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Scotland - the Final European Adventure (62 images!)
Posted By: Heie, 05-05-2014, 06:31 PM

For those who do not know me, I am a U.S. Army officer that was until recently (as in, last week) stationed in Bavaria, Germany. As with all good things, it had to come to an end (and man do I already miss it). Seeing as my window to travel Europe was closing, I made it a priority to make one last excursion to a place I have been dreaming of visiting since I first heard Sean Connery's sultry voice - Scotland. I traveled from the end of March into the first week of April (so I returned about a month ago), but I have been so busy since returning that I have not been able to post the photos until now. Outprocessing from your unit, packing and moving your entire house, last minute visits to friends you won't see for a while, and then being sent away for training will suck up all your time Just started Tower Week (Week 2), but this is where I've been since that final departure from the Fatherland:


(P.S., Jenny, my German wife, has arrived in New York and is officially a permanent resident of the United States of America )

A quick touch on gear (we're all about the gear, that's why we're here ). I packed the K-3 with the DA* 16-50mm f/2.8, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, and DFA 100mm Macro WR. I was originally going to bring the DA* 60-250, and then realized that I was planning a hike during the middle of the trip. While I have hiked with it before, this time would be different because it would require a photo backpack, which would be extremely cumbersome in addition to an actual hiking backpack (60 Liters) that I would have filled with all my clothing for the trip. The hike was a "Point A to Point B" hike with no intent on returning to the start point, so I would be taking everything I brought to Scotland with me. I settled on my Kata fanny pack that would allow me to keep it on my waist in front (opposite the backpack) or behind me directly under the backpack, hence the settling on the 10-17, the standard zoom, and the compact 100mm for telephoto reach, should I need it. Plus, with the K-3's 24mp resolution, I could easily "zoom in" via cropping. So, the packing list was finalized, including a 77mm filter, L-plate, backup SD cards, 2 extra batteries. I also brought the Sirui T-025x tripod that I love so much, and that was stowed inside my backpack (it easily fit laying down between clothing), and when I was hiking/touring around, it was clipped to my belt loop 100% of the time. It has become my defacto carrying method for that tripod, seen here for those that might be confused by what I mean (taken from the Pentax Forums in-depth review of the tripod):



All photos were shot in RAW (.dng) and then processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.4. Some were put through Topaz Clarity to give it that little extra pop when I felt it was warranted, and I've identified those photos below.

Anyway, this will be pretty long as it is, so I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story from the trip.

But before I do, I wanted to touch on just one thing and emphasize just how much effort I put into these photos. I am a product of the digital photography age. I had a camera here and there with film, but it was never anything more than a point and shoot with fixed lens. My "tenure" as an actual photographer is purely digital, and as such, its conveniences. I shoot in RAW and process all of my photos manually, with a very significant portion of my photographs being taken hastily and using rather poor technique, namely the lack of a tripod and using high ISO with abandon. In a fast-paced documentary situation (combat photography, weddings, etc.), tripods are not practical and high ISO becomes your best friend. But when you have the time, such as landscapes, not using one is nothing but laziness. Of course a situation may present itself and you just don't have a tripod with you - understandable. But when you actively leave the tripod at home or worse, have it with you and actively choose to not use it except for long exposures that would otherwise be impossible handheld? That's where I fell in much of the time, and I made a conscious decision to change that, altering my behavior so that a tripod and ISO 100 were (usually) achieved for any and every shot that time allowed, "getting it right" in camera rather than via post processing.

As a result of this exercise, I do believe that the quality of my photographs significantly improved. I encourage and welcome any and all criticism regarding the validity to that claim.

Ok, now, onto the pictures


1) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Jenny and I flew into Edinburgh and the next day, we went to the Edinburgh Castle. I had a few other things planned to do that day after leaving the castle, however.....wow....we were there for over 7 hours. They just had so many different exhibitions that we were there for a WHILE. It was fantastic, and while it's a bit pricey, highly recommended to go visit there yourself and dedicate several hours. This is one of the first views of the castle from inside the lower courtyard. I waited about 5 minutes for a gap in tourists to get this image without anyone in it.




2) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 3s, f/7.1, ISO 200, Tripod, 2s Timer

Inside the castle one of the exhibitions displayed recreated living conditions for prisoners of the castle's dungeons. There weren't that many people, so I set up my tripod and captured the below image, converting it to black and white. Now that I'm looking at it again, it seems a bit too overexposed to properly capture the mood of a dungeon.




3) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

A view of the lower parts of the castle when viewed from the upper courtyard.




4) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 1/80s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

A side view of the wall shown in image #2. I must have taken about 6 images trying to get the lamp as perfect as I got (not distortion wise, but framing wise).




5) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 200, Handheld

Also in the castle grounds, along one of the "alleys" between courtyards.




6) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 1/50s, f/4.5, ISO 1600, Handheld

Jenny being silly with the crown the castle cafe used to note which tables had orders with food coming from the kitchen so their servers knew where to go. Our first haggis was on the way




7) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

One perhaps the most beautiful day possible, we went for a hike above Edinburgh in the bluffs overlooking the city adjacent to the Palace of Hollyrood House (also beautiful and worth a visit). Here I handed my camera to a random person and asked her to take a picture. It took a few takes because she wanted to put us directly in the center - she seemed to have no concept of composition other than centering your subject. Even when I deliberately took a picture of Jenny while she was up there and said "Just like this, with us in the very corner." She still centered us as if that was the only way she could take a picture? I appreciated her patience and willingness to take a few extra attempts, because now it's one of my favorite images from the trip.




8) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/3200s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

As we were walking back down the hill, I looked behind me to see this scene. I quickly changed lenses and was able to catch it before it ended. I really like the way this image came out.




9) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/800s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

On our walk back from the bluffs, walking through downtown Edinburgh we came across this tower. Directly to the left (outside the frame, but where that leafless tree is) is an old cemetery that was my first taste of Scottish cemeteries (stay tuned for pictures from Glasgow's Necropolis...). Munroe is buried there, the famous adventurer and mountaineer whose namesake dons all the mountains over 3,000 ft in the country. A popular hobby is to 'bag munroes,' and if I had more time in Scotland, I certainly would take part and bag a few.




10) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/500s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld

Jenny considered enrolling me




11) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/50s, f/7.1, ISO 800, Handheld, Topaz Clarity


A part of the historic part of Edinburgh - there were just so many closes (old Scottish for alley because...you guessed it - the walls are close). I found it beautiful.




12) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 0.6s, f/11, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

Another shot of a neighborhood in Edinburgh, but this time in the 'modern' part of the town. Took me a while to frame this one because of all the cars on the road.



And sadly, that was the end of Jenny being with me in the United Kingdom. She still had work (she's an elementary school teacher) and could only get the weekend, so when I left Edinburgh to continue my odyssey, she flew home and went to work. Yet another reason to revisit Scotland again


13) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 10s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

When I arrived in Glasgow, I met up with my cousin, Avalon. She had been living there for several years now since marrying a Scotsman and moving in with him (woohoo free lodging! ). She asked if I was interested in seeing an abandoned and decrepit building that had just decayed. It was an old public bathhouse that was condemned about 10 years ago. Jumping at the opportunity, she let me in and let me wander on my own for several hours. I had a blast! Here is a small corridor in the maintenance tunnels that ran under the place. This took about 10 takes to get it right, and even then it was severely underexposed to save the grating along the back window.




14) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Old boilers that helped heat one of the pools.




15) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/50s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I just fell in love with this room because of all the peeling paint along the ceiling. Just incredible. Those stalls you see are individual bathing rooms, each with a bathtub. I climbed on one of the stalls and I could hear the wood creaking under my weight. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have done that lol.




16) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 30mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I tried as hard as I could to get this perfectly aligned, but it just wasn't happening. Still, another interesting vantage point.




17) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro, 100mm, 1/10s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I set the tripod in a tub for this shot and pointed the lens straight up, manually focusing on the filament in the bulb. Focus peaking was a huge help on this shot, and because the camera was pointed straight up, I really wished I had a Flucard.




18) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 4s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This room was also fascinating, and was another boiler room for a different pool in the complex. I defished the image in Lightroom, which explains the soft (almost smeared) edges. I don't think it necessarily detracts from the image as it kind of makes it seem like a DOF blur, focusing your eyes (mine at least) towards the center of the image. Either way, I still really like this shot.




19) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 0.3s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

If you look at the image above, it was taken from a slightly higher vantage point than simply ground level. I found a small ledge with a really rusted ladder and climbed up it (hoping the ladder wouldn't pull out of the wall as I did). As my head cleared the landing, I had the crap scared out of me by a pigeon that just took off and felt like it nearly flew into me. I continued climbing up and it wasn't until I was up there that I found these chicks huddling together. I tried to use my headlamp to paint light on them, and while I am not too happy with how it came out (the lighting seems a bit too harsh and obvious), I didn't stay for more than just a couple of tries so as not to stress them out more than I already was. My favorite part of it is the train ticket that the bird picked up to use as part of the nest.




20) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/40s, f5.6, ISO 800, Handheld

In one of the pools, kids turned it into a makeshift skate park. Pretty cool if you ask me.




21) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 800, Handheld

The main pool, it has been used, oddly enough, to host theatrical productions with a thin, center running stage, the audience standing along either side in the drained pool.They just finished tearing down a set and were in the process of building a new one. And it was good to see Scots can be just as juvenile as Americans




22) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 0.4s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, RAW HDR, Topaz Clarity

The entire ceiling of the Glasgow Cathedral, shot using the K-3's RAW HDR function (for those that don't know - the camera shoots three files at varying exposure levels and merges them together automatically, but it's one massive [i.e. 100+ mb]RAW file rather than a JPG). I was told that pictures were allowed, and when I asked about a tripod, I was told that you can take all the pictures you want, just no flash and the tripod cannot impede any trafficked areas. I nearly dropped my jaw when I heard that. So, I shot the vantage point I felt could completely capture the entire interior, and I think I succeeded with this image. It was not defished. Also, the entire time I was in there the organist was practicing and wow - it was movingly beautiful to witness that.




23) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/40s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

After visiting the cathedral, I made my way above it into the Necropolis, a famous cemetery in the city, and by far the most beautiful that I've ever visited. Anywhere. I tried my best to find the one vantage point that really capture the feeling of being in it, and this was the best I could come up with. It had just finished raining, so the grass is especially green as well.




24) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/640s, f/9, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Like I said, it had started raining, which caused most of the tourists to quickly depart the cemetery and seek refuge from the downpour. I held my ground, fixed in my assumption that if I waited it out, the sun would break through and provide some beautiful light through the clouds. it only took 30 min for my meteorological training (ha...none) to prove fruitful. It might be a bit overcooked (i.e HDR) for some, but it was the effect I was going for.



24a) Here's the original RAW file, so you can see just how much detail the K-3 was able to salvage from the shadows. Utterly incredible if you ask me:

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25) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

I saw this tombstone with the piece on the floor and immediately came up with this image in my head. I was glad I had my tripod with me because it required the camera to be at near ground level and pointed straight up. Another instance a Flucard would have been beneficial as I was laying on the ground trying to view the LCD screen at an angle.




26) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/15s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Walking along the gardens just outside the downtown area, I came across this beautiful row of cherry blossoms.




27) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/60s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2x Strobes

While in Glasgow, I had made plans to visit Usuqa (aka Meuh on DPR), who happened to live just outside the city, to do a photoshoot together in hopes of learning a little about how to use off-camera flash as I am very, very much a newby to it. I had an absolute blast being with him in his studio and meeting his wonderful family. I was even invited to stay for a home-cooked Scottish meal!

We had brainstormed a bit before I even got on a plane about concepts to shoot. The first general idea was something about my personality/hobbies. As an avid outdoorsman, a photo of me hiking/trail running came to mind, but the terrain to do the shot properly wasn't readily accessible. So instead, we opted for option two, which was way more fun anyway.

I jumped on his son's brand new tricycle and the following badass-ness ensued

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27a) Here is the behind the scenes shot with the lighting set-up:

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Of my entire trip, visiting Paul was absolutely one of the highlights. Thanks again, Paul!

And so my time in Glasgow had come to an end, which led me north to Loch Lomond. I stayed at a beautiful B&B called the Ardvorlich House. If you are ever in the area, pay it a visit. The hosts were arguably the most accommodating I've ever had the pleasure of staying with. They were waiting for me to pick me up from the bus stop (a 15 min drive, whose arrival was about 30 min delayed because of traffic). Later that evening and without any prompting from me, I was offered a lift to a fantastic pub for dinner (another 15min drive each way), picking me up two hours later to bring me back. Then, the next morning the breakfast was unbelievable. Finally, I realized that I made a mistake and paid for my dinner using the last bit of cash I had rather than my credit card, so I needed to get to an ATM in order to pay for the bus ticket the next morning. No worries - they drove me to the nearest money machine, which was about 35 min away. When I said my goodbye and offered some cash to cover all the fuel spent on me, I was adamantly refused and told to enjoy the rest of my trip.

I spoke with one of the owners about the prospect of exploring in the immediate area around the B&B, and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "I'd like to go hiking around here and I heard what seems like a waterfall walking up the road to your place. Is there a possibility that I can go check it out?"

Scottish Host: "Of course. In Scotland you have the right to roam."

Me: "I'm sorry, what?"

Scottish Host: "The 'Right to Roam.' It's Scottish law that you can go anywhere you want, even if it says private property or no trespassing. Just make sure if you open a gate you close it, and if it was already open, leave it open. Farmers tend to not be the friendliest if you chase their sheep or cows around, but unless you cause damage to their property, they legally cannot remove you from it. The one exception is military installations that you can't trespass on, but you won't find any around here. So yea, anywhere in the country, you have the right to roam where you want."

Me: "You try that in America and you have the right to get shot."


28) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 17mm, 2s, f/11, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer


So, I took the advice and left for a few hours. I found the creek I had heard and traveled up along it, seeing if there were any interesting waterfalls along the way. I came away with this shot after several attempts and compositions.




29) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 3s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

On the way down from the creek waterfall, I stopped to look around, and this was the view of Loch Lomond beneath and in front of me. Too bad the time of year yielded only the drab brown and barren hills seen here.




30) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 30s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

I noticed a beautiful strip of green cutting through the rather drab undergrowth as viewed from above during my descent back. Upon closer inspection, it seemed to be a road covered entirely in moss. I have no way of knowing if it is actually an old Roman road (in actuality I suspect not ), but I was determined to get a shot of it. I started from the opposite shore, but it did nothing to capture the essence of it being a road and more dramatically, an old bridge over a stream. By the time I made it to the other bank, it was getting dark. Really dark, especially for a camera (by the time I left I was arguing with myself whether I should bring out the headlamp I had in my bag as I still had a little while to go back to the B&B through the forest).

I set up my framing, mounted the camera on the tripod, activated the 2s delay, and went straight for 30 seconds on the exposure. At one point while leaning back to see the LCD better (tripod was at its lowest level), I rolled backward, which scared the ever living crap out of me because had I continued to roll even so much as another foot (1/3 meter) further, I would have gone over the small cliff/ledge I was standing on.

I couldn't be more pleased with the result.




31) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 36mm, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

After leaving Loch Lomond, I took the bus to King's House, a famous hotel off the highway that marks a formal stop along the West Highland Way. Determined to get some hiking in, I went did my research and the section between King's House and Kinlochleven seemed the most arduous (namely because of the Devil's Staircase). The bus dropped me off right on the highway, and several hundred meters later, I was at the starting for for this section. It started slow, and then climbed pretty quickly - here's the view looking up and the people along the route as well.




32) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/125s, f/9, ISO 100, Handheld

The weather started to turn once we got above the low cloud ceiling.For reference, the second ground of hikers (in front of the hiker in the yellow jacket) was less than 15m away from me.




33) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/125s, f/9, ISO 100, Handheld

After arriving into Kinlochleven, the next morning I quickly departed for Glencoe, where this was taken (looking towards the Pass with the Pap behind me to my left for those that know the area). I honestly would have gone for the Pap (the "Pap of Glencoe," or a small rounded mountain that resembles a woman's breast, hence the old Scottish name of 'pap'), but I was still recovering from a knee injury and decided it would be wise not to. It wasn't the clearest day anyway, so no worries.




34) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 1/125s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld

That evening, after retiring to my hostel for dinner, I encountered a group of three Canadians traveling through the area. We got to talking as we were eating in the community kitchen, and they invited me to tag alone with them the next day. We ended up driving first to Ballachulish, a small coastal town just south of Glencoe. Here they are doing a map check as I catch up to them after attempting some photos back in the forest.




35) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld

The town of Ballachulish from the trail we were hiking on.




36) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/60s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

While on the trail, we came across these moss covered ruins of what seemed to be a house with multiple rooms.





37) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/25s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Adjacent to the above ruins were these ruins. I regret not taking the time to be more deliberate and deploy my tripod, but they were waiting on me and I had already told them to continue on and that I'd catch up over 20 min before. But still, I'm pleased with this shot despite my realization that the DA 10-17 Fisheye would have been better for the enclosed space.





38) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1/60s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Another set of ruins in the same area, this time I tried using the trees to create a natural framing of the image.




39) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld


A group portrait I took for them. It was a bit windy

Also, I found it funny that they asked "Are you sure we are in the picture? You aren't even looking at us."



40) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/1250s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

And my landscape version devoid of humans.




41) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/800s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This image was frankly one of the hardest images to take of the entire trip. We were driving through the Glencoe Pass (where the above two images and the below one was taken) and pulled off to the side of the road to get a closer look at this waterfall. The sun was just way too overpowering and I didn't have any filters (namely graduated ND filters) compatible with the DA 10-17 Fisheye (Google claims that none exist anyway). I think that all things considered and some heavy post processing (there's some digitally applied grad filters in LR to recover the cloud detail), this came out pretty well.



42) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

We stopped for lunch at the locally renowned Clachaig Inn, and because it was about 1400, it was completely empty. I asked if I could take pictures of the interior, and the staff said to have at it. So I deployed my trusty travel tripod and took about 30 shots. The following were what I felt were the best.




43) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1.6s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Another of the interior, this time taken at the bar itself.




44) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This time I shot using RAW HDR, but from a different angle.




45) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/640s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

I finally found the Highland Cow! How cool is he (she?) ?!




46) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

Another angle, but this time with the most adorable dwarf pony slightly behind it. Shetland Pony?




47) K-3, DA 10-17 Fisheye, 10mm, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

A series of small waterfalls where the river merged just downstream of all three.




48) K-3, DA 10-17 Fisheye, 11mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

A fun shot - enjoying the view




49) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1.3s, f10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, 6-stop ND Filter, Topaz Clarity

I would have loved this shot if the trees were bursting with green foliage...




50) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1/80s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

Way before I had stepped foot on Scottish soil, I had this type of shot envisioned - a rustic cabin/hut in the foreground with looming mountains in the background.



After leaving Glencoe, I was on my way to Oban, the "Gateway to the Islands" of Scotland. I left the hostel armed with the information that the bus would stop at around noon. Sure enough, the bus came...and kept going. Turns out the bus passes Glencoe on the only road heading to Oban, but doesn't stop. So now I have a 1 hour bus ride with no bus, and I was left to hitchhiking.

I parked myself and my gear on the side of the road, and because I didn't have a large piece of paper, I used the only "canvas" I could think of - my laptop! So I made a sign with Microsoft Paint and held up the laptop using my left hand, enthusiastic thumb pointing to the sky in my right. This was my sign:

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After 45 min of no takers, it started to dawn on me that perhaps my desire to express my state of personal hygiene was a bit too forward and thus counter-productive to my cause. I edited it and came up with the following:

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WIthin 10 min, a wonderful woman picked me up in her large tractor trailer and proceeded to chat my ear off and give me a guided tour of all the places we were passing along the scenic route. And a good thing to (regarding the within 10 min), my battery was getting pretty low, and I was resorting my putting my laptop in hibernate mode between each stream of cars

51) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 26mm, 1/100s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Part of my travels always at least incorporates the attempt to couchsurf, as I'm a big proponent of the idea and have been doing it since 2008 (my profile can be found here, since made a joint account for Jenny and I). I found a willing host in Oban, my next stop after Glencoe, and this was my first sight (he was not at home when I arrived) after climbing the massive hill to his house (it was originally a WWII lookout point overlooking the entire area on top of the mountain to watch the bay for U-Boats and Germany airplanes with a 3-man guard shift that rotated every hour). My first thought upon seeing this scene? "If this were Afghanistan, this would be REALLY bad," referencing a homemade explosives factory that produced the ubiquitous roadside bomb.

Then my next thought was..."Blood?"


52) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/160s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Turns out they are used vegetable oil collected from the town's restaurants (i.e. the grease your fries, aka 'chips,' are boiled in), and that's how he heats his place using a stove his made himself that also has has a stone surface that allows for cooking (it's how he cooked us pasta and tea!). Also, the water is heated using pipes that run along the stove.

