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Photography Books in Development

By |2019-02-27T23:26:14+01:00February 25th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |

It’s been a while since I released a photography book with my first book Sea, Sky, Sand and Street’ coming out way back in 2011. Since then there have been a couple of books in the works about Norfolk and Scotland (and they still remain works in progress!) however, recently I decided that 2019 was going to have a book release. No! Let’s make that two book releases!

Unfortunately, I injured my back at the end of January which has affected my mobility and also been incredibly painful. Fortunately, I’m over the worst and starting to recover, but it will probably take a few more weeks of rest to get to the stage where I can go running my eight-mile route again.

I’ve always like to get something positive out of a bad situation so I’ve decided to create a couple of photography books looking at two recent projects set in Edinburgh. The first book will contain images from ‘The Two Townsproject shot on an iPhone around Edinburgh in November 2015.

The Two Towns photography was pretty raw and improvised but I liked the strong visual style of the images. That project also has fond memories for me as it was the last trip away I had with both my parents. Sadly within just over a year of the images being taken, my mother died from cancer after a tough six month battle with the disease. The Two Towns book will be dedicated to my Mum.

The second book uses the recent colour images of the last couple of years shot in Edinburgh using a regular camera. The photographs have been edited for the book, however, a trip to Edinburgh is planned for late April this year, so a few more images will be shot especially for the book during that visit. I’ll also take another look through the colour images shot in 2015.

The release dates for both books is still to be decided but I’d like book one to be released by June with the second arriving slightly later in the year. The images have been edited and the layouts are largely in place for The Two Towns. The next task is finishing the text that I intend spending some time getting right. I’m intentionally keeping the design of the books very simple.

Both books will contain a maximum of 80 pages with captioning on the left page and the image on the right. A classic photography book style. After a long gap from making books, I don’t want to over complicate the design process. So far I’m pleased with the clean layout designs and how the photography appears on the pages.

The books will available via Blurb in eBook, softcover and hardback editions.

More news and details coming soon.

From the Archive: Veil of Mist

By |2018-11-28T15:02:31+01:00November 28th, 2018|Categories: The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Not so much a black Friday as a grey Saturday for today’s image.

This photo was taken on a misty, rainy and grey Saturday at Eilean Donan Castle in the Highlands of Scotland. Not exactly the usual sort for weather for good photography.  But that was my first atmospheric visit to the iconic Scottish castle back in 2012. The dark weather seemed to add some magic to the occasion.

I was staying in Dornie so was able to walk down to the castle that evening. The rain had follow the car up through most of the Highlands and kept up throughout the evening. Walking down to Eilean Donan castle, there was nobody around apart from a couple of wet and tired backpackers looking for a campsite. Sadly i wasn’t able to help them.

The image was taken on an iPhone with a little bit of tweaking in Snapseed to add some contrast.

The whole Eilean Donan experience really starts at Glen Shiel, some eight or nine miles from Dornie. The mountains tower above the road as the road heads towards Dornie and the castle. The A87 route itself follows an old military road built by General Wade in the early part of the 18th century to create better access to the Highlands for the Army to maintain order.

 The A87 road, surely one of the best roads in Britain, had wound its way alongside Loch Duich with a veil of rainy mist gradually falling back. As the car travelled around a bend, the castle suddenly appeared through the mist. It was a timeless moment that felt like a scene from a movie. A perfect introduction enhanced by the poor but atmospheric weather. Just a shame i didn’t have a dash cam!


Eilean Donan featured in BBC TV identity slot from 1997 -2002

Eilean Donan ranks among my favourite places. It has a tranquillity about it along with a rich history – although the castle is not quite as old as it first appears. Over the years the iconic castle has been in a number of films including James Bond – The World is Not Enough and, one of my favourite films, Highlander. It was probably the castle’s scenes in Highlander that made me want to visit Eilean Donan. For a number of years the castle also featured in a BBC TV identity slot from 1997 -2002.

