Pictures by Walter

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Memory Of Edinburgh Zoo 2007

I  had enjoyed using my Pentax *istDS (rather an unfortunate model name) until I became aware that my images were no longer sharp.  It took me a while to discover the cause and it was a very slight tremble in my left hand. There was no loss of sharpness at fast shutter speed, only on the lower speeds.  For Christmas 2006 I was given a Pentax K10D with the latest 10 megapixel sensor and in body anti shake also acting as a sensor cleaner.  Along with the K10D I was given a Tamron 28-300 zoom lens.

I soon got used to the idiosyncrises of the camera/lens combination – one being the fact that the anti-shake does not cut in until you half press the shutter button,but you could take a preview shot to check all was working as it should.  One other oddity was the way the camera/sensor loved Red – every image with red was saturated and had to be toned down.  I used to be a member of Edinburgh Zoological Society i.e. I bought an annual pass for the zoo and made good use of the pass to frequently visit the zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie in the Highlands.  I was more than pleased with the results of shooting through glass with the Pentax K10D as there was a row of enclosures (now long gone) which housed Leopards, Panthers, Cheetahs and Pallas Cats.  A wooden barrier extend from the front so you could not get close up to the glass though many tried.

Panther

The panther used to hide in his/her den under a fallen tree, the Leopard would sit up high and occasionally patrol around it’s enclosure. I mention this as I had come across a set of images taken in July 2007 using the Pentax K10D and the Tamron 28-300 zoom along with many other shots.  I have re-edited the images using the latest Lightroom CC. and they are shown in the video below.

The video comprises of 29 images taken at the zoo in 2007.  The majority of these animals no longer have abode at Edinburgh Zoo, which since the “Gift” of a Panda sold off many animals including the Leopards, Cheetahs and Panthers.  The Amur Tigers were transferred to Highland Park Zoo along with the Red Panda and Polar bear. On my last visit to the zoo I found that the Cat row had been left abandoned and left to decay.  Over the years the zoo has shrunk re exhibits – whilst the Amur Tigers have a large new enclosure/building I feel the loss of the other cats.

 

 


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The Jacobite – A Memory from 2005

from Amazon for reference purpose)

During recent data housekeeping I came across a memory from July 2005.  Earlier that year I had bought my first ever Digital Single Reflex Camera (DSLR). It was a Pentax  *istDS, a 6 megapixel DSLR as a step up transition rom Pentax SLRs.  As a relatively new digital camera user I refrained from using RAW images.  on 31st July 2005 Susan (at the time a work college)  took a trip on one of the most scenic railway routes in Scotland.  Long before “Harry Potter” and flying Blue Ford Anglias the line from Fort William to Mallaig was famous as the “Fish Line”. Built to facilitate the transfer of the fish from the busy port of Mallaig to all points south.  In its

Ex-LNER K1 – 62005 “Lord of the Isles”

heyday in the 1960’s Mallaig could bost to be the busiest fishing port in Scotland.  However all that changed in the 1970s. Overfishing led to depleted stocks and a  four year ban on herring fishing was enforced.  The railway line was in constant threat of closure despite the importance of the new tourism industry.  In 1984 the then Scotrail introduced a steam hauled train from Fort William to Mallaig – which continues to this day as “The Jacobite” under private operator West Coast Railway. However, the whole route known as the West Highland Railway covers from Glasgow to Mallaig or Oban.  This was our first outing as a couple and we left Livingston by Car at 6 am a two hour drive to Fort William driving across Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe to Fort William.  If my memory is correct we had not booked a seat on this train, we learnt from that and have since always booked seats.  We were lucky as there was two seats available and we got on.  Mind you we spent most of the time on the outward journey standing the the space between the coaches, with me popping me head out with camera getting pictures of the scenery as we made our way to Mallaig.  My only disappoint was the fact that the engine, ex British Rail, 62005, K1 loco was travelling Tender First.  Still I would get shots on the return of the train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct loco first. Travelling behind a steam hauled train adds to the adventure  – the scenery is always superb in good weather and travel by normal train is a lot cheaper than by steam hauled, but a lot less romantic.  I took 193 photos on that trip and relied on the camera to produce the results.  As I said at the beginning I rediscovered the images and edited them using Lightroom CC using the skills I have gained in 13 years.  I selected 39 images to make into a small photo video omitting 1 image, that of my companion on that day – she is now my partner and this is dedicated to her Susan – it was a perfect day to start our adventures together.


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20170120 – Road Trip Killin

Visit to Killin

We usually visit Killin at least twice a year January and May.  It is a historic village and the ancient burial ground of  Clan McNab  is accessed via the old Killin Bridge.  Wikipedia has this to say about the village “The west end of the village is magnificently sited around the scenic Falls of Dochart, the main street leading down towards the Loch at the confluence of the rivers Dochart and Lochay. The falls are crossed by a narrow, multi-arched stone bridge carrying the main A827 road into Killin.”  The charm of Killin is the villagers and their community spirit.  As I said we go at least twice a year, January to see their pantomime and May to support the Killin Komedy Festival.  This trip was also a proving trip for my recent acquisition a new Pentax K-1 full frame DSLR.

Loch Lubnaig

Our route takes us past Loch Lubnaig – a very picturesque loch.  The loch has a remarkable mirror reflection, provide the conditions are right.  It is one of our regular stops:

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 43mm f10 ISO 100 shutter 1/13th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Susan – My Partner

I like this picture as it shows Susan’s remarkable outlook at life.  Hard to believe she is recovering from a serious fight with cancer and at the time of this picture was still waiting the all clear. ( Which she got later in the year)

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 80mm f10 ISO 3200 shutter 1/125th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Falls of Dochart

I suspect one of the most photographed water falls. I have several pictures of the falls in various states this was a first as I managed to cross to teh centre without getting my shoes wet!  The main channel flow was that abated.

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 29mm f9 ISO 3200 shutter 1/40th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Gallery

 


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20170104 – Sun Cats

Visit to Five Sisters Zoo

A New Year dawned and we felt enlivened.  The long slog from 2015 to the end of 2016 was over and the news at the end of 2016 was optimistic.  I am making a few changes to the format of this blog.  No long-winded text, just 1 or 2 images with comment and a link to the album on Flickr.  I’m not touting for business so I select the picture(s) that pleased me or/and Susan.  I would welcome feedback – provided it is constructive and not abusive.

Two images from our visit to Five Sisters Zoo, Polbeth, West Lothian on the 4th January 2017.  The sun was shining and a bright future beckoned so what better way to celebrate than visit the ex-circus lions at the Zoo.  It is often hit or miss when one goes to the zoo, in all likeliness the animal you wish to photograph fail to show, this time the four lions were out on their hill.  I had decided not to lug round all my camera lenses (mistake) and opted to use my Pentax K-50 with fitted with a Sigma 18-270 mm zoom.

The Sun Cat

Technical details – Pentax K-50 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 210mm f5.6 ISO 400 shutter 1/250th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Kings of the Hill

Technical details – Pentax K-50 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 210mm f5 ISO 100 shutter 1/200th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Gallery

Sun Worshiper

 


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Our Holiday Adventure 2016 Part 2

As mentioned in part 1 we had 4 main objects to meet on this holiday they were:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway (See part 1)
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

Dolphins – The Moray Forth Dolphins are an established tourist attraction and attract large crowds.  Most dolphin watchers head for Chanonry Point.  During the high season there is restricted parking facilities.  However we had arranged for a trip on the Gemini Explorer. a converted ex-lifeboat. This was a much better option for us. On our trip around the Firth we were lucky to see a super pod of 26 dolphins (several pods working together hunting fish).  We were surrounded by the dolphins, who provided a natural exuberant display including bow riding. (Click on image left or here to see gallery)

Applecross Pass -Bealach na Ba :  Bealach na Ba, meaning pass of the cattle, was used in earlier days to drive cattle from Applecross and surrounding settlements to other parts of the Highlands, it was not part of the historic Drove Routes. – Susan and Sid often suggested that I should drive the route.  It now forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist route. It is not an easy drive and I considered the options.  I wished to enjoy the sights and knew if I drove I would be too busy watching the road over the pass and miss the sights.  The solution take a bus tour and let the bus driver do te driving and I could enjoy the sights with Susan.  Highland Express Tours Inverness had such a tour which would take all day.  Gary (our driver) really made the trip special along with the views as well 🙂 . (Click image on right or here to view gallery)

White Tailed Sea Eagle: Having declined to drive the route to Bealach na Ba I found myself driving part of the route as we headed for Island of Skye via the Skye Bridge.  Our destination was Kylerhea and the Glenelg Ferry. I should have realised that the trip would not be a simple one or straight forward.  We crossed the bridge and after about 1 mile we turned left off the main road heading down a single (with passing places) dirt track road with some ineradicable sights and heart stopping drops.  Thanks fully it is not a busy route or else congestion would occur.  It is also not a route for the faint of heart.  We sat for 2 hours waiting and watching the sea eagle both of us feeling privileged to see such a magnificent bird.  We opted to take the ferry across to Glen Elg and complete a circular tour back to our holiday caravan HQ.  The drive up and down Glen Elg was worth doing on its own right.  There are two view point where one can get photos of the “Five Sisters” of Kintail.  As we made our way back to base we reflected on this trip which so happened to have completed three of our four objects.  As for the fourth object I could tell that our 14 days in the heart of Scotland had re-invigorated my partner. Whilst her energy and stamina were still below par there was once again that zest for life.  She once told me that it was the simple things that brought her great pleasure but it was the mountains of Scotland that fed her soul. We had many adventures (or trips out if you prefer) that helped to restore the zest.  One was a simple walk from the centre of Inverness to North Kessock across the Kessock bridge. Outings to Dingwall, Glen Ord Distillery (need to be 18 0r over to visit web site)(purchased a 12 year old and 18 year old bottle of Glen Ord Singleton.  Inverewe Gardens, Loch Maree, Rogie Falls, Plodda Falls Boat trips from Inverness and Gairloch Harbour.  The longest trip was to Orkney which included a ferry crossing the longest non ferry trip was the Wester Ross Coastal Trail.

It has taken me a year to update this blog.  There are many reason for the delay and hopefully now equilibrium has been achieved I’ll have time to catch up to this years adventures with my Partner Susan.  As for the blog I have not finished with 2016 yet :).  For those who took the time to read through this rambling blog my thanks for taking the time I hope you enjoyed it and followed the links to the albums.  Even to a city bred boy the highlands and islands of Scotland cast a magical spell and bring peace to my soul.

 


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201608 – On our Holiday August 2016

I was tempted to use that old essay title used by many of us on return to school after any holiday break – “What I did on Holiday”. In a sense this was a very special holiday in many ways.  I had watch my partner battle her cancer, facing decisions on treatment and her battle to regain strength.  At the start of 2016 we planned this holiday and we had set three objects to attain:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

21/08/2016Strathspey Railway:  We boarded the steam hauled train at Aviemore Station.  It was hauled by Ex-LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46512 “E. V. Cooper, Engineer” for our return trip to Broomhill. (Click here on image right to view album).  We arrived at the caravan unpacked and had dinner.  The journey had tired out Susan, so a quiet night sitting down at the old ferry dock in North Kessock.

 

Following day 22/08/2016 – Two Castles and A Canal:  An early start of the day saw us heading east towards the Moray Firth in search of Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle. It was not until I entered the basement of the castle did it dawn on me that I had previously been to this castle. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and garden, alas we could not tackle maze as it was being renovated. From Cawdor we headed east for a long drive to our next historic castle Urquhart. (Urquhart Gallery) This was a tactical error due to the site being a tourist attraction with nearly all the tour busses stopping to drop off their passengers.  In fact it was too much for the both of us – so we cut short our visit and headed for Fort Augustus – see Gallery.

A Special Trip – Orkney: Susan was invited by a drama friend to visit Orkney I was included in the invite.  We were sailing from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope by the first ferry of the day.  We left our caravan at 5 am on a very foggy Monday morning.  I had set up TomTom (SatNav) to give me directions.  Even as I type this I shudder at that drive up via unclassified roads, single track (to me farm tracks) lanes as well as the main roads.  I’ll give the programmers of the SatNav their due – the device got me straight there in less time I would have taken using just the main roads.  Never again I tell you.  I turned left and came face to face with a family of deer fine in clear weather but in fog!.  We did get to Orkney and Susan friends made us welcome and took us round the tourists spots like the Italian Chapel, Skara Bra etc. (Click here or on image at left to view Orkney Gallery)