Hunting the Milky Way

It's that time of year again, time for my annual blog update and an attempt at starting to blog more.... 

Over the past couple of weeks I've been keeping an eye on the weather with a view to attempting to photograph the Milky Way, spurred on by a recent purchase of a new camera, a Sony A7 full frame mirrorless camera... perhaps that would have made a good blog post too... damn it! Anyhoo, last night was the first clear night and so decided it was time to set out in the dark to try and capture the celestial body that is the Milky Way.

Having looked a light pollution maps there seemed to be some decent areas around Carluke (North Lanarkshire, Scotland) that could work for what I was looking to achieve. The first was Black Law Wind Farm near Climpy but this looked like it was a bit close to surrounding light pollution and might not be ideal, the second was springfield fishery which looked to be in the middle of a dark spot and more ideal. Off to the fishery I went... and after about half an hour of driving and wandering about I left! Top tip folks, go in the daylight first so you know where you need to go cos turns out these dark places are very dark and even with a torch it was difficult to see where I needed to go! Lesson learned.

After realising my stupidity I headed off to plan B, the wind farm. Wandering from the car in to the heart of the wind farm it was clear that there was  going to be too much light pollution in order for this to work out and most likely I was going to return home fruitless and kicking myself for not being more proactive and scoping out the fishery in the day. It was still fairly dark though so there was a glimmer of hope and I remained cautiously optimistic.

After about half a mile of walking I settled on a spot which seemed to offer a good view of the sky as well as nice big wind turbine for a wee bit of foreground interest, checked my sky map app thing and made sure I was facing the right direction and snapping commenced. The initial results from the back of the camera looked quite promising, once I'd realized the really really dark image was because the lens cap was still on, but with that sorted out the results were encouraging. Quick adjustment for the exposure time and the following images were born.

Black Law Wind Farm
Black Law Wind Farm

Not exactly the image I had in my head when I set out but for a first attempt and at a plan B location I'm pretty pleased with the results. Did take one more and from a different angle; with the camera pointed up to the sky and facing away from the light/horizon the results were a bit different...

Milky Way

So in the end I did get some of the Milky Way and overall a pleasing and successful night hunting! Next time I'll be sure to check out locations during daylight hours and hopefully get the image that I came for! Until next time... or next year when I update this blog again!

By Yon Bonnie Banks...

Great day on Monday climbing Ben Lomond for the second time. Set off reasonably early morning, although due to a Christening on the Sunday not as early as planned. With this in mind we headed up the normal route as it was decided that this would be less taxing than the alternative Ptarmigan Ridge - although we did descend down the ridge for something a bit different!

Started off with a little bit of rain but that soon cleared up and the sun was shining and it was shaping up to be clear and glorious views from the summit... then we reached the summit and the cloud closed in, the winds picked up, and worst of all the hail started. The hail lasted for about 15 - 20 minutes and it felt like being hit in the face repeatedly with needles, although I'm only guessing at this as I've never been hit in the face with needles.

Hail aside though it was still a good day, the sun came back out, and there were some smashing views to be had.

Winter Walking - The Grey Mare's Tail

Been a while since I've posted anything, also been a while since I've really picked up a camera, well other than the selfies and other smartphone photography like everyone else these days.

Anyway, decided to try and get back in to walking this year (and taking photos, and maybe blogging), and seeing as it would be nice and wintry, and not too challenging a walk, The Grey Mare's Tail between Moffat and Selkirk was the walk of choice.

There wasn't a whole lot of water coming over the falls at the weekend, however this isn't really all that surprising given that a lot of the stream and almost the entire Loch that feed the falls was frozen. The climb wasn't too bad and the conditions under foot were actually not bad on the ascent, once at the top though the snow got thicker and the temperature got significantly colder compared to the toasty -1.5 degress C at the bottom! It wasn't too long before the weather closed in a little, the small patches of blue sky disappeared and the snow began to fall. The fresh snow made navigating back from Loch Skeen a little bit more tricky as it had started to cover the path that had been trodden, it also made the descent a little bit more slippy but after a few unintentional sit down, we made the bottom with relatively little trouble.

Next trip here I think will be spring for what will hopefully be a more impressive waterfall in full flow, and maybe a little bit of exploring the surrounding hillside on a longer walk.

Caught these two acting the goat!!

Caught these two acting the goat!!


Donna & Keith

Spent yesterday afternoon with the lovely Donna and Keith for a wee photoshoot in Beecraigs Country Park near Bathgate in West Lothian. The shoot was arranged as part of their wedding package for their upcoming wedding in July.

I had been getting a little concerned that we may have to move it or turn it in to a rainy shoot (I had sourced some clear brollies just in case) as I had been keeping an eye on the weather for Friday and it had initially been forecast as sunny (which was good), but as the week went on it changed to raining (not so good), then it was cloudy with sunny intervals (phew), then it was raining again (boo)! In the end the weather turned out not too bad, was a little bit overcast with a cold breeze, although the sun did come out at times, but thankfully the rain stayed away which meant the brolly stayed in the bag!

Onwards now to their wedding in July!

Ben Lomond

On Saturday I decided to venture out and attempt my first Munro, Ben Lomond. Looking at the forecast on the lead up to Saturday and it was looking cold and potential gale force gusts, but come Saturday it was a smashing day and the sun was shining.

