Jared with a very big lens
Jared Earle, Oban, Nov 2008

A while back I got introduced to the wonderful world of HDR by my good friend Jared Earle, seen here with a very big lens, and I stated at the time that I'd have a play when I got a chance. It took a while but I finally got that chance last week.

Boat at Bowling
Red boat, Bowling on the River Clyde, Nov 2008

I had a week off and decided to go up to Glasgow to stay with Jared for a few days. After I'd survived the 6 hour drive from Surrey, eaten some fantastic grub (thanks Vic) and slept like a log for a while we headed north into the Highlands.

On the way we passed the location where Jared had taken the HDR shot he used in the tutorial on his website so we stopped to have a gander. What a great location for HDR!!

Boat at Bowling
Rusty boats, Bowling on the River Clyde, Nov 2008

Rusty boats with the River Clyde in the background, a photographer couldn't ask for any more than a dramatic sky to complete the picture. Unfortunately on this particular occasion the sky was pretty overcast and not a great subject, but that didn't stop either of us coming away with some great shots.

From Bowling we continued our journey north until we came to Loch Lomand. We gradually worked our way around it stopping a few time to get different views of the magnificent scenery, but unfortunately Nessie was nowhere to be seen.

One of my goals for this trip was to have a go at creating panoramas, and this seemed to be a great location to have a first try. The result is below. Unfortunately on close inspection it's slightly out of focus, but I'm generally happy with the result. The weather was particularly good to us given the time of year, and I love the few clouds I managed to capture on the right with the rest of the sky being clear blue. I'll definitely be trying more of these.


Loch Lomond, Nov 2008

After spending quite a bit of time at the Loch we continued on our journey looking for interesting landscapes. Our next stop was at a time of the day when the sun was descending beyond one side of the pass. I can't remember what it was called (can you remember Jared?), but the conditions created the fantastic light quality captured below.

A pass with amazing light quality
??, Nov 2008

At this point the sun was quickly disappearing and we had planned to get over to Oban which is a fishing village just over an hours drive from Loch Lomond, so we jumped back into the car and hit the road again.

Oban
Oban, Nov 2008

We arrived in Oban just as the sun was dipping over the horizon - I don't think we could have planned it any better!

Sunset at Oban
Oban, Nov 2008

Like Bowling, Oban is ideally suited to HDR, especially at that time of day. All photographers know that the rising and setting of the sun creates the best light in which to take atmospheric photographs, but combine that with a harbour containing colourful boats, a clear blue sky and gentle waves and you have an ideal combination of conditions for capturing the naturally high dynamic range of tones and colours all around you.

We had great fun in Oban, including replacing my crappy tripod with something up to the task of being used by someone taller than 4ft!! The best and worst thing about the setting sun is that it creates a constantly changing environment. Take your eye off the scene for a few seconds and that perfect shot you saw could be gone by the time you look back.

I know that what I saw last week while up in the Highlands was a very small part of what's there, but I really want to go back at other times of the year to see how the landscape changes and to develop my photographic techniques. Hopefully you'll agree that I'm making progress. These are definitely some of the best captures I've achieved so far.

Bye bye sun
Bye bye sun, Oban, Nov 2008

Parts 2 and 3 of my holiday write-up are coming soon when I get a chance to finish processing my photographs from the rest of last week. In the meantime please take the time to leave comments - all feedback is useful, good and bad.

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