Ingenious, and the entire set-up and how he lived so self-sufficiently instantly reminded me of my grandfather. Regardless - he was a fascinating person to meet and he offered free accommodation by way of a couch to sleep on. I really, really enjoyed my time there with him.




53) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/500s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Good morning, Oban! A beautiful sunrise from his house. His place commanded such an incredible view in all 360 degrees.



53a) Again, another unprocessed RAW so you can see the dynamic range of the K-3. This was pushed over 3.5 stops, and not a hint of banding. Incredible feat of sensor technology, undoubtedly.

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54) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/640s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Enjoying playing around with the beautiful day.



55) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/640s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

And now a serious shot, capturing the view of what I felt was a perfect place to pitch a tent. On the beach you can barely make out where some owners and their dogs are playing in the shallow water.





56) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/640s, f/5.0, ISO 100, Handheld

This was a pretty interesting encounter - I was photographic this swan from afar when it came towards me to investigate who/what I was. I was a little concerned when the swan came within less than a meter of me - I thought it might attack me.



57) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/60s, f/8.0, ISO 100, Handheld

A beautiful seaside house (town of Ganavan) - man I'd love to live there...




58) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 39mm, 1/100s, f/8.0, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity
A couple watches the sunset and rain in the distance...




59) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 39mm, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

Wouldn't you love to have her reading spot?



I really hope you enjoyed this photo series - I can't wait to return to Scotland and get to the places I had to cut from my trip in the interest of time - the Outer Hebrides, the Islands of Mull and Skye, and Loch Ness, and especially with Jenny by my side.

Additionally, if you have never come across a photo essay of mine before, I invite you to visit a few of the others I have compiled from my travels/adventures elsewhere:
They all follow the same photo essay style (including the Deployment series that I have had approved for a while now and just haven't gotten around to re-uploading...I know....I know....), which I am starting to realize might just be "my niche"...

Again, if you have any criticism, I welcome and encourage it to further hone my craft, both photographically and my prose.

Thanks again for stopping by!

-Heie


Last edited by Heie; 05-05-2014 at 06:56 PM.
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05-06-2014, 02:18 PM   #16
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Top shots, it takes a visitor to see things we take for granted or miss entirely as we all head off to Spain on our holidays! The tricycle shot is terrific too

05-06-2014, 02:35 PM   #17
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Scotland

Thanks for the memories, Heie. My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Scotland a little over two years ago - Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Oban - wonderful places in a wonderful country.

Peter
Melbourne, Australia.
05-06-2014, 04:49 PM   #18
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Great photos and story, thank you for sharing love the tricycle shots.
05-06-2014, 05:09 PM   #19
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Heie, thank you for showing a country and terrain imagined but not touched. Great photo tour. Your images are tack sharp, well composed and more imporantly to me, capture the physical Scottish Highlands. I felt the chill, smelled the heather, tasted the salty mist from the sea. Great job!

05-07-2014, 09:19 AM   #20
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Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and the accompanying story! Well done as usually. That tricycle shot made me laugh out loud
05-07-2014, 10:02 AM   #21
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Scotland has always been on my 'bucket list' and now I want to see it even more! Great job on the photographs and reporting.
09-24-2014, 07:48 AM   #22
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Oh my goodness, your photos are amazing! I really liked all the spec.s too.
09-24-2014, 12:53 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heie Quote
For those who do not know me, I am a U.S. Army officer that was until recently (as in, last week) stationed in Bavaria, Germany. As with all good things, it had to come to an end (and man do I already miss it). Seeing as my window to travel Europe was closing, I made it a priority to make one last excursion to a place I have been dreaming of visiting since I first heard Sean Connery's sultry voice - Scotland. I traveled from the end of March into the first week of April (so I returned about a month ago), but I have been so busy since returning that I have not been able to post the photos until now. Outprocessing from your unit, packing and moving your entire house, last minute visits to friends you won't see for a while, and then being sent away for training will suck up all your time Just started Tower Week (Week 2), but this is where I've been since that final departure from the Fatherland:

U.S. Army Airborne School - YouTube

(P.S., Jenny, my German wife, has arrived in New York and is officially a permanent resident of the United States of America )

A quick touch on gear (we're all about the gear, that's why we're here ). I packed the K-3 with the DA* 16-50mm f/2.8, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, and DFA 100mm Macro WR. I was originally going to bring the DA* 60-250, and then realized that I was planning a hike during the middle of the trip. While I have hiked with it before, this time would be different because it would require a photo backpack, which would be extremely cumbersome in addition to an actual hiking backpack (60 Liters) that I would have filled with all my clothing for the trip. The hike was a "Point A to Point B" hike with no intent on returning to the start point, so I would be taking everything I brought to Scotland with me. I settled on my Kata fanny pack that would allow me to keep it on my waist in front (opposite the backpack) or behind me directly under the backpack, hence the settling on the 10-17, the standard zoom, and the compact 100mm for telephoto reach, should I need it. Plus, with the K-3's 24mp resolution, I could easily "zoom in" via cropping. So, the packing list was finalized, including a 77mm filter, L-plate, backup SD cards, 2 extra batteries. I also brought the Sirui T-025x tripod that I love so much, and that was stowed inside my backpack (it easily fit laying down between clothing), and when I was hiking/touring around, it was clipped to my belt loop 100% of the time. It has become my defacto carrying method for that tripod, seen here for those that might be confused by what I mean (taken from the Pentax Forums in-depth review of the tripod):



All photos were shot in RAW (.dng) and then processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.4. Some were put through Topaz Clarity to give it that little extra pop when I felt it was warranted, and I've identified those photos below.

Anyway, this will be pretty long as it is, so I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story from the trip.

But before I do, I wanted to touch on just one thing and emphasize just how much effort I put into these photos. I am a product of the digital photography age. I had a camera here and there with film, but it was never anything more than a point and shoot with fixed lens. My "tenure" as an actual photographer is purely digital, and as such, its conveniences. I shoot in RAW and process all of my photos manually, with a very significant portion of my photographs being taken hastily and using rather poor technique, namely the lack of a tripod and using high ISO with abandon. In a fast-paced documentary situation (combat photography, weddings, etc.), tripods are not practical and high ISO becomes your best friend. But when you have the time, such as landscapes, not using one is nothing but laziness. Of course a situation may present itself and you just don't have a tripod with you - understandable. But when you actively leave the tripod at home or worse, have it with you and actively choose to not use it except for long exposures that would otherwise be impossible handheld? That's where I fell in much of the time, and I made a conscious decision to change that, altering my behavior so that a tripod and ISO 100 were (usually) achieved for any and every shot that time allowed, "getting it right" in camera rather than via post processing.

As a result of this exercise, I do believe that the quality of my photographs significantly improved. I encourage and welcome any and all criticism regarding the validity to that claim.

