Glen Coe & Ullapool field trips

Please note words such a Spectacular and Juxtaposition where the first letter is capitalised indicates it is a word whose use I have specifically defined elsewhere in my researches.

In late October I had a total of 10 days photography, first leading a group of photographers on a holiday around Glen Coe and Ardgour, then with friends around Ullapool. Both trips were focused on general landscape photography rather than my usual subject, “human constructs in the landscape”.

Weather conditions and the autumnal colours resulted in many more Spectacular images than I would usually make. These encouraged me to be more adventurous in my subject matter and my approach to the lighting. Another significant factor for the changes was the new knowledge that ~75% of my Successful images are driven far more by Shapes and the Juxtaposition of shapes than any other factor. Formerly I had believed the narrative potential implicit in the Juxtapositions of human constructs and the landscape was always the primary driver.

Fallen Pines

The 2 factors initiating this image were the Spectacular light (colours) and the straight lines of the fallen trunks forming triangles against the vertical, parallel trunks behind. In other words, geometry.

So, this image has Juxtaposition (leading to a Conscious Design) and Spectacle (Colours) as the triggers for its making.

It is a plantation of trees, hence a human construct, but it would be over-stretching my concept to suggest that was in a factor in my making of this image. It was not!

Autumn Glade

Again, the Spectacular colours were a trigger for this imager as they beckon the viewer into the scene. There is also strong Narrative potential with the narrow path formed by the trees leading towards a darker, unknowable destination. This effect is enhanced by the fallen truck appearing to block access and the branch above framing the entrance.

These contradictory factors led me into Recognizing a “Little Red Riding Hood” type of Narrative where the colours encourage adventure, but the narrowing, darker, overhung path does not. The image was Consciously Designed to enhance these effects.

There is no obvious human construct in this image. Any human connotations are created by the imagination and do not exist in reality.


Again, no human construct but the stark shapes are geometric, especially when emphasised by the reflections.

The calm water, soft light and the (almost Oriental) simplicity of the composition create an ambiance that reflected my own zen mood at the time of taking.

A friend, Muriel Robertson, compares this image to written characters, again, perhaps, Oriental.

This was a Conscious Design based upon the Juxtaposition of Shapes and reflections.

Lochailort junction

Shapes and Colours drove this piece of Conscious Design. The inclusion of Armco barrier and the bushes was an after-thought designed to give scale and to indicate that this is not a natural cliff but is actually a roadside cutting.

This is an unusual case of my conscious compositional enhancements having a very positive impact on the success of the final image. Without these extra elements there is no context and the image becomes little more than a pattern picture.

Glen Etive

This image is purely driven by Spectacle. It is all about the dramatic lighting, colours and composition. There is a human construct present, the road, but it does not create any significant Narrative Potential as there is very little ambiguity in the scene. It is a Successful document of a moment, however the image has little long-term interest for me.

Connel Bridge viewpoint.

This final image was taken on a day where the light was flat and the autumnal colours quite weak. Consequently, I reverted to type and looked for the humour in the Juxtapositions of human constructs and the natural landscape.


  1. Human constructs contain geometric shapes that attract attention and have narrative potential when set against the landscape. However, tree trunks, especially those of pine trees, and reeds in water can also form geometric shapes that attract, even although they may not encourage a narrative.
  2. Banality, like Narrative has been a constant presence in my images to-date. However, in this set of images there is no banality when the human construct is missing or only appears in the imagination. That is, the first 3 images.
  3. I don’t see these images as a change of direction but as an expansion of my willingness to experiment as I learn more about my practice and motivations.

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