Pictures by Walter

A View With Every Picture


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Cats and Dogs – with a Difference

Everybody like Awe Photos of cats and dogs at play. I know I do and I have two cats Felix and Loki.  No folks this is not a blog about them :).  I took (what is now-a-days) an older generation DSLR fitted with a 18-200 zoom and  backup 150-500 zoom, the camera came out in May 2009 , fitted with a 15.1 Megapixel sensor, with me, when Susan and I had a day out at the park. The camera is, of course, a Canon 500D, one of my 4 canon cameras, the others being 50D, 60D and the 5DmkII all pretty long in the tooth compared to today’s digital marvels.  Yet they are just as good at taking an image as they ever were.

The cats and dogs I refer to may be seen at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kincraig, Scotland Wikipedia describes it:

The Highland Wildlife Park is a 105-hectare safari park and zoo near Kingussie, Highland, Scotland. The park is located within the Cairngorms National Park. Wikipedia

We had four objects on this visit, see:

  1. Lynx and Kittens
  2. Tigers
  3. Wolves
  4. Snow Leopards

In fact we had bonus sights on this visit.

First of all was a bonus – every other time we have visited the safari park the Arctic Fox have been asleep, curled up nose to tail and in the land of nod.  This time one was very frisky and they other… You guessed it sleepy.

(1) Arctic Fox

A stroll up the hill brought us to the stunning Snow Leopard

(2) Snow Leopard

On our way to see the Northern Lynx and hopefully the kittens we spotted another elusive creature – the Wolverine

(3) Wolverine

First time we saw them out – I was surprised to see one but to see two!

(4) Northern Lynx Kitten

Another one of the list – We got lucky not only seeing the kittens but the Adults as well. (See Flickr Album).  A stroll back down hill took us to the Amur Tigers, which had just been fed

(5) Amur Tiger

(6) European Grey Wolf

Last but not least

(7) Male Polar Bear

Click on Image below to see Flickr Album of Visit

Click on image to full Album


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20170724 – Stroll Around The Loch

Livingston, formerly Livingston New Town, is situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh and easy to get from west and east.  Being sited next to the M8 and the A71 gives Livingston good road connections to North, South East and west.  Linlithgow (Historic Town) is the other side of the Bathgate Hills and is approx 30 minute drive from my home.

St Michael’s Parish Church

(1) St Katherine’s Aisle Window

Churches dedicated to St Michael have traditionally been placed on high ground and St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow, is no exception. Built on the rise between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch, anywhere else this large church would command instant attention over a wide area. But here it shares the stage with its larger neighbour, Linlithgow Palace, which lies immediately to its north.

(1)  St Katherine’s Aisle Window – Technical details: Canon 500D,  f4.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 28 mm,  Shutter 1/40th sec ISO 100

(2) The Choir Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

 

Stroll Around Linlithgow Loch

A circular walk 2.25 miles around Linlithgow Loch is a nice way to while away some time.  Dependant on how you treat the walk it can take 30 minutes for joggers to an hour for the stroller, even more if you stop to enjoy the wildlife and views etc.  Feeling somewhat housebound Susan and I decided to go feed the swans and ducks – taking seed not bread, and my camera.

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f85, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 100

 

Swans, Ducks etc.

The loch is well known for the water fowl, ducks and swans.  Whilst used to humans around them they are still untamed wild birds, and if you get too close you get one warning, especially from a mute swan.

(4) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

As we walk around the loch the terrain changes to a wilder less maintained landscape.  This of course allows the wild flowers to bloom and prosper much to the delight of the bugs, butterflies, moths and of course THE flower of Scotland – The Thistle.

(5) Bee and Thistle

(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Sigma 150-500mm Zoom @ 500mm,  Shutter 1/840th sec ISO 200

Royal Ruins – Linlithgow Palace

As we walk around the loch the ruins of the once Royal Place of the Stuarts attract the eye.  Birthplace of the last Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart the ill fated Queen.  James V before he died is reported to have said “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (meaning “It began with a girl and it will end with a girl”).

(6) Cross of St Michael’s and Linlithgow Palace Ruins

(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 100 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 125

Gallery

Click on image for Gallery

 


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20170423 – Dawyck Botanic Garden

We Talk to The Trees

After our visit to the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh we travelled to Stobo and Dawyck Botanic Garden.  As their web site states:

“Dawyck is truly one of the world’s finest arboreta. Seasonal displays of abundant exotic and native plants provide a breathtaking backdrop of colour throughout the year. The Garden also offers an award-winning visitor centre.”

Visit Scotland has this to say on its site “Dawyck Botanic Garden is home to one of Scotland’s finest tree collections including some of Britain’s oldest and tallest trees.  The 65-acre five star Garden offers woodland and burnside walks and is renowned for its seasonal displays of snowdrops, bluebells, Himalayan poppies, rhododendrons, azaleas and autumn colour”.

With that in mind we went on the David Douglas trail:

Dawyck House is not part of the Garden and is not open to the public

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f6.3, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 140 mm,  Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 200

Wood carving of David Douglas looking towards a “Douglas Fir”

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f11, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 200

 

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f5.6, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 92 mm,  Shutter 1/1600th sec ISO 200

A host of….

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f16, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 110 mm,  Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 200

 

Gallery

 


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20170402 – Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Spring  Sprung – Flowers Bloomed

I like photography and try various aspects of the hobby.  I’m better at some aspects than others.  I’m not a people photographer, street photographer I am not, I prefer landscapes, animals, birds and plants.  We visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh at least twice a year.  My one problem is I forget the name of the plants.

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f6.3, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 140 mm,  Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 200

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f8, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 170 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 200

 

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f8, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 170 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 200

Technical details:  Nikon D7100,  f8, Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom @ 270 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 200

 

Gallery

 


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20170313 – Zoo Visit

Zoo Visit

We hoped to catch a glimpse of the Bears, Fishing Cat and of course Lions

On our visit to Five Sisters Zoo in January  we enjoyed looking at the 4 lions enjoying the sun (Sun Cats) as well as the Lemurs and meerkats.  On this visit we hoped to see the bears as they came out of their winter hibernation and we were in luck.  The challenge of zoo photography is to attempt to get natural shots without including any signs of cages/fence etc.  Not easy by any means.  However, I do enjoy the challenge and am very pleased when I get the shot right.

African Grey Parrot

 

African Grey Parrot: taken through glass.

 

Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), f6.3, , Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 58mm, Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 200

 

 

Brown Bear – one of three rescued bears

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Bear… Taken though Double Link Fences.

Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), f6.3, , Sigma 150-500 mm Zoom @ 500mm, Shutter 1/500th sec ISO 800

 

Ex Circus Lion

 

 

 

 

 

Let Sleeping Cats Lie….

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 400mm, f6.3 ISO 400 shutter 1/500th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

Artic Wolf

 

Artic Wolf – Howling Time

As we walked around the zoo we heard the wolf howl – one of the wolves was in fine vocal voice that day.

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 190mm, f6.3 ISO 200 shutter 1/200th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

 

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

Fishing Cat

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

Gallery

 


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20170212 – Feeding Our Souls

Feeding Our Souls

I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs that Susan has a love of the mountains.  She is an ex hill walker and has climbed various Munros, Corbetts etc.  Me.. I’m strictly sea level.  Susan was getting me to do some hill walking before her bout with cancer.  I know she misses her walks in the Pentland Hills (not far from where we live).  I can feel when her spirits begin to dip and all I have to say is Road Trip Glencoe.  Before I know it she has grabbed her boots, camera gear etc before I get my camera gear and car keys.  Funny for a lass from Manchester she has a deep love of Scotland’s people and countryside.  I uttered those fatal words on Sunday 12 February 2017 and zoom.. we were away.  Dependent on time of year, and weather of course, we have our favourite stopping off places when we do this drive but more of that later.  However, I’m going to digress here – the term Feeding The Soul came from Susan herself and was the tile of her blog. She let her blog lapse in 2012 but recommenced in 2014 with a blog title “Don’t Stop Believing” in September 2014.  A year later she was fighting a bigger battle and she did not stop believing.

Back to our feeding the soul trip:

Loch Lubnaig 3rd January 2015

 

Loch Lubnaig is one of our stopping places and at the first car park going north.  The loch is usually so still here it gives a mirror reflection (see image taken on right). Alas it was not so on this trip.  Our next stop is at the Golden Larches Cafe for a very welcome cup of coffee before our next regular stop Loch Tulla Viewpoint.  However, on this trip we stopped south of  Bridge of Orchy to photograph the Horseshoe Curve Viaduct near Auch.

Technical details:  Nikon D5300, Nikon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 22mm, f16, Shutter 1/5 sec ISO 100

 

 

Horseshoe Curve Viaduct

 

The Horseshoe curve… North of Tyndrum, South of Bridge of Orchy.

The railway builders hadn’t the money for a viaduct across the mouth of a broad valley. The result is the famous ‘horseshoe curve’, where the line enters, circles & leaves the glen at the foot of Beinn Dorain. We have crossed it on the train trip to Fort William.  Susan and her friend Debbie attempted to walk to Bridge of Orchy from Tyndrum but ran out of time.

Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 29mm, f7.1, Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 200

Loch Tulla Viewpoint (A82)

On leaving Bridge of Orchy the A82 crosses over a small river by means of a single span steel bridge – which I have always taken as the start of a long climb with horseshoe bends raising to Rannoch Moor.  At the end of the first bend there sits a large car park with views of Loch Tulla and surrounding area.  During Summer and good weather it is a popular stopping place, especially with tourist busses.

 

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 43mm, f9 ISO 200 shutter 1/500th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Lochan na h-Achlaise

Lochan na h-Achlaise and Loch Ba are separated by the A82 road to Fort William. The lone trees and rocks with snow-capped peaks in the distance create one of the most atmospheric landscapes in Scotland.

Lochan na h-Achlaise

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 80mm f9 ISO 200 shutter 1/320th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

 

The Great Shepard

Buachaille Etive Mor

I suspect that this may be one of the most photographed Munro in Scotland and Walkhighlands appear to agree “Buachaille Etive Mor is one of the best known and loved of all the Munro peaks. The epic view of the mountain from the main A82 road makes it appear quite unassailable and is one of the most photographed sites and sights in Scotland.  I also think it would be very hard to get a picture that has not been done before.

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 29mm  f7.1 ISO 200 shutter 1/120th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

Feeding Her Soul…

Susan Feeding Her Soul

Doing this catch up blog reminds me we are overdue for another visit to Glencoe:)

 

Gallery

The road goes on.. To Loch Etive

 


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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.