Ok, now, onto the pictures


1) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Jenny and I flew into Edinburgh and the next day, we went to the Edinburgh Castle. I had a few other things planned to do that day after leaving the castle, however.....wow....we were there for over 7 hours. They just had so many different exhibitions that we were there for a WHILE. It was fantastic, and while it's a bit pricey, highly recommended to go visit there yourself and dedicate several hours. This is one of the first views of the castle from inside the lower courtyard. I waited about 5 minutes for a gap in tourists to get this image without anyone in it.




2) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 3s, f/7.1, ISO 200, Tripod, 2s Timer

Inside the castle one of the exhibitions displayed recreated living conditions for prisoners of the castle's dungeons. There weren't that many people, so I set up my tripod and captured the below image, converting it to black and white. Now that I'm looking at it again, it seems a bit too overexposed to properly capture the mood of a dungeon.




3) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

A view of the lower parts of the castle when viewed from the upper courtyard.




4) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 1/80s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

A side view of the wall shown in image #2. I must have taken about 6 images trying to get the lamp as perfect as I got (not distortion wise, but framing wise).




5) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 200, Handheld

Also in the castle grounds, along one of the "alleys" between courtyards.




6) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 1/50s, f/4.5, ISO 1600, Handheld

Jenny being silly with the crown the castle cafe used to note which tables had orders with food coming from the kitchen so their servers knew where to go. Our first haggis was on the way




7) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

One perhaps the most beautiful day possible, we went for a hike above Edinburgh in the bluffs overlooking the city adjacent to the Palace of Hollyrood House (also beautiful and worth a visit). Here I handed my camera to a random person and asked her to take a picture. It took a few takes because she wanted to put us directly in the center - she seemed to have no concept of composition other than centering your subject. Even when I deliberately took a picture of Jenny while she was up there and said "Just like this, with us in the very corner." She still centered us as if that was the only way she could take a picture? I appreciated her patience and willingness to take a few extra attempts, because now it's one of my favorite images from the trip.




8) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/3200s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

As we were walking back down the hill, I looked behind me to see this scene. I quickly changed lenses and was able to catch it before it ended. I really like the way this image came out.




9) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/800s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

On our walk back from the bluffs, walking through downtown Edinburgh we came across this tower. Directly to the left (outside the frame, but where that leafless tree is) is an old cemetery that was my first taste of Scottish cemeteries (stay tuned for pictures from Glasgow's Necropolis...). Munroe is buried there, the famous adventurer and mountaineer whose namesake dons all the mountains over 3,000 ft in the country. A popular hobby is to 'bag munroes,' and if I had more time in Scotland, I certainly would take part and bag a few.




10) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/500s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld

Jenny considered enrolling me




11) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/50s, f/7.1, ISO 800, Handheld, Topaz Clarity


A part of the historic part of Edinburgh - there were just so many closes (old Scottish for alley because...you guessed it - the walls are close). I found it beautiful.




12) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 45mm, 0.6s, f/11, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

Another shot of a neighborhood in Edinburgh, but this time in the 'modern' part of the town. Took me a while to frame this one because of all the cars on the road.



And sadly, that was the end of Jenny being with me in the United Kingdom. She still had work (she's an elementary school teacher) and could only get the weekend, so when I left Edinburgh to continue my odyssey, she flew home and went to work. Yet another reason to revisit Scotland again


13) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 10s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

When I arrived in Glasgow, I met up with my cousin, Avalon. She had been living there for several years now since marrying a Scotsman and moving in with him (woohoo free lodging! ). She asked if I was interested in seeing an abandoned and decrepit building that had just decayed. It was an old public bathhouse that was condemned about 10 years ago. Jumping at the opportunity, she let me in and let me wander on my own for several hours. I had a blast! Here is a small corridor in the maintenance tunnels that ran under the place. This took about 10 takes to get it right, and even then it was severely underexposed to save the grating along the back window.




14) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Old boilers that helped heat one of the pools.




15) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/50s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I just fell in love with this room because of all the peeling paint along the ceiling. Just incredible. Those stalls you see are individual bathing rooms, each with a bathtub. I climbed on one of the stalls and I could hear the wood creaking under my weight. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have done that lol.




16) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 30mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I tried as hard as I could to get this perfectly aligned, but it just wasn't happening. Still, another interesting vantage point.




17) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro, 100mm, 1/10s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

I set the tripod in a tub for this shot and pointed the lens straight up, manually focusing on the filament in the bulb. Focus peaking was a huge help on this shot, and because the camera was pointed straight up, I really wished I had a Flucard.




18) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 4s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This room was also fascinating, and was another boiler room for a different pool in the complex. I defished the image in Lightroom, which explains the soft (almost smeared) edges. I don't think it necessarily detracts from the image as it kind of makes it seem like a DOF blur, focusing your eyes (mine at least) towards the center of the image. Either way, I still really like this shot.




19) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 0.3s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

If you look at the image above, it was taken from a slightly higher vantage point than simply ground level. I found a small ledge with a really rusted ladder and climbed up it (hoping the ladder wouldn't pull out of the wall as I did). As my head cleared the landing, I had the crap scared out of me by a pigeon that just took off and felt like it nearly flew into me. I continued climbing up and it wasn't until I was up there that I found these chicks huddling together. I tried to use my headlamp to paint light on them, and while I am not too happy with how it came out (the lighting seems a bit too harsh and obvious), I didn't stay for more than just a couple of tries so as not to stress them out more than I already was. My favorite part of it is the train ticket that the bird picked up to use as part of the nest.




20) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/40s, f5.6, ISO 800, Handheld

In one of the pools, kids turned it into a makeshift skate park. Pretty cool if you ask me.




21) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 800, Handheld

The main pool, it has been used, oddly enough, to host theatrical productions with a thin, center running stage, the audience standing along either side in the drained pool.They just finished tearing down a set and were in the process of building a new one. And it was good to see Scots can be just as juvenile as Americans




22) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 0.4s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, RAW HDR, Topaz Clarity

The entire ceiling of the Glasgow Cathedral, shot using the K-3's RAW HDR function (for those that don't know - the camera shoots three files at varying exposure levels and merges them together automatically, but it's one massive [i.e. 100+ mb]RAW file rather than a JPG). I was told that pictures were allowed, and when I asked about a tripod, I was told that you can take all the pictures you want, just no flash and the tripod cannot impede any trafficked areas. I nearly dropped my jaw when I heard that. So, I shot the vantage point I felt could completely capture the entire interior, and I think I succeeded with this image. It was not defished. Also, the entire time I was in there the organist was practicing and wow - it was movingly beautiful to witness that.




23) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/40s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

After visiting the cathedral, I made my way above it into the Necropolis, a famous cemetery in the city, and by far the most beautiful that I've ever visited. Anywhere. I tried my best to find the one vantage point that really capture the feeling of being in it, and this was the best I could come up with. It had just finished raining, so the grass is especially green as well.




24) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 18mm, 1/640s, f/9, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Like I said, it had started raining, which caused most of the tourists to quickly depart the cemetery and seek refuge from the downpour. I held my ground, fixed in my assumption that if I waited it out, the sun would break through and provide some beautiful light through the clouds. it only took 30 min for my meteorological training (ha...none) to prove fruitful. It might be a bit overcooked (i.e HDR) for some, but it was the effect I was going for.