From the Archive: The Climbing Photographer

By |2018-08-17T22:03:38+01:00August 17th, 2018|Categories: The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

A man climbing on a gate and fence to photograph two highland cows  at Trossachs Wollen Mill, Kilmahog near Callander in Perthshire, Scotland

After the rather serious tone of last month’s archive post, i thought this month would have a little photo humour from 2013. The photograph, shot using an iPhone 3GS, is of an over keen photographer trying to get a clear shot of Hamish the Highland Bull. His discarded walking stick rests against the fence.

This photo was taken at the Trossachs Wollen Mill in Kilmahog near Callander, Perthshire during a trip up to the Highlands of Scotland in September 2013. The rather adventurous photographer was part of a coach tour and had decided that a bit of elevation was needed to get a good shot of Hamish the Highland bull. It took him a few, rather unsteady attempts, to finally get himself in place but he eventually got his photos. The advantages of climbing up didn’t actually appear that great to me.

The town of Callander is worth mentioning. The small Scottish town is on the eastern gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and on the edge of the Highlands. Callander is often referred to as ‘the gateway to the Highlands’. As such it’s a popular town, busy with tourists either visiting Callander or making their way to the Highlands. I stayed overnight in 2014 and had an enjoyable but brief explore down by the River Teith. After Callander, you start the atmospheric climb up into the mountains of the Highlands.

A group of people looking at a Highland cow at Trossachs Wollen Mill, Kilmahog near Callander in Perthshire, Scotland
Not Hamish! A Highland cow with fans – Trossach Wollen Mill at Kilmahog, Scotland

A mile up the road from Callander,  the Trossachs Wollen Mill provides another welcome rest stop oasis for the weary traveller. Whether heading to or coming back from the Highlands, it’s used by coach tours, cars and bikers alike. It’s perfectly placed as a stop to stretch the legs, get some food and plan the next part of your journey. The Woollon Mill features a very busy restaurant and excellent gift shop packed full of Scottish souvenirs. The headline act, however, has to be the very popular, hairy and iconic highland cattle.

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Hamish the Highland cow

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Hamish the Highland bull was undoubtedly the star and most likely, the most photographed bull on the planet! He’d even pose for you! Seeing coach tours of people trying to photograph the superstar bull was funny, if slightly surreal experience. The lengths that people would go to always surprised me – the climbing photographer being a good example! When you think about it, there must be thousands of photographs of Hamish all over the world!

Sadly Hamish died in 2014 at the very grand age of almost 23. He was, apparently, the oldest bull in the UK and the second oldest in the world. The average lifespan is around 14 years. The Trossachs Wollen Mill’s other Highland cattle, Honey and Hamish Dubh, a black Highland Bull, carry on the good work.

From the Archive: Mountain Rain

By |2018-05-19T13:41:35+01:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Blog, The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Rain over highlands mountains near Bridge of Orchy, Scotland

Photographs are sometimes be a bit elusive. I’d seen this wonderful range of mountains near Bridge of Orchy on previous journeys up to the Highlands of Scotland but the dilemma faced was always the same – where to park! The sheer numbers of people who would stop at the Loch Tulla viewpoint, combined with the size of a car and even the time of day would foil any photography plans on more than one occasion.

One year, arriving at the location the light was just gorgeous. The mountains were bathed in a warm, golden glow with shadows gliding over the mountainside as clouds passed over. Had i been on a motorbike then i’d have probably been able to pull off safely, but in a car there was just no room to get off the road. You win some, and you lose some.

This photograph was taken around mid morning during very changeable weather. The early arrival (stayed locally for the night) helped with finding a car park space, probably also empty due to the rain and wind blowing across the mountains, and just waited for the right moment. The photograph was taken just as another squall of rain crossed the mountain side, lit by a break in the cloud.  The volatile nature of the mountain weather comes across nicely with the light and dark tones of the photo.

This is one of my favourite photographs, a larger print is just above my desk. I love the tone and feel of the picture. I love the mountains too.

The camera was a NIkon D300S fitted with a Nikkor 55mm lens.

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