Having mentioned to some friends that Scottie and I are heading for the isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides of Scotland for a week in a camper van, the laughter that followed was of course expected (but not by me). Isle of Lewis, in November, are you out of your mind? The island is right at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and the weather at this time of year can be... well, nasty, especially for landscape photography, they said.
Anyway, while there and on almost complete isolation (the island is sporadically populated), we had the freedom of travelling wherever we wanted and staying overnight wherever we decided to. Basically, there was no one around to stop us from doing so.
The days were going by and I must admit that we were happy with the weather conditions, we had some beautiful light during our stay there until... that day. The forecast was for gale force winds from the west and indeed they were right. As one would understand, there was no place on the island to do any landscape shooting. So, maps came out and we tried to locate a possible area that would be sheltered from the wind.
We had planned to go to a place called Aird Uig but at a later date. There was a small bay there facing North/East with more than 30 metre cliffs behind it. The decision was made very quickly as it did seem like the best (and only) solution at the time. After all, we would go there, scout the area, have lunch and if sheltered indeed, we would content ourselves with some close up photography.
You can't really see the bay from the road but after a short and slightly steep descent, we realised that there was potential for a variety of things there. We had lunch and started exploring the possibilities. Large and colourful pebbles combined with sea stacks and facing North/East? Perfect for a sunrise during summer. However, the problem was what do we do now, today, early November. Yes, of course we were sheltered by the wind but the sea was rough, the sky heavy with clouds and no colour anywhere, a typical winter’s day.
After a bit of consideration and thinking, we decided that the only way to produce a decent image would be to harness nature - slow down motion and create an environment that didn't really exist. With the use of filters, we managed to get the exposure down to 12 sec and with very careful composition, focusing and metering, the results were very surprising. Out of nowhere, I managed to make an image that has become one of my favourites of all time and a lot of people who comment on it agree.
The moral of the story? Don't just walk away from a scene because the weather is not favourable, think of alternatives, improvise and use your creativity. You will be amazed with the results.