24a) Here's the original RAW file, so you can see just how much detail the K-3 was able to salvage from the shadows. Utterly incredible if you ask me:

Attachment 219889


25) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

I saw this tombstone with the piece on the floor and immediately came up with this image in my head. I was glad I had my tripod with me because it required the camera to be at near ground level and pointed straight up. Another instance a Flucard would have been beneficial as I was laying on the ground trying to view the LCD screen at an angle.




26) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/15s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Walking along the gardens just outside the downtown area, I came across this beautiful row of cherry blossoms.




27) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/60s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2x Strobes

While in Glasgow, I had made plans to visit Usuqa (aka Meuh on DPR), who happened to live just outside the city, to do a photoshoot together in hopes of learning a little about how to use off-camera flash as I am very, very much a newby to it. I had an absolute blast being with him in his studio and meeting his wonderful family. I was even invited to stay for a home-cooked Scottish meal!

We had brainstormed a bit before I even got on a plane about concepts to shoot. The first general idea was something about my personality/hobbies. As an avid outdoorsman, a photo of me hiking/trail running came to mind, but the terrain to do the shot properly wasn't readily accessible. So instead, we opted for option two, which was way more fun anyway.

I jumped on his son's brand new tricycle and the following badass-ness ensued

Attachment 219885

27a) Here is the behind the scenes shot with the lighting set-up:

Attachment 219886

Of my entire trip, visiting Paul was absolutely one of the highlights. Thanks again, Paul!

And so my time in Glasgow had come to an end, which led me north to Loch Lomond. I stayed at a beautiful B&B called the Ardvorlich House. If you are ever in the area, pay it a visit. The hosts were arguably the most accommodating I've ever had the pleasure of staying with. They were waiting for me to pick me up from the bus stop (a 15 min drive, whose arrival was about 30 min delayed because of traffic). Later that evening and without any prompting from me, I was offered a lift to a fantastic pub for dinner (another 15min drive each way), picking me up two hours later to bring me back. Then, the next morning the breakfast was unbelievable. Finally, I realized that I made a mistake and paid for my dinner using the last bit of cash I had rather than my credit card, so I needed to get to an ATM in order to pay for the bus ticket the next morning. No worries - they drove me to the nearest money machine, which was about 35 min away. When I said my goodbye and offered some cash to cover all the fuel spent on me, I was adamantly refused and told to enjoy the rest of my trip.

I spoke with one of the owners about the prospect of exploring in the immediate area around the B&B, and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "I'd like to go hiking around here and I heard what seems like a waterfall walking up the road to your place. Is there a possibility that I can go check it out?"

Scottish Host: "Of course. In Scotland you have the right to roam."

Me: "I'm sorry, what?"

Scottish Host: "The 'Right to Roam.' It's Scottish law that you can go anywhere you want, even if it says private property or no trespassing. Just make sure if you open a gate you close it, and if it was already open, leave it open. Farmers tend to not be the friendliest if you chase their sheep or cows around, but unless you cause damage to their property, they legally cannot remove you from it. The one exception is military installations that you can't trespass on, but you won't find any around here. So yea, anywhere in the country, you have the right to roam where you want."

Me: "You try that in America and you have the right to get shot."


28) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 17mm, 2s, f/11, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer


So, I took the advice and left for a few hours. I found the creek I had heard and traveled up along it, seeing if there were any interesting waterfalls along the way. I came away with this shot after several attempts and compositions.




29) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 3s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

On the way down from the creek waterfall, I stopped to look around, and this was the view of Loch Lomond beneath and in front of me. Too bad the time of year yielded only the drab brown and barren hills seen here.




30) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 30s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, Topaz Clarity

I noticed a beautiful strip of green cutting through the rather drab undergrowth as viewed from above during my descent back. Upon closer inspection, it seemed to be a road covered entirely in moss. I have no way of knowing if it is actually an old Roman road (in actuality I suspect not ), but I was determined to get a shot of it. I started from the opposite shore, but it did nothing to capture the essence of it being a road and more dramatically, an old bridge over a stream. By the time I made it to the other bank, it was getting dark. Really dark, especially for a camera (by the time I left I was arguing with myself whether I should bring out the headlamp I had in my bag as I still had a little while to go back to the B&B through the forest).

I set up my framing, mounted the camera on the tripod, activated the 2s delay, and went straight for 30 seconds on the exposure. At one point while leaning back to see the LCD better (tripod was at its lowest level), I rolled backward, which scared the ever living crap out of me because had I continued to roll even so much as another foot (1/3 meter) further, I would have gone over the small cliff/ledge I was standing on.

I couldn't be more pleased with the result.




31) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 36mm, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

After leaving Loch Lomond, I took the bus to King's House, a famous hotel off the highway that marks a formal stop along the West Highland Way. Determined to get some hiking in, I went did my research and the section between King's House and Kinlochleven seemed the most arduous (namely because of the Devil's Staircase). The bus dropped me off right on the highway, and several hundred meters later, I was at the starting for for this section. It started slow, and then climbed pretty quickly - here's the view looking up and the people along the route as well.




32) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/125s, f/9, ISO 100, Handheld

The weather started to turn once we got above the low cloud ceiling.For reference, the second ground of hikers (in front of the hiker in the yellow jacket) was less than 15m away from me.




33) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/125s, f/9, ISO 100, Handheld

After arriving into Kinlochleven, the next morning I quickly departed for Glencoe, where this was taken (looking towards the Pass with the Pap behind me to my left for those that know the area). I honestly would have gone for the Pap (the "Pap of Glencoe," or a small rounded mountain that resembles a woman's breast, hence the old Scottish name of 'pap'), but I was still recovering from a knee injury and decided it would be wise not to. It wasn't the clearest day anyway, so no worries.




34) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 28mm, 1/125s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld

That evening, after retiring to my hostel for dinner, I encountered a group of three Canadians traveling through the area. We got to talking as we were eating in the community kitchen, and they invited me to tag alone with them the next day. We ended up driving first to Ballachulish, a small coastal town just south of Glencoe. Here they are doing a map check as I catch up to them after attempting some photos back in the forest.




35) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 34mm, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld

The town of Ballachulish from the trail we were hiking on.




36) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/60s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

While on the trail, we came across these moss covered ruins of what seemed to be a house with multiple rooms.





37) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/25s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Adjacent to the above ruins were these ruins. I regret not taking the time to be more deliberate and deploy my tripod, but they were waiting on me and I had already told them to continue on and that I'd catch up over 20 min before. But still, I'm pleased with this shot despite my realization that the DA 10-17 Fisheye would have been better for the enclosed space.





38) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1/60s, f/7.1, ISO 400, Handheld

Another set of ruins in the same area, this time I tried using the trees to create a natural framing of the image.




39) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 100, Handheld


A group portrait I took for them. It was a bit windy

Also, I found it funny that they asked "Are you sure we are in the picture? You aren't even looking at us."



40) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/1250s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

And my landscape version devoid of humans.




41) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/800s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This image was frankly one of the hardest images to take of the entire trip. We were driving through the Glencoe Pass (where the above two images and the below one was taken) and pulled off to the side of the road to get a closer look at this waterfall. The sun was just way too overpowering and I didn't have any filters (namely graduated ND filters) compatible with the DA 10-17 Fisheye (Google claims that none exist anyway). I think that all things considered and some heavy post processing (there's some digitally applied grad filters in LR to recover the cloud detail), this came out pretty well.



42) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

We stopped for lunch at the locally renowned Clachaig Inn, and because it was about 1400, it was completely empty. I asked if I could take pictures of the interior, and the staff said to have at it. So I deployed my trusty travel tripod and took about 30 shots. The following were what I felt were the best.




43) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1.6s, f/10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

Another of the interior, this time taken at the bar itself.




44) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

This time I shot using RAW HDR, but from a different angle.




45) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/640s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

I finally found the Highland Cow! How cool is he (she?) ?!




46) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Handheld

Another angle, but this time with the most adorable dwarf pony slightly behind it. Shetland Pony?




47) K-3, DA 10-17 Fisheye, 10mm, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer

A series of small waterfalls where the river merged just downstream of all three.




48) K-3, DA 10-17 Fisheye, 11mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

A fun shot - enjoying the view




49) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1.3s, f10, ISO 100, Tripod, 2s Timer, 6-stop ND Filter, Topaz Clarity

I would have loved this shot if the trees were bursting with green foliage...




50) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 19mm, 1/80s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

Way before I had stepped foot on Scottish soil, I had this type of shot envisioned - a rustic cabin/hut in the foreground with looming mountains in the background.



After leaving Glencoe, I was on my way to Oban, the "Gateway to the Islands" of Scotland. I left the hostel armed with the information that the bus would stop at around noon. Sure enough, the bus came...and kept going. Turns out the bus passes Glencoe on the only road heading to Oban, but doesn't stop. So now I have a 1 hour bus ride with no bus, and I was left to hitchhiking.

I parked myself and my gear on the side of the road, and because I didn't have a large piece of paper, I used the only "canvas" I could think of - my laptop! So I made a sign with Microsoft Paint and held up the laptop using my left hand, enthusiastic thumb pointing to the sky in my right. This was my sign:

Attachment 219887

After 45 min of no takers, it started to dawn on me that perhaps my desire to express my state of personal hygiene was a bit too forward and thus counter-productive to my cause. I edited it and came up with the following:

Attachment 219888

WIthin 10 min, a wonderful woman picked me up in her large tractor trailer and proceeded to chat my ear off and give me a guided tour of all the places we were passing along the scenic route. And a good thing to (regarding the within 10 min), my battery was getting pretty low, and I was resorting my putting my laptop in hibernate mode between each stream of cars

51) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 26mm, 1/100s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Part of my travels always at least incorporates the attempt to couchsurf, as I'm a big proponent of the idea and have been doing it since 2008 (my profile can be found here, since made a joint account for Jenny and I). I found a willing host in Oban, my next stop after Glencoe, and this was my first sight (he was not at home when I arrived) after climbing the massive hill to his house (it was originally a WWII lookout point overlooking the entire area on top of the mountain to watch the bay for U-Boats and Germany airplanes with a 3-man guard shift that rotated every hour). My first thought upon seeing this scene? "If this were Afghanistan, this would be REALLY bad," referencing a homemade explosives factory that produced the ubiquitous roadside bomb.

Then my next thought was..."Blood?"


52) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 50mm, 1/160s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Turns out they are used vegetable oil collected from the town's restaurants (i.e. the grease your fries, aka 'chips,' are boiled in), and that's how he heats his place using a stove his made himself that also has has a stone surface that allows for cooking (it's how he cooked us pasta and tea!). Also, the water is heated using pipes that run along the stove.

Ingenious, and the entire set-up and how he lived so self-sufficiently instantly reminded me of my grandfather. Regardless - he was a fascinating person to meet and he offered free accommodation by way of a couch to sleep on. I really, really enjoyed my time there with him.




53) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 16mm, 1/500s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Good morning, Oban! A beautiful sunrise from his house. His place commanded such an incredible view in all 360 degrees.



53a) Again, another unprocessed RAW so you can see the dynamic range of the K-3. This was pushed over 3.5 stops, and not a hint of banding. Incredible feat of sensor technology, undoubtedly.

Attachment 219890


54) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/640s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

Enjoying playing around with the beautiful day.



55) K-3, DA 10-17mm Fisheye, 10mm, 1/640s, f/8, ISO 100, Handheld

And now a serious shot, capturing the view of what I felt was a perfect place to pitch a tent. On the beach you can barely make out where some owners and their dogs are playing in the shallow water.





56) K-3, DFA 100mm Macro WR, 100mm, 1/640s, f/5.0, ISO 100, Handheld

This was a pretty interesting encounter - I was photographic this swan from afar when it came towards me to investigate who/what I was. I was a little concerned when the swan came within less than a meter of me - I thought it might attack me.



57) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 21mm, 1/60s, f/8.0, ISO 100, Handheld

A beautiful seaside house (town of Ganavan) - man I'd love to live there...




58) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 39mm, 1/100s, f/8.0, ISO 100, Handheld, Topaz Clarity
A couple watches the sunset and rain in the distance...




59) K-3, DA* 16-50mm, 39mm, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, Handheld, Topaz Clarity

Wouldn't you love to have her reading spot?



I really hope you enjoyed this photo series - I can't wait to return to Scotland and get to the places I had to cut from my trip in the interest of time - the Outer Hebrides, the Islands of Mull and Skye, and Loch Ness, and especially with Jenny by my side.

Additionally, if you have never come across a photo essay of mine before, I invite you to visit a few of the others I have compiled from my travels/adventures elsewhere:
They all follow the same photo essay style (including the Deployment series that I have had approved for a while now and just haven't gotten around to re-uploading...I know....I know....), which I am starting to realize might just be "my niche"...

Again, if you have any criticism, I welcome and encourage it to further hone my craft, both photographically and my prose.

Thanks again for stopping by!

-Heie
Great journey and spectacular images! Thanks for sharing journey and images.

09-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #24
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Heie, reading your stories with pictures is always a pleasure.
09-30-2014, 06:04 PM   #25
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How in the hell have I never responded to all your incredible comments? I was reading through them again and realized.....there's nothing from me after the initial post! For that I apologize, with only a legitimate excuse for the first two months or so because of the move that happened right after that trip and then Airborne School (which, yes....I got my wings ). Anyway - thank you all very much!

A few comments I wanted to address specifically:

QuoteOriginally posted by Aerlind Quote
Several things: 1) I now really want a K-3. Not that there's anything wrong with my K-r, but there are some things it just can't do. (Same goes for my car, actually. It's great, I love it, but it has its limits. But I digress.) 2) Absolutely beautiful images! I really enjoyed reading about your travels. 3) I really want to go to Scotland someday.
This was quite a while ago, so did you ever get a K-3? I've never used the K-r, but coming from using a K-30 (which the forums say is a big upgrade over the K-r), I can only imagine the difference after being used to 100% K-r images

Nonetheless, the K-r seems like a super capable camera....I continue to see stunning shots come from that machine

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Beautiful photos Alex! Thank you for sharing. Looks like Jenny has a little bit of patience, too, if she is willing to deal with photos all along the way...
Yea...in all the trips we've taken together, I've never heard her once complain about waiting for me to take pictures, sometimes up to an hour when I'm setting up a specific shot, which is just amazing. She has complained about my lack of pictures though. What I mean by that is I have come to be very selective in what images I capture and she'll get on my case for not taking any at times. "It doesn't have to be Nat Geo worthy....just take a damn picture for us to have, dammit!"