The walk up was long, tough at times (due to my lack of fitness), and hot due to the sunshine - also having dressed for the colder temperatures that had been forecast didn't help! In the end I made it up to the summit after 3 hours of huffing and puffing, and it was well worth the trek. I was also glad of the warmer clothes I'd chosen to wear as it felt like the -5 that had been forecast, hat and gloves also made an appearance!

While up there and not too far from the summit, I had a close fly by from a sightseeing plane and almost missed it as I fumbled to get my camera!

Also, as if the walk up didn't seem hard enough a guy had carried his bike up to the summit.

So after a short stay at the top to take in the views, take some snaps, and catch my breath it was time to make the journey back down. I had contemplated going down the alternative route but in the end I opted for going back the way I came and 2 hours 10 mins later with some aching muscles I was back at the car.

Here's some more from the trip, enjoy!

Hawker Tempest

Bought a box of 6 "Real Flying Fighter Planes" that I came across in a gift shop the other day. Used to buy them all the time when I was younger and thought they could make a fun wee photo project.

So here's photo 1 of the 6 planes, the Hawker Tempest. Suspended from the ceiling by black thread, 4 sheets of black card spattered with liquid paper taped to the wall about 2ft behind it, and lit with an off camera flash with an orange gel.

More shall no doubt follow!

Trip to the Isle of Skye

I've finally gotten round to sorting the photos from last weekends trip to Skye. Skye has always been on my list of places I wanted to visit, and it's an experience to visit the island. I don't think I've ever been in a place that's felt as remote and cut off, you're lucky to get a mobile signal never mind any data signal . Was good for a change, although luckily there was some wifi in the hotel (satellite internet)!

The drive up to Skye is good in itself winding through the mountains of Glencoe and Fort William, although it was quite foggy in places. Whilst on Skye we visited the fairy pools which have to be the clearest water I've ever seen, and had to resist the temptation to jump in though as I think I may have ended up with hypothermia! The scenery on Skye itself is quite spectacular, and I could have happily spent all day driving / walking about and just admiring the place. I'll definitely be looking to go back, perhaps in the summer when it's a bit warmer and can jump in the water!

On the way back we stopped off at Eilean Donan Castle. Next to the village of Dornie, and not too far from the Skye bridge, the castle is built on a small island where Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh and meet. The castle is apparently the most photographed castle in Scotland, might even have been Britain. Very picturesque castle!

If you ever get the chance to visit then I would highly recommend it... unless of course you aren't really in to the outdoors!

Argyll Western Hotel

Had a good day on Tuesday shooting each of the 17 rooms, all of which are decorated in a different tartan, in the newly opened Argyll Western Hotel in the west end of Glasgow just off Great Western Road. This is a family run hotel and they also operate another hotel in the west of the city, The Argyll Hotel.

So after 17 rooms, 5 hours of shooting, and the same again (if not slightly longer) sorting through the photos and editing them, they've finally been sent on to the hotel!

Day 2 on Skye

Second day on Skye and had planned on getting up early and maybe catching a few snaps of sunrise but in the end the comfy bed won! 

Went a wee jaunt round the island today, heading for Uig and stopping at places of interest I'd found on a website along the way. Couldn't find a couple of the things on it but the scenery whilst driving about was enough to keep us interested.

Kilt Rock, Skye

Kilt Rock, Skye

Its homeward bound tomorrow but may manage to squeeze a few things in tomorrow morning and on the drive back, but for now it's off to sample some more smashing food! 

Day 1 on Skye

So after setting off at 8am and a four and a half hour drive, a pretty spectacular drive at that, we all arrived at the hotel on Skye - Duisdale House Hotel. Nice hotel and the view isn't too bad either. 


A  quick look at the room, and resisting the temptation to lie down, ditch the stuff and it was back out on to the road and off to the Fairy Pools.


Unfortunately I'll need to wait until I get back and take the photos off my cameras as the photo above doesn't do it justice. The water is crystal clear and the surrounding scenery is fantastic. Anyway here's a couple more taken on the phone.   


Time now for some dinner and drinks before some more exploring tomorrow!

Squarespace Blog

I have now moved my blog from Tumblr to Squarespace, so please excuse the formatting on the posts below, it seems to be a wee bit wonky! 

In to the Mist


Heavy fog and freezing temperatures whilst wandering around Lyme park.

There were still a lot of familes out enjoying the snow that remained in abdundance, despite not much being left in the surrounding areas. Beyond the sledging, and unfortunately I didn’t have a sledge, there wasn’t much else to do other than to take an eerie walk through the foggy woods!

Project 365 Week 5

Week 5 has came and gone, the results of which are below. When I started out I had said that I intended to only use VSCO Cam to edit my photos, however that hasn’t lasted and 3 of the photos below have been edited in Lightroom (waterfall, guitar, and trainers)… ah well, you win some you lose some! :-)

Project 365 Week 2

Week 2 of my photo a day for 365 days.

Struggled a bit with some of these ones, partly due to crappy weather that we’re having, and partly due to a lack of inspiration, so not overly happy but these things happen. Just need to make sure the next lot are better!

Project 365 Week 1

Decided to do a photo a day for 365 days. So far I’ve found it quite difficult to come up with ideas at times for photos so god knows how the rest of the year will go!!

Anyway I’ve decided that rather than uploading a photo each day I’m going to upload them on a weekly basis. Photos are taken either on my iPhone, Fuji X100, or Nikon DSLR, but mainly my iPhone, and all edited using VSCO Cam.

Here’s my first week.