Mull of Galloway: The Lighthouse

By |2021-10-13T13:42:13+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. Film and TV production 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 the lighthouse and a variety of locations around the Mull and Rhins of Galloway to create a remote Hebridean location.

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 and was activated in 1830. Built in 1830 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 type of lighthouses engineered by the Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson. 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 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 but during the editing process, it became clear that the colour imagery wasn’t delivering the strong images I’d wanted. 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 necessary 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.

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 from the darkroom. I think the use of the copper toner 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.

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 creating wonderful dramatic panoramas. However the image I’d choose as my favourite caught one of the many scenes of shipping 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 many ships 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

The scope of photography is huge

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 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, 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.

Lighthouse Prints available at RedBubble

By |2021-05-19T11:46:24+01:00May 19th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse flashing its warning – May 2021

A new gallery has been added to the Redbubble shop containing a selection of new lighthouse images taken while staying at the Mull of Galloway lighthouse. New images are being added on a regular basis that can be purchased as wall art, mobile phone cases, and more. Check out the website at richflintphoto.redbubble.com

The Lighthouse

The construction of Mull of Galloway lighthouse was started in 1828 with the lighthouse coming into operation two years later in 1830. The design of the lighthouse remained pretty much a standard for all lighthouses constructed throughout Scotland. In 1986 the lighthouse was finally automated and the lighthouse keepers left the Mull.

The lighthouse itself is still owned and maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board but the remaining buildings are owned by the Mull of Galloway community trust,

Lighthouse Photographs

A number of images of the lighthouse are available to purchase but the two night shots of the light flashing are favourites of mine. It was a photograph i wanted to get of the light flashing it warning – after all its what the lighthouse is for!

The two photographs were taken on different nights. Fortunately, the weather remained very good with no rain, however, the wind proved to be a slight challenge. Cold gusts of wind vibrated the tripod and camera making the exposures challenging. I am pleased with the resulting photographs. The darker, more moody lighthouse image has a cinematic feel to it whereas the lighter, less dramatic image has a closer view of the lighthouse with the cold blue of the night sky.

Lighthouse Prints

Several prints are available featuring the lighthouse with the gallery being updated to include new images. There is also a lighthouse gallery featuring images of lighthouses from a variety of locations around England and Scotland including Neist Point, Islay, and Scarborough.

The prints featuring the Mull of Galloway lighthouse can be found at 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.

The Glencoe Path

By |2020-05-04T16:21:59+01:00May 4th, 2020|Categories: Blog, The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

looking down Glencoe, Highlands of Scotland
Glencoe, 2015

The importance of staying at home is critical during this COVID-19 situation. You can’t help but think that mother nature has got a slightly cruel sense of humour though. Often Spring in the UK can be cold, wet and rather horrible, but at a time when we all have to stay in, it has so far been wonderfully bright and warm. So be it. Maybe the bright days are better than grey depressing ones during this pandemic. The outdoors can come to me,

Recent events have given me a little time to have a think about my favourite locations and the photographs produced during visits over the past few years. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of my favourite landscape images. I’ll delve into the roots of the photograph, how it was taken and the why the location appealed so much.

The Planned Picture

The A82 curves through Glencoe, Highlands of Scotland
Glencoe photographed in 2014

I start with my 2015 photograph of Glencoe, a landscape image that I’d wanted to make for a long time. Driving along the A82, that runs through Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland for the first time in 2012, the scenery quite literally blew me away. It’s probably one of the best roads to drive in the UK and the mountain scenery is just stunning.

I really needed a good location for the photograph and some decent weather. Finding the place to shoot the image was relatively easy to find. I eventually came across the location by accident while stretching my legs after a long drive. The weather was always going to be the deciding factor.

Watching the patches of light and darkness quickly dancing across the mountains as the shadows from clouds wept over the mountain tops was just magical. Almost spiritual. I felt at home amongst those mountains. All I needed to do was to do some justice to the landscape with a camera.

Mention Glencoe and the story of the massacre soon comes into the conversation. Over the years the story of billeted British troops killing their hosts the MacDonalds in 1692 have equally horrified and fascinated people. History and myth can, however, become entwined so tightly that fact and fiction start to blur. Part of the fun of reading Scottish history is trying to untangle the actual history from myth. Glencoe continues to feed the imagination of visitors and the massacre just adds to the atmosphere.

An excellent overview of the events can be found via the BBC’s ‘In Our Time’ podcast from 2010 where the massacre was discussed in some detail by a panel of historians. The podcast can be downloaded at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pxrr7

Along the Path

The path seen in the photograph heads up the side of the mountain and is a route I’d like to explore further in future. I liked the idea of having some depth to the image and the pathway was perfect. The viewer feels like they are on the path, walking the route. It also guides the viewer through the picture.

The path is located not far from the main Glencoe ‘viewpoint’ car park but doesn’t seem to attract the anywhere near the numbers of people you’d expect. The reason may be the walk involved rather than getting the easy view from a car. In previous years the visit to Glencoe was just a brief rest stop on the way to Skye so my time was limited as I needed to carry on driving for a further two or three hours.

In 2015 I was staying just down the road for a night in an effort to break the journey up to Skye. I’d found that driving the whole distance up to Skye from Newcastle was perfectly doable but you ended up being worn out for the first couple of days after arrival. An overnight stay along the route made all the difference!

A Gap in the Clouds

The weather was always going to be a factor for getting the photograph. Ironically the day the image was taken the weather on the journey up through the highlands was very wet and dull. The chance to photograph Glencoe looked highly unlikely. However, while crossing Rannoch Moor things initially looked bleak but then started to brighten upl. A gap in the clouds suddenly appeared, the rain stopped and by the time the car had reached the parking place the day was significantly brighter.

iPhone cover available from RedBubble

The picture didn’t need blue skies and fluffy clouds, in fact, I prefer the more dramatic sweep of clouds. There is still a threat of rain in those clouds. A hint of menace. Maybe some of that Glencoe appeal comes from the sense of menace in the landscape. The massacre history just adds an extra layer to that dramatic landscape. There is also an impression that not much has changed in the landscape as the years have gone by. The place is almost timeless – once you get away from the road. Sometimes you do expect to see a party of Redcoats come along the mountain path pursuing MacDonalds through the Glen.

The Glencoe Print

There have been two versions of the print. The current version is a brighter image with better colour saturation than the first print. While the first print did look great, I came to realise that the image was too subdued. It was also too dark in tone. The lush green landscape of Glencoe was being stifled.

One surprising success for the photo is as a phone case. Many people seem to love the depth to the image and the central area of the photograph fitting in neatly on the back of an iPhone or Android phone case. For phone and iPad cases and 63 other Glencoe items including t-shirts, mugs, postcards, throw pillows and framed prints CLICK HERE

Check out the RedBubble store for more prints and items at https://www.redbubble.com/people/richflintphoto/shop

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