Hebridean Reflections

As I sit on the ferry from Tarbert on the island of Harris, as I make my way back to Skye, I’m taking the opportunity to write this blog post, I’ve also had a chance to reflect on the last two weeks in this beautiful part of the world. By the time I get back home, I’ll have driven 1,640 miles, made four ferry crossings and stayed in three separate locations. My workshop group also departed this morning after spending the last 5 days travelling around the Outer Hebrides, visiting some stunning locations and then spending our evenings enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the Harris Hotel.

 Seilebost Beach at Sunset

Seilebost Beach at Sunset

It’s currently sunny, but we’ve already had rain and hail showers this morning. The cold weather has just arrived, quite different from the milder weather with frequent showers and largely grey skies of the last week or so. However, contrary to much popular belief, these are exactly the conditions that suit my style of landscape photography. I’ll talk more about this in a future blog, so look out for that!
 
With more than 9 hours driving ahead of me, it’s a long way to travel, but so worth it if you want to experience some of the best beaches and coastline in the world. However, I’m looking forward to a break and downloading my images from the last two weeks. I believe I’ve taken some great images, which I plan to use to illustrate an article on the LEE Pro Glass filters.
 
A couple of years ago, the Harris Distillery opened its doors for the first time. This is a social enterprise involving the local community and a real credit to those involved in its inception and subsequent construction. Initially employing 10 people, it now employs over 30. While they wait for the first batch of whisky to be ready, apparently at least 3 or 4 years from its creation, they developed their own gin called surprisingly enough Harris Gin, which has been a runaway success.

 Salt Flats, Northton, Harris

Salt Flats, Northton, Harris

You see, it’s not just the photographic opportunities that attract me to places like Harris, but the whole sense that one gets of a small community, one with friendly and welcoming people. According to the last census, the population of Harris was only 1,916 people, around half of what it was at the previous census. I suppose many of the younger people leave to go to university and often don’t return. This is a real issue for these island communities, where the permanent population are often replaced by second home owners, which are usually only occupied during the ‘summer'"‘ months.

I think we as photographers have a responsibility to not just visit such places, take our pictures and leave, but to understand the place and try in our small way to support the local community. So, it was quite a challenge as you can imagine to buy some more Harris Gin, not to mention another Harris Tweed waistcoat. So the next time you see me, I’ll probably be fairly inebriated, but looking rather dapper in tweed!
 
So until next time, keep exposing! 

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