QuoteOriginally posted by Usuqa Quote
I was glad you manage to find time to visit me and my little family for a while, it was great to talk to someone just as passionate about pentax camera's as me.. well I guess you are even more so since I've been playing around with sigma lately *shame on me*. Anyway not only did you make me want a k3 (it really is like a turbo charged k5) this post has made me want to visit my own country... I have seen so little of it and I should make more of an effort to see more, Thank's again for visiting and glad you like the image we got of you while here, It was
Paul, can't say it enough - that was certainly one of the highlights of the entire trip, if not the highlight. And you should absolutely go visit! You have so many amazing locations that are mere day trips away! Very jealous of you for that

QuoteOriginally posted by NZUnicorn Quote
I will be in Edinburgh in July. I loved your images of the city, and am greatly looking forward to my visit. I also greatly enjoyed your images of the countryside. I found the bleakness in many of them, so well captured, to be a large part of the charm of that part of the country. I could easily feel the coolness in many of your scenes. Thanks so much for taking the time to publish these images here.
Hey! How was your visit?! Please post your images, I'd love to see what you came up with

And thank you

QuoteOriginally posted by PenPusher Quote
Nicely done, when you actually start looking at a place instead of just passing through, there are so many interesting things to do and see it always takes so much longer that you thought it would. It's 16 years since I was last there when I concentrated on the northern parts above Inverness, must go back, I seem to remember hiring a car from a place called "Sharp's Reliable Wrecks" just one thing to remember if you go to the north, there are not that many people there and petrol stations cane be 60-70 miles apart and usually hidden away somewhere. CD
Never made it north, unfortunately. Next time (whenever that is), that's the plan - north and the Outer Hebrides

QuoteOriginally posted by lukulele Quote
Wonderful Alex! New frontrunner for the bucket list. It appears that the last week of April., first couple of weeks in Europe is a superb time to visit? We were in Central Europe and the weather was terrific, one can stretch out. I also see the 16-50 predominates. Did you park the 18-135? I'm forwarding this to my wife at school this moment for inspiration.
Thank you! Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. But yes, it's a great time to visit Europe (hence why most of the world does ). And regarding the gear - I don't have an ND filter for the 62mm ring - just the 77mm (yes, I know I could have gotten a step-up ring). Also, I find the 16mm to be really, really valuable for landscape/travel use. I've got my eyes on the 16-85 (which, every time I think about it, I wish it was F4 constant ). And I've noticed that while the 18-135 is plenty sharp at F8 or so, if used deliberately (i.e. with a tripod), the DA* magic really starts to shine. As for parking the 18-135 - I didn't bring it with me (space was also a factor as I had planned to hike, so I chose to not bring both).

QuoteOriginally posted by dcmsox2004 Quote
brilliant series !! so many marvelous compositions... my uncle served in germany during the korean war, as a staff sergeant... let's just say he had a bit of fun... i've got a collection of ornate swizzle sticks from his many escapades..... thank you for your service.... greatly appreciated by yours truly, dave m
Thank you very much! Yea, not a day doesn't pass without missing Germany and just Europe in general. I did not come home with those type of souvenirs, though (unless you count beer krugs and a wife ).

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Thanks for sharing. I like the pictures, but more than that I like the stories behind the pictures. 41 is my favourite, but you have several gems here. I am sure they will bring back memories whenever you look at them, and for now you have given me a yearning to go to Scotland.
Much appreciated I have been starting to realize that perhaps the "photo essay" is really my niche And I'm glad you enjoyed that image (#41)! I worked so damn hard on it

QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
My wife and I are planning a 5 week vacation to Scotland next year. Our trip will be to Glasgow and Edinburgh but mainly the Outer Hebrides, Orkneys and the Shetlands. Having worked along side the British Army for the last 6 years I can almost understand some of the Scots. Your photos will not make the wait until our trip any easier; wonderful shots. For our trip the Hasselblad and Holgas will be heavily used and although I can take as long as I want at most places I will probably end up waiting for my wife to finish shooting. We also love cemetaries so the one in Glawsgow needs to be on our list Heie ManyThanks
Same as NZUnicorn - please post the images when you go - I've love to see them! And especially with such a kit you'll be humping around

QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
Heie, reading your stories with pictures is always a pleasure.
Same as my comment above - I really think the photo essay is more and more my "calling" if you will. Now if only I could get someone to pay me to travel and write/photograph for them

OH! And I also wanted to share this (since this image came out of this trip) - we got our first print for the house (I know....I know) because Jenny had been bugging me to get some for our bare walls. So, I asked her if the image of us overlooking Edinburgh would be good, and after getting her approval, I decided to go for gold - the largest print size that I could order from the partner labs with Zenfolio (where my prints can be ordered from). I went with the largest size to not only have a great "mantle photo" of us, but honestly I wanted to test how the K-3 would hold up to such a huge print, not only for my own curiosity, but to see if it would be worthwhile to offer the print that large for sale. In good conscience I would not be able to offer the image if I didn't know, so I bit the bullet, and not even a week later (!) it arrived:

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It needed two people to hold it it was so big:

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That's a 30x45 inch (76x114 cm) print. And Let me tell you - it looks abso-f'ing-lutely incredible!! At this size, it's approximately 133 dpi. Even from close up inspection, you can still make out the windows and which ones have blinds up/down. Unbelievable. I am now, if I wasn't before, 100% a believer in the power of the K-3. Just.....wow....

Anyway, wanted to share that with you all.

Once again - thank you all for the tremendous support, and my apologies for not getting back to you all right away.

-Heie

Last edited by Heie; 10-03-2014 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Typo :)
10-04-2014, 04:32 AM   #26
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Number 9 is the Governor's House for the old Calton jail before it moved a few miles West out of town, it was deemed to be sufficiently scenic to be retained unlike the rest of the prisoners accommodation.

Last edited by Parallax; 10-04-2014 at 11:52 AM.
10-04-2014, 08:48 AM   #27
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Heie, wild images. 40 and 58 are stunning. Great work!
10-04-2014, 10:41 AM   #28
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Great series. Thanks for sharing your photos and the stories that went along with them.!
10-04-2014, 12:53 PM   #29
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Absolutely beautiful!
02-26-2015, 03:51 PM   #30
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Thanks so much for the inspiration and preview. My wife and I are headed to Scotland in May. I'll be bringing the same K-3/Sirui combo, but with a DA 18-135mm lens only.
I really appreciate that you took the time to post your trip log on this forum. Many excellent photos too!

Steve
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