Scotland : The Wild Places

At the end of a long single-track road on Skye is a tiny fishing village called Elgol and a small beach where every landscape photographer in Britain—and these days they are legion—will, it seems, eventually stand. I’ve done it myself. Twice.

Usually taken at sunset or dusk, the view from the beach across Loch Scavaig towards the Black Cuillin has become a rite of passage, a trophy image. Largely made famous by Joe Cornish (whose unique interpretation graces the cover of his excellent book First Light) this shot is often something of a “landscape photographer’s” view of the Cuillin. The peaks that are known, loved and feared amongst Munro climbers are relegated to the skyline where they often appear tellingly distant.

I’ve been moping about the house with the flu for the past week and yesterday I picked up Colin Prior’s Scotland The Wild Places that has been sat on a bookshelf of mine for probably a couple of years now. I’d always wanted to read it but somehow hadn’t got around to it.

The panoramic format works really well here and I found myself drawn deep into the landscapes. Colin has gone to incredible lengths to capture them in the right conditions and the often low-angled light renders everything in amazing detail. Often named according to the prominent peaks in the frame, they tap into a deeper appreciation of mountains, one that transcends aesthetics and captures some of their unique characters. It is revealing that Colin’s photographs are often sold as posters in outdoor shops.

Landscape photographers can often wax lyrical about their deep connection with nature but rarely does that come across in their images as clearly as it does here. It is refreshing to see a celebration of mountains not just for their aesthetic potential, but as things in their own right.