Aviemore’s Atmosphere and a General Update

Welcome, and to everyone who has been here before, welcome back!

I have to say, it has been an irrationally long time since I last put a blog up here. There has been a lot of crazy stuff going on.

So what’s new? Well, I’m going back to Madagascar in 10 days (more on that later). That has caused most of the stress, and is really the reason I haven’t blogged since January. We have been sorting out the logistics, getting the project together, and trying to get our heads around the expedition. On top of that, I’ve also been at Uni, so that’s been consuming the rest of my life. All this to say my camera has scarcely seen the light of day since I last blogged.

That’s not entirely true, as I imagine you gather from the title of this blog. I went up to Aviemore in northern Scotland with Edinburgh University PhotoSoc and did quite a lot of photography up there. This is the first of three (possibly four) blogs about that trip. I might employ the clever skills of WordPress and write all the blogs today, and get them to publish a few days apart. We will see.


Lichen on a tree stump

D300 + 14-24mm @ 24mm 1/250s f/3.2

This first shot was really just for fun. The stumps are completely covered in lichen and mosses, and I thought I would test the 14-24 on them. Beautiful I think. Busy, but fun. Not the sort of shot you would get out of a macro lens. This trip was meant to work on a few things. Specifically, I wanted to test my own creativity with things that I don’t usually shoot. I wanted to capture the thick atmosphere, and the feeling of the forest, while at the same time grabbing a bit of emotion and depth in the shots.

A tree stump in a carpet of moss

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/200s f/2.8

Scots pine forest

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/25s f/8

I actually had a lot of fun shooting the forests. I treated them like you would a herd of cattle or a flock of birds; I singled out the interesting one, and framed around it, isolating with a shallow depth of field, but not completely obscuring nearby features. The tripod was a must, as the light in the forest was dim, and shutter speeds were low at times.

Lichen covered trees in Aviemore

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/30s f/2.8

I also shot with a very warm whitebalance (manually set to 6250K). This brings out the vibrance of the tree bark, but is not so warm that the bluish white of the lichen appears yellow.

Moss covered tree

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/20s f/7.1

Spotting patterns in the trees also made for some fun times, though only one of the resulting photos is any good, and I still can’t decide if I like it or not:

Scots Pine

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/50s f/8

I also played with a bit of macro abstract stuff. I don’t really know what I think about these. They are probably too warm. Tut.

Miniature scots pine

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/800s f/2.8


D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/50s f/4.5

And finally in this mini series, I found a bank of reeds and shot it for a while. Again, only one good shot to show for it. But it was fun to try to work the shutter speeds for just the right amount of blur in the water.

bank of reeds drooping into the water

D300 + 300mm VR + TC-14E @ 1/3s f/20

And that ends the Aviemore section of this post. It is a really magical place, and camping out in it all made the adventure just that much better. We were up super early every morning to get out and get shots. More on all of that in the next post!


So, going back to Madagascar! I guess I’ll give you a bit of an overview on the trip: myself and a team of three other people are going out to do research in a newly protected area of southern Madagascar. I am leading the expedition, and conducting research on the effects of deforestation and habitat exploitation on reptile diversity and community structure; Matthew, an old friend of mine, is studying the population status of the critically endangered Radiated Tortoise; we both have a student each to help out with our studies, and on top of that we have a third student studying the plants of our study sites; Natalie and Justine are the team’s anthropologists, and are creating a documentary and a written report of their observations of both the people and the way in which we interact with them.

Our destination.

The expedition is going to be 2 months long, six weeks of which will be spent in the field doing the research. When we get back, we have to deliver lots of talks to all of the granting bodies, and disseminate the project report as far as possible. So when we get back, we will really have our work cut out for us. But I will certainly generate some EPIC photos. I have purchased a 32gb Lexar card, 2 additional batteries for my camera, and I am even bringing my 300mm VR with me. I might purchase a 2x teleconverter too.

So yes, that is very exciting. It means I won’t be blogging again for a long time after this Aviemore series. But when I get back, I will make serious changes, and also be changing the home of this blog. But more to come on that in a few months. =D

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