About

I used to pick my locations for hill walking where taking pictures was secondary. Now the roles have reversed and photography decides where I go. Releasing the shutter is the easiest part of capturing images. All the hard work has been done already (researching location, checking forecasts, planning arrival time, driving, climbing mountains etc).

If I’m not camping a 02:30 rise is needed for me to reach further locations for a decent time. Before I had my driving licence it pained me to see someone jump out of a car and grab a picture of a scene it took me hours to walk to. Being able to drive has granted me new freedom. It isn't all about the pictures though; arriving at a scene with time to spare and having the luxury to leave my camera in its bag and indulge in my surroundings is nothing short of magnificent and I always enjoy the experience of being somewhere wild.

I have mostly used Canon gear as I find their products reliable and produce great results. I started with an APS compact camera before purchasing a 1X APS SLR with a 17-40mm lens. However, moving onto a 20D really allowed my photography to blossom and I have since exclusively used Canon's 5 series, utilising their improved picture quality and full frame coverage. Several lenses plus tripod, spare clothes and food means I have to take nearly a full rucksack on most trips. I use high quality glass as I find consumer grade lenses to be of insufficient quality to cater for my needs, although their bulk and weight is inconvenient.

As my photographic experience has increased, I find myself utilising the panoramic format more often. I find this format ideal for capturing Scotland’s great outdoors as the near 3:1 aspect ratio can exclude an empty foreground and bland sky; focusing the viewer’s attention on the important features in the middle of the picture. Unfortunately converting the 5D’s 3:2 format into this format loses about half of its resolution. An affordable panoramic digital camera would be ideal.

I love shooting digital. But there’s something special about using film; a feeling of creating a photograph rather than just recording data onto digital media. My Fuji G617 and Velvia film provide brilliant opportunities to capture those special moments. I find film captures light and colour in a superior and more accurate way to digital and its large film size produces exceptional clarity.

I try to keep things natural in my photographs with filters being used sparingly. I only use digital editing to restore an image to the way I saw it through my eyes and to fix blemishes such as dust etc.

Preparation is the key to successful photography. After every trip I clean all my equipment and recharge the batteries ready for the next photo opportunity. You should never miss a photo because of a low battery or an unusable tripod because of dirt caught in its hinges.

I will forever remember all my experiences in the countryside of Scotland and I’m sure many more await me.

NEIL COFFEY