I've just come down from the Isle of Skye

For as long as I have owned a camera and had an interest in landscape photography 2 places have really stuck in my mind for wanting to visit: Iceland and the Isle of Skye. Last week I got to tick one of them off the list - the Isle of Skye.

It was a family holiday and not purely a photographic trip that saw me cross the Skye Bridge but Mrs W was under no illusions that the camera would be coming with us and it wouldn’t be going away very often!

We stayed on the beautiful and often overlooked Sleat Peninsula (basically turn left when you get to the other end of the bridge and drive South) in a remote little village called Tarskavaig. The views were stunning. The Cuillins (the mountain range that dominates the Isle) were just over the sea and we had lovely coast line and rural views all around.

View Over Tarskavaig towards the Cuillins

The first day of our holiday was committed to finding our way around the island and having a little explore and I inadvertently (yeah right!) came across Sligachan. This place very quickly became my favourite place on the island and if you ever drive to the Trotternish peninsula you go straight past it so it is a well seen, and well photographed place.

The Cuillins from underneath Sligachan Bridge

Over the next few days we travelled around Skye and investigated here and there. Elgol and the Fairy Pools were two places on my list however disaster struck at the Fairy Pools …. I forgot my camera! Over an hour from our holiday home, and with no time to return that day the walk down to the Fairy Pools did no t end with a photo. Even now, a week or so after it happened I am not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand I was disappointed but on the other hand…. the Fairy Pools didn’t feel right to me. It was so busy and it felt a bit like a conveyor belt, tourist after tourist, photographer and photographer taking it in turns to put the camera in the same place and take the same photo. Now of course, had I have had my camera I would have been one of those photographers but I do question whether that is right or not. Of course, we have all photographed very famous places but usually there is scope to make the shot unique (possibly Ashness Bridge aside) but it didn’t feel like that here.

Elgol on the other hand didn’t disappoint. It is quite a trek to get down there and as such, on both occasions I was there I had the beach to myself. Both days I went were very different; the first day you could barely see the Cuillins and the sea was stormy; the second day was calmer with a hint of blue sky. Surely there cannot be many better views in the whole of Scotland though? Fantastic! If I could only pick one location to visit again on Skye it would be Elgol (and the primary school that is 2 foot from the beach - how lucky are the kids who go to school there?!)

Elgol on a moody day

The Cuillins from Elgol

No trip to Skye would be complete without hopping back across to the mainland to photograph a little known castle (ok that was a lie) - Eilean Donan. Surely the most famous and photographed castle in Scotland, if not the world. Again, like the Fairy Pools, this was the sort of place that was teeming with photographers pretty much all lined up to take the classic reflection shot from the South side of the car park. I tried to be a bit more imaginative and came up with a couple of images that are slightly different from the norm (by no means unique!)

Eilean Donan long exposure

The Castle from the north side of the bridge

Incredibly, it was on the last night of our holiday that I had the most fun with the camera. Not a famous photograph location in site. Just a trundle down to Tarskavaig Beach to await a sunset that didn’t really materialise. What did materialise though was a storm - high winds, sunset and high tide all coincided to give incredible, but challenging, photographic conditions. Armed with a camera each, my and Mrs W snapped away. Conditions were so perfect that you couldn’t miss. Photo after photo looked amazing on the back of the camera. It was reflecting on this at the end of the trip that made me realise something. Landscape photography is supposed to be fun. It is supposed to be challenging. Unpredictable. Crazy. Unplanned. By travelling to specific locations every time we head out with the camera, with a pre ordained shot in mind, in my opinion we diminish the draw of landscape photography. By no means am I saying don’t do the famous stuff - in fact I would argue the opposite all day long. I am just saying don’t forget the other stuff.

A stormy Tarskavaig Beach at sunset

A stormy Tarskavaig Beach at sunset with waves crashing on the rocks

Thank you again for reading - for more information about any of these images, workshops, prints and more please get in touch.

All of the images are available to buy as prints and will be available in my online store soon.

Matt Ward