as the Mull of Galloway, also offer up constantly changing vistas affected by the winds and tides. The human interaction with these places is what fascinates me.

Fortunately, the Scottish Borders are around an hour’s drive from where I live. The opportunity to regularly continue photography in southern Scotland is there. The northern areas also include plenty of potential. The Outer Hebrides is one area of interest for future project development. It’s going to be a great project to contribute to over the coming years.

The photography comes from a mix of mediums including mobile photography. Instagram has been especially useful for showing images as journeys have progressed. The Two Towns and Seven Hills photography are offshoots of this project looking at the city of Edinburgh.

Plans include the development of some photography books, large-format photography, multimedia, and more.

Related Galleries

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

My 2015 Edinburgh photograph 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 Mull of Galloway print, the Richard Flint Photography RedBubble store has a wide range of images available.

Framed prints, canvas prints, artboards, metal prints, acrylic blocks plus lots more can be found on the RedBubble store HERE.

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.

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