Jet Lag, A Powerful Tool for the Landscape Photographer

At least it is when it has you waking up an hour or two before sunrise. Which has been my experience since landing on this beautiful Island of Fair Isle.


As I mentioned, waking up early has been my routine since I arrived. But a couple things kept me from heading out for the morning golden hour. First, the light was good, but not great. But more importantly, I had no idea where I was going and what I might be shooting. Add to the fact that sunrises include hiking and setting up in almost complete darkness. And Fair Isle, and its stunning cliffs, demanded a bit of respect. At least from me they did. So I needed to scout locations during the daylight before attempting them at night, okay dusk.

But today was “the” day. My first “real” day of shooting. And because Fair Isle is nothing but coooperative the light was perfect. And yet again, I found myself pointing the camera at the stunning Fair Isle South Light just as the twilight was fading.

 South Light - Fair Isle South Light – Fair Isle

I took a bunch from this general location but this one and the panorama above were my favorites.

It was an almost completely clear sky and the colors as the twilight faded to pink were amazing. So I shifted gears and found some rocks that were well positioned for “portraits”.

 South Harbor - Fair Isle South Harbor – Fair Isle

 The Keels - Fair Isle The Keels – Fair Isle

I interrupted my normal routine of scouting in the afternoon, to visit the Fair Isle Museum and do a bit of shopping. Picked up a Fair Isle Kep (hat) from Hollie Shaw and some wool to take home for Laura from Kathy Coull.

The museum tour, thanks Dave, was fabulous and it’s a great museum for such a small island and they have done a fabulous job currating it.

Shopping was equally enjoyable, although very different from anything I’ve experience. No stores per say, you just go to the home of the talented craft person who’s wares you like to shop. Probably spent 45 minutes talking hats and dogs at Hollie’s and the and then another pleasant half hour get a brief history of Taatit Rugs from Kathy. All in all a pretty fabulous “tourist” afternoon.


Finally on Saturday, Day 5, I got some “proper” Scottish weather. The day started out with a pretty thick fog and looked like it would be a rainy grey day. But as the day wore on things cleared up quite a bit. So I took advantage of a ride to the north end thinking I’d scout Sheep Rock and the area around the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. But as it turned out, the light was pretty sweet and the action of the waves was creating interesting patterns that I could capture with long exposures.

This first shot is the view from South Gravel looking back to the north.

 Bu Ness - Fair Isle Bu Ness – Fair Isle

I don’t often get a chance to shoot an endless horizon and since the sky was pretty stunning I took advantage of the opportunity to shoot the vast expanse of the North Sea on an unusually calm day.

 North Sea from Fair Isle North Sea from Fair Isle

But what I came to scout / shoot was Sheep Rock. It took me quite a while to find and scramble my way down to a “suitable” location but this is a sweet, iconic feature of Fair Isle. As I was shooting I notice that the foam from breaking waves was drifting in a sweet pattern. With a bit of patience and a long exposure I finely captured the image I’d hope to get.

Although I’m starting feel more comfortable on this little island, I’ve only barely begun to scratch the surface exploring the beauty of Fair Isle. I imagine you could try for a lifetime and still find new beauty every day.

2 thoughts on “Jet Lag, A Powerful Tool for the Landscape Photographer

Add yours

  1. I think you should plan a return trip in the winter. I would love to see the highlands in all seasons. Your photos are as always, stunning.


    1. Thanks Sally. And Fall, Winter, Spring are definitely of interest to me. But… getting there in the off season is even harder and more risky. I’m not giving up, just need to noodle it a bit more. And maybe get one more “easy” trip under my belt first.


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