The Quiraing is at the top of the Trotternish ridge on the Isle of Skye and is an essential location on our Isle of Skye Photography Workshop. It’s an amazing barren landscape formed by a massive landslip and is caught in striking winter light. Skye, Scottish Islands, Scotland UK. Click on the Image of you’d like to Book a Space on our next one!


Every November I run two workshops on the fabulous Isle of Skye; one from Saturday to Wednesday; a very quick changeover and another from the Wednesday to Saturday. I never know whether to advertise them as 4/3 day workshops or 5/4 day workshops as the arithmetic never adds up!

This is an account of my recent one; some great weather and at times too many clear skies but we still managed to get some really great images as it’s really a question of adapting your shooting style and locations to suit available conditions.

So with thanks to Robert, Lesley, Gary, Chris, Jon and Keith for your company and your images. Robert, Lesley, Gary and Chris were with me over the first 4 days and Jon and Keith for the remainder of the trip. So here’s my account …… does contain highlights rather than every single detail; we saw lots of places and if I described everything it would take all week!

For my Isle of Skye workshops, I always stay at Allt Dearg, a cottage in an amazing location on the River Sligachan at the foot of the Black Cuillins and a perfect base for exploring the area, being pretty central to the island…..and it’s a surprisingly big island!

Header image: The view of The Quiraing in Autumn Light taken on our workshop

A great image showing the cottage from Sligachan by Jon Burgess.

Each evening was spent productively, with processing and reviewing images, food, wine and beer!

So, here’s a review of the 7 days spent on this fabulous island from dawn until dusk and into the night! If you’d like to download a copy of this blog please Click Here!
My Isle of Skye Photography WorkshopAbout Skye

The Isle of Skye is an island of 1,656km2 situated off the west coast of Scotland, separated from Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland by the Skye Bridge which spans Loch Alsh. It’s over 50 miles from north to south so it’s a fair size island! It is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles. The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, it has an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior. Portree is the largest town on the island

As you can see, Allt Dearg is right in the middle; so not only is it a glorious location, it’s a great central location for exploring the island with a camera.

Isle of Skye Photography Workshop Day 1 Saturday 17th November – from Glencoe to Allt Dearg Cottage
Glencoe to Eilean Donan Castle

Before travelling to Skye, the group met at Glencoe (at a café undergoing refurbishment so there was coffee in the car park)! There were clear blue skies, so not exactly perfect for drama but it was great to be out and we captured some lovely scenic images. We visited the iconic spot at Glen Etive and the reed beds facing Buachaille Etive Mor, with reflections which looked great under the blue skies!

Chris photographing the landscape at Glencoe

On the way to the cottage we stopped off firstly at Glencoe then at at Eilean Donan Castle at Kyle of Lochalsh for sunset. Clear skies and not much colour in the sky I’m afraid but lovely warm weather and great to be out of the cars. We stopped at the Glen Etive waterfalls and then at the reedbeds in front of Buachaille Etive Mor. We then made our way north to Eilean Donan for sunset; the castle did light up a bright red colour with (I assume seasonal!) artificial lighting. We then stopped off to stock up on supplies at Broadford before heading to the cottage.

Isle of Skye Photography Workshops with Nigel Forster. Trip November 2018 images. Contact me for me for more details

Red light at Eilean Donan Castle – all done in the best possible taste!

Allt Dearg Cottage at Night

After dinner we popped outside to capture the night sky from the cottage – a beautiful clear night, albeit lit by the moon which diluted the effect of the stars a little. We photographed both the cottage and the views of the Cuillin Mountains from the cottage. The moonlight, while diluting the stars did light up the sligachan valley perfectly

Robert and Gary preparing to shoot the cottage in the dark!

With the moonlight (nearly a full moon), the night was surprisingly bright and we were able to capture images at much lower ISO readings (and therefore higher quality) than normal.

The Red Cuillins on a clear night. The River Sligachan in central Isle of Skye below the Cuillin mountains. Skye, Scottish Islands, Scotland UK

Allt Dearg Cottage is at a stunning location at the base of the Cuillin Mountains. I base my photography workshops here. The River Sligachan in central Isle of Skye below the Cuillin mountains.

Isle of Skye Photography Workshop Day Sunday 18th November – from Glencoe to Allt Dearg Cottage

Given the clear skies we decided to explore the local area on the first full day on Skye. I always keep my workshops totally flexible and respond to weather conditions. There’s always something to learn! We alos spent an hour or so over lunchtime going over one of my presentations on composition.

The River Sligachan

To mention this very breifly, more clear skies and waterfalls are really difficult in harsh light so I revisited this area later in the week in much better conditions. But the morning was spent along the river near the cottage and the afternoon at the Fairy Pools. The best images were in the still water just off the road to Dunvegan with the backdrop of the mountains.

Me encouraging Robert to use foreground in the image; there was a nice flow of water here

Gary photographing the reflections with a backdrop of the Black Cuillins

When photographing reflections, think carefully about the height the image is taken from. Too high and you won’t draw attention to the foreground, not all the backdrop will appear in the reflection and you’ll see too much of the body of water. Too low and clutter in the water will dominate the image and unbalance the background. The rule is experiment with height.

Walking up to the Fairy Pools under more clear skies!

After a lunch break at the cottage we drove round to the Fairy Pools which are a few miles west at Glenbrittle off the road to Dunvegan. In truth little water in them but what a warm afternoon with the temparature reaching 15C!! In the right conditions it has a great backdrop.

On the way back we caught the moon rising from Carbost with the last of the evening light.. There was a great red glow over the Red Cuilins, which really brought out why they are so named!

Later on we returned to the graveyard at Carbost to make the most of the night sky. There was plenty of foreground and some great dark skies. The moonlight was also great for lighting up the gravestones. You’ll need a tripod and the widest angle lens you have to capture the sky.

Carbost Graveyard at Night, Isle of Sjye, Skye, Scottish Islands, Scotland UK

Day 3 Monday 19th November The Coral Beach, Dunvegan and Neist Point

Another day of very very clear skies, so we set off in the search for simple compositions

The Coral Beach and Dunvegan

Robert setting up the camera above the Coral Beach

The Coral Beach is a few miles north of Dunvegan in the west of the island. It has a beautiful sweeping bay with a white coral beach at the end. We spent some time down at the beach then returned to Dunvegan for a compositional exercise around lunchtime. I try to include at least one of these on all my workshops as it encourages clients to look for simple compositions in everyday subjects; it’s both observational and selective and encourages you to think in abstract form rather than subject matter. Here’s a selection of ‘Repeating Pattern images from Dunvegan.

Chris photographing the coastline around Neist Point

One of Robert’s ICM images

Robert came up with some excellent examples of Intentional Camera Movment (ICM for short). It’s very unpredictable technique but can produce some really interesting results. It involves deliberately moving the camera during the exposure and is often best at around 15th – 1/4 second. This is an image of the field patterns above Neist Point.

Neist Point and The Lighthouse

We then continued on to Neist Point, one of the islands iconic places for the rest of the afternoon until sunset. The road to Neist Point also offered some opportunities of the surrounding landscape. The low sunlight cast some great shadows across the landscape. Cloud would have been nice though!

Neist Point is popular! If you don’t like other photographers don’t go at sunset!

On Skye you can’t guarantee the weather or great light but the one thing that you can guarantee is crowds at Neist Point. We went there as it was convenient for the days locations and I calculated that my group wouldn’t get the chance to revisit the location however there wasn’t much light or colour in the sky. Personally I far prefer this location in the morning as the light is from above over the whoile bay and not just begind the headland and lighthouse. See the image below; it was taken on a previous trip under very different skies!

Dramatic Light over Neist Point on the Isle of Skye, Scottish Isles: One of my previous images at Neist Point – backlighting under stormy skies lights up the entire bay. Come earlier in the day with this type of weather conditions and avoid the crowds – you’re unlikely to find anyone else there and get some wonderful images!

Light rays over the Isle of Rum

The sunset produced very little but did at the last minute produce some nice light rays over the Isle of Rum to the west. The image does tell a bit of a lie as it looks as though there was an interesting sky with dark clouds. As you can see from the other images this was not actually the case. Who says the photo never lies but it is a good advert foir cropping!

After leaving Neist Point we were held up by a roadblock for a few minutes…….we then made out way back to the cottage to review the days images and eat dinner with our resident chef Robert!

Day 4 Tuesday 20th November – The Quiraing and Elgol

By far our most exciting day with some great lighting condiitions and what a morning to get up in time for first light at The Quiraing! In the afternoon we went to the south of the island to the amazing location of Elgol for some more great light!

The Quiraing

The Quiraing is in the northern part of the island and is a justfyingly iconic place! It’s at the northern end of the Trotternish Ridge which extends from north to south in the peninsula north from Portree. During the short days you pretty much have to get up here at dawn as later in the day the sun drops behind the ridge, casting everything in shadow.

Lesley capturing a beautiful sunrise at the Quiraing.

Dawn light over the Quiraing with beautiful warm light perfectly captured by Lesley

Make sure you use a graduated filter when pointing the camera aginast the light; the sky will blow out highlights if you don’t!

Lesley also directed the camera the other way to catch the golden light on the other side of the ridge. It’s a great location whichever way you look!

The group looking at the light hitting the hills over the Trotternish Ridge

Morning light below the Quiraing

On the way back down towards Staffin, the great light continued for a while; here it lit up the golden grass with a backdrop of the hills

We briefly stopped off at Kilt Rock on the way back southwards; this shot was taken on Gary’s new phone. It’s captured the water movement –  it’s amazing what they can do these days!.

From Broadford to Elgol

Elgol is another iconic location but this time on the south of the island. It’s 15 miles west from Broadford along a mainly single track winding road. We drove past some reed beds with a backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains and bumped into another (quite large!) photography group at the same spot. But the reflections were superb.

The ruin of Cill Chriosd Church and graveyard on the way to Elgol. It’s on the right about 4 miles down the road. A great place for night photography I think!

Gary photographing the reed beds on the road to Elgol

Details of the reed beds at Loch Cill Chriosd on the road to Elgol captured by Lesley

Skye is great for pools, lochs and reedbeds and still conditions suit them perfectly. Try to catch the sun on the reeds against a background in shadow

We then drove on down to Elgol. It’s a tiny fishing village with some fabulous views with a backdrop of the Cuillins dropping straight into the sea. Evening light is perfect for this location as it lights up the front of the mountains in sharp releif to the backdrop.

Robert photographing the fabulous light from Elgol

Gary captured the gorgeous red evening light!

When the light faded we drove back to the cottage for another session looking at the days images with more wine and food from Robert!

Day 5 Wednesday 21st November – 4 Day Group Changeover Day!

Wednesday is the day that I spend between groups; the morning with my fiirst group and the afternoon with my second group with a quick tidy up of the cottage in between! A couple of the group decided to see more on the return trip and start the long drive home and leave soon after breakfast so we all decided to travel down to the Skye Bridge to capture dawn light. In the event it was a little flat so after a group hug we waved our goodbyes……..

Group hug at the Skye Bridge!

So, after waving my group goodbye, for me it was back to the cottage to tidy up and do d]some paperwork, but I captured some nice red light on the Red Cuillins from Broadford

The Red Cuillins from Broadford – some great light as the clouds gathered.

Day 5 Wednesday 21st November – Group 2 Elgol again!

Group 2 was simply Jon, Keith and myself! Both Jon and Keith have been on several previous trips so I know them both well (Keith on the Snowdonia one only 2 weeks before)! We met briefly at the cottage and then decided to drive back to Elgol as the light looked really promising. It proved a strange afternoon of contrasts though; it looked as though it as going to be completely clear with little cloud to excite us, a dark cloud then came across and completely obliterated the views and finally just before sunset we had a moment of red light and glow of the sun as it went down!

A long exposure just before the rain came down at Elgol: We all had a go at long exposure photography, which smoothed out both water and sky. The above image is one of mine.

The setting sun at Elgol – it was impossible to keep the rain off the camera lens but it wa strangely effective

Day 6 Thursday 22nd November – Return to Quiraing and the north of the island

As the Quiraing is a ‘must do’ location, I returned with my second group. There were much clearer skies this time so perhaps the opportunities were more limited. However it gave us the chance to practise some compositional ideas and we got a lovely sunrise at Loch Fada on the way up the island!

Jon preparing for his shot at Loch Fada

Loch Fada sits below the Trotternish Ridge near the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

Loch Fada is a popular spot for the first view of the Old Man of Stoff because of its reflection on a still morning. Jon captured the reflection perfectly.

Loch Fada image by Jon Burgess

The Quiraing – return visit!

There was very different light to the previous visit to the Quiraing but this kind of bright light is great for ‘receding forms’. If you shoot against the light you can see that the hills lighten as you get further away from the camera. See how the shapes change in relation to each other as we changed position.

A set of images of receding hills at Quiraing by Keith – explore locations and see the shift in forms

Keith’s shot to the top of the Quiraing captured the scale of the cliffs.

The North of the Island from Tulm Bay to Kilmuir Church

We spent to rest of the day with a very productive tour around the north of the island, taking the long route around to Uig via the remains of Duntulm Castle

Jon photographing Tulm Bay below Duntulm Castle. 

As we had another lovely but rather clear day I thought I’d add an image of Tulm Bay from my previous visit in February – very different conditions!

A downpour over Tulm Bay on my previous trip!

Kilmuir Church

Kilmuir Church is a great spot little used by other photographers (in fact in 5 visits I’ve never seen another group or photographer there so a bit of a hidden gem! We drove here from Tulm Bay and got some great evening light! We explored the area with long exposures and sunset shots. The usual angle on buildings is around 60:30 but always explore

Keith captured a striking evening light shot that captured the remoteness of the area.

A long exposure shot with the cloud streaks drawing the eye towards the church ruin with golden evening light (one of mine!)

Day 7 Friday 23rd November – Sligachan and Talisker Bay

A great day for our last full day with some terrific images at both Sligachan (our morning location)  and Talisker Bay (where we headed in the afternoon). Too late for the distillery but a great day nonetheless

River Sligachan around the cottage

It was perfect weather for our morning shoot at Sligachan, dry with overcast skies but with plenty of cloud detail to work with. If shooting against the light you’ll either need a graduated filter or bracket images.

IKeith capturing the River Sligachan with a backdrop of the Black Cuillin Mountains

Try using a polarising filter with this kind of shot. Under grey skies you’ll fine a lot of glare on reflective surfaces which it will reduce. However it’ll also increase contrast so experiment by rotating the filter.

There are a couple of great spots along the river, both very close to the cottage; one upstream and one downstream.  Both are locations where the angle of the river turns slightly so you get a waterfall or rapids with the camera facing the Black Cuillins.

The River Sligachan in central Isle of Skye below the Cuillin mountains.This one is downstream from the cottage and captures the backdrop perfectly. There wasn’t a massive amount of water in the river but sufficient to capture the atmosphere

The image above is further up the valley and the use of a polarising filter really brings out the colour of the water in the stream. We loved the flow of foreground water to the right, curving and flowing around the rock in the foreground.

Mountain pools or pools in peat bogs are often great places to take photographs from. They are usually clearly delineated dips in the ground which form clear shapes and are therefore great locations to practise composition with mountain backdrops. Use walking boots though – it’s wet!

Keith studying the composition from the peat bog pools.

Talisker Bay

We made our way down to Talisker Bay. I was initially intending to head across to Neist Point but ran short of time so headed there instead – and what a wise choice it was! We were treated to a red sun dropping below the clouds and some great wave and sand patterns at Talisker Bay. Thank goodness we resisted the temptation of the distillery! It’s about a mile flat walk from the car and well worth the walk!

Jon created a starburst effect from the setting sun at Talisker Bay

Sunset at Talisker Bay. Talisker is the location of the famous distillery; Isle of Skye, Scotland

A couple of shots at Talisker Bay – a great place to catch the sunset

….and finally Day 8 Saturday 24th November – Old Man of Storr

Keith decided to make a quick getaway with a long drive back on the Saturday morning. So, having sorted and cleaned the cottage on the Friday night, Jon and I headed up to Old Man of Storr, one of Skye’s other iconic locations; it’s fair to say that it has quite a few of them! To get to the viewpoints (there are a few) you’ll need to be prepared for a pretty steep climb of around 400m ascent from the road. If you want to get to the ridge above Storr it’s about another 200m up and steeper but well worth it! We parked the car at the bottom and went up pretty quickly for 2 (albeit quite fit!) 60 year olds!!

Jon approaching the viewpoint above Old Man of Storr