Ardvreck Castle, Loch Assynt, Scotland

Do you take risks when you make decisions on composition, exposure and various other techniques? Are you brave enough to bear the results regardless of them being good or bad?

I used to go for a photo shoot with one thing in mind, a perfect sunrise or sunset; but not anymore. The reason for this is Scotland’s unpredictable weather, which to be honest has taught me quite a few things. Scotland’s ‘bad weather’, as some call it, was a blessing for me, as it made me realise that landscape photographs can be taken in almost any kind of weather and any kind of light.

The result now is that I head out with one thing in mind, to make images. I accept whatever kind of light nature offers at any given time and do everything in my power to capture it in the best way possible.

On this occasion, Ardvreck Castle was next on my list. When I arrived on location in mid-afternoon, the weather was extremely ‘moody’, to say the least. The heavy cloud cover looked as though it would stay above me for the rest of the day. I walked around the location for almost an hour, trying to find various angles and to familiarise myself with the subject. I found a variety of angles and viewpoints that would suit the subject perfectly under various light conditions. However, as the conditions were very ‘moody’, I decided to go for a simple composition, including the castle with its reflection and the Quinag mountain covering the top right corner of the frame.

There was no definition in the clouds and the water surface was not inspiring. I opted for a long exposure to smooth out any rough surfaces. This would allow me to showcase the tranquil and more artistic side of the landscape, the one we can see when we use our imagination.

After finishing with all technicalities, it was time to make the image. There was a tiny gap in the clouds in the west and this made me believe that the unexpected might happen. I made one exposure and was happy with the results, but decided to wait in case my prediction materialised, which it did.

After about thirty minutes, the gap in the clouds was getting larger and it seemed that the sun might appear for a minute or two. My exposure was set for two minutes, but, I did not want the sun scorching the scene for the entire exposure time as it would spoil the mood and look of the image. I took the risk to start exposing the scene before the sun appeared. Around 90 seconds later it did, and bathed the castle with the most extraordinary light I have ever seen. The camera continued to record that superb light for another 30 seconds. Luck favours the brave I suppose.

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