The Trotternish Ridge first made its mark on my psyche many, many years ago when I read about it in a mountaineering magazine. I think that it was a combination of surreal views and surreal names of its various rock features that caught my imagination. Names such as The Needle and The Prison in the Quiraing area (a fantastic, almost other-worldly, imagination-inspiring landscape of rock formations near the northern end of the ridge) and the Old Man of Storr in the south.
As well as being a surreal place it must not be forgotten that it is also a relatively remote and rugged area, being tucked away on the northern half of the Isle of Skye. Something that I became fully aware of after reading about a couple that set off to traverse the complete ridge, only to disappear in bad weather. * When the opportunity came along for me to visit this ridge with a camera in my hand, there was no way that I was going to turn it down.
After following the usual landscape photographers’ ritual of getting up while it is still dark and heading out while still partially asleep, I was on location before sunrise. A bank of thick cloud on the eastern horizon meant that very little sunrise could be seen (i.e. none), but I was there so I was going to take some photographs regardless of the conditions. And I did. And I kept on shooting until my perseverance was rewarded with beams of light squeezing though breaking clouds. I took a series of shots of each of my compositions set for different exposure, simply so that I could render a little more detail in my final, manually-merged picture. An alternative approach would have been to use graduated neutral density filters, but I didn’t have any with me.
Of the final results there are two that I particularly like. One that I processed from raw files that reminds me of the sense of surrealism that I felt. The other, also processed from raw files, to capture the sense of drama that I felt. This one has been worked up as a black and white photograph as I found colour to be too distracting in this instance.
To have come away with only a few photographs that I thought to be worth keeping, after such a long wait to visit the Trotternish Ridge, could be considered a failure. However, I really like what I have, so for me the visit was a definite success.
*Their bodies were found several months later. It was suggested that they had simply walked off the edge of the ridge in poor visibility, but no-one really knows what happened.