Mull of Galloway: The Lighthouse

By |2021-10-25T11:51:27+01:00October 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 a number of 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 has 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 for 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. A number of 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 back 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 was 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! Released regularly, the Richard Flint Photography audio podcast contains news, featured photographers, upcoming exhibitions, links to photography plus more.

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 really brought home the exposed nature of the Mull of Galloway coast. The sturdy lighthouse cottage I was staying in gave no indication of the ferocity of the wind and rain. Photography was near impossible in those conditions. The wind and rain actually hurt as they blasted your face! It was definitely 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 continue 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 really 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 too. 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.

Future plans include the development of a number of 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 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 aMull 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.

Lost in thought on a Norfolk Beach

By |2021-04-23T14:26:47+01:00April 23rd, 2021|Categories: Blog, The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

man walking along the beach near Cromer in Norfolk, UK

Back in the Archive

There is nothing like a Norfolk beach for clearing your head and finding some peace. Recently I’ve been diving into my digital archive which was an enjoyable if sometimes overwhelming experience. It often comes as a shock to realize how many years have gone by since some of the images were taken. Over the next few months, I’ll be posting some of the photos I’ve found and talking about how the photograph came about.

Rough Weather

This photo was taken in Norfolk in the summer of 2008. I’ve always liked the sense of peace. I spotted this man lost in his own thoughts wandering along the beach between Cromer and East Runton in Norfolk. The weather was very humid and storms had been occurring every day like clockwork. A warm wind had built up and the sea had become quite rough. You could feel in the air that another storm was building up.

Around five shots were taken of this guy walking along the Norfolk beach but this one captured the moment. His head is down in thought and the waves had pushed water up the beach for us to both walk through.

I turned back once I reached East Runton and headed back to Cromer where my car was parked.

Prints at Redbubble

This photograph and many more can be purchased as wall art, clothing, phone cases etc via at https://richflintphoto.redbubble.com/

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.

Border Blue Sky

By |2019-05-17T13:13:59+01:00May 17th, 2019|Categories: The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

East Coast railway train crossing the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick Upon Tweed in Northumberland.
East Coast railway train crossing the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick Upon Tweed in Northumberland.

It was a quick hop, skip and a jump over the Scottish border last weekend with blue skies high above. The weather couldn’t have been any better. It was far removed from the mist and rain of Edinburgh a few weeks before.

The last time I’d visited the borders was in 1992. That visit was part of a family holiday that achieved legendary status. In 15 days we visited various locations in Northumberland, moved into the border areas of Scotland and then finished the holiday in the Lake District. None of it had been planned.

Some twenty-seven years later I found myself travelling back along that same road heading north.

St Abbs (twinned with New Asgard)

A last minute booking found a rather nice old coach house near St Abbs, a beautiful Scottish fishing village. Just recently the harbour in St Abbs was seen in the Avengers Endgame movie as New Asgard – Thor’s new home. It looks and feels a lot like visiting a Cornish fishing village, especially if the weather is favourable.

St Abbs is a well-known location to divers. A boat full of divers were heading out as we arrived. Suddenly the alarm went for the lifeboat. Men dashed down to the lifeboat station, the doors opened and the lifeboat was lowered down to the water. Everything became clearer a few minutes later. Another diving boat came into shore at speed and it was only as it got closer that you could see someone on the deck performing CPR. Sadly a diver had got into trouble and had to be taken away by ambulance.

St Abbs may have been in a Hollywood movie but top billing had to go to the weather. Blue skies with occasional clouds floating by made the weekend feel more like August rather than May. The light was just perfect and reminded me of the quality of light you get in Cornwall. I was only away for the weekend but it felt more like five or six days. It’s always good to recharge the old batteries.

Bass Rock

Further up the coast is Bass Rock, a huge domineering piece of rock that was a prison at one point in its history. The photograph of the rock was taken from the impressive Tantallon Castle. It took some time for the ship to get into the frame as it made its way to the port at Leith.

At first, I thought there were small marks were debris on the camera sensor. Only later, when I was viewing the image in Photoshop, did I realise it was hundreds of birds in the air around the rock. The rock is home to over 150,000 gannets as well as shags, guillemots, razorbills and seals.

The lighthouse is built on what remains of a castle but the key role that the rock had during the 16th and 17th century was that of a prison. James I of Scotland sent his political enemies to the rock during the 15th century and later covenanter martyrs were sent there after Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland in the 1650s. These days the only residents are the birds.

Bass Rock - a bird colony, a site for a lighthouse and, in the past, a prison.
Bass Rock – a bird colony, a site for a lighthouse and, in the past, a prison.

By the River Tweed

Berwick Upon Tweed is a town I’ve passed through on the train quite often, but my last actual visit was in 1992. Where do the years go?

The River Tweed runs through the town and the three bridges crossing the river are iconic. The Royal Border Bridge is a very impressive piece of architecture dating from the 1840s. The railway bridge is so well engineered and constructed that very little adjustment has been needed for it to handle the heavier, modern trains. The only repair work required by the bridge took place in the mid-1990s. A nice recent addition (2009) is a lighting system that can illuminate the bridge in a variety of colours.

The photograph at the top of the post was taken along the fantastic riverside path running next to the River Tweed. The viewpoint for photographing the bridge and trains crossing was perfect.

Up and Away

With the weekend over it was back to base. The plan is to have more quick weekend visits to other areas close at hand. Spur of the moment type trips. Lindisfarne, Kielder forest and more Scottish border locations are just a short drive away.

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