20 February 2020 (Photographing Scotland)

This week we had the pleasure of welcoming Scottish landscape photographer Dougie Cunningham, author of the popular guidebook “Photographing Scotland“. Dougie began by telling us how he started in photography, which grew out of his love for the outdoors and the satisfaction of capturing those defining moments in life. He shot wedding photographs for friends and worked on photo-shoots for outdoor clothing manufacturers. His full biography can be found on his website, “leading lines”:

https://www.leadinglines.net/bio

Dougie then described how his love for landscape photography turned into a contract to write a guidebook for photographers wanting to capture the best Scotland had to offer.  The book was divided into chapters covering different parts of Scotland. Compiling each chapter became an adventure in itself. Some chapters were completed quickly and some chapters needed many repeated visits to the same location until the weather finally allowed Dougie to capture the shots he wanted. Dougie toured Scotland in a small camper van, which allowed him to sleep in remote locations and wait for the sunrise.  A typical pattern was to capture sunrise and sunset, then drive to the next location and wait for the next sunrise. He would often climb to the top of a mountain and sleep in a tent at the top, hoping to capture a striking sunrise shot from the summit, only to wake in the morning after an uncomfortable night to the sound of horizontal rain lashing against the side of his tent. But Dougie learned during the project to make use of every opportunity; not to let tiredness put you off when the light is right, and not to let waking up to bad weather put you off. On some occasions the weather had cleared enough by the time Dougie set up his equipment to capture an atmospheric post-storm mountain sunrise. He found the project itself gave him the inspiration to keep going. In landscape photography it helps to give yourself a goal.  Members were transfixed for an hour and a half, when Dougie showed one spectacular Scottish landscape image after another.  Some of these images can be seen in Dougie’s flickr collection:

https://www.flickr.com/people/oldnotbold/

Dougie described some of his photography techniques. He tries to capture scenery as you would find it, so his photographs are not digitally manipulated (apart from graduated filters and tone corrections). If a lamp post happens to be in an inconvenient place, so be it. But this rule helps Dougie think about the composition of his images, capturing iconic landmarks from unusual angles to avoid the distractions. Dougie encouraged photographers to find new ways of capturing popular scenes. It is understandable for a someone visiting a place for their one and only time to play safe and capture the usual postcard shot, but if you have a chance to visit more than once it pays to experiment and find a new view unique to yourself.  Dougie’s book can be found in most bookshops, such as those below:

Amazon;  W H Smith; Waterstones;  Blackwells

Now we just need to save up and buy that camper van…

 

 

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