Perhaps it’s a sign of the times when one goes in search of snowy landscapes for future Christmas cards only for there to be no snow; that has certainly been the story of this winter. A lack of frost to reduce the ground temperature meant that any snow vanished as swiftly as it arrived. I appreciate that might be welcome news to most people but, alas, frustrating for a nature photographer.
A trip to Fort William in search of snowy mountain peaks was met with disappointment. I never saw the hill tops as low cloud consumed them. A desperate journey to Appin to investigate Castle Stalker fared no better as drizzle plagued attempts at a picture. There was no change the next morning and Glen Etive attracted grey, featureless skies and constant drizzle. The forecasts showed no change for the west, yet the east of the country was basking in cool sunshine so I cut my losses and returned to Edinburgh.
The next couple of days were spent photographing on the Water of Leith. A pair of dippers were very active finding material for their nest in the crevice of a bridge. I love these birds as they dive beneath the water hunting for food to eat and weed to line the nest. It was also a challenge using a slow shutter speed to soften the water movement while retaining a sharp image of the bird; the key was in trying to capture that fleeting moment of stillness immediately after the dipper completes its ‘bob.’
I also visited another part of the river I know well and where I can often find goosanders. This stretch of deeper water flows very gently allowing reflections to shimmer on the water’s surface and to provide an abstract environment to place the bird in. I am particularly fond of this “animal in its environment” style of image as it combines the principles of both wildlife and abstract photography.
Business took me to the Cairngorms last month and I managed to squeeze in a swift visit to another of my favourite haunts - the River Tromie. Searching for something different, I found a shallow gully of stones to focus on and lead the eye towards cascading white water (see image).
But we’re now into spring - shrubs are budding, the blossom is blooming and wild flowers are flourishing; the countryside is regaining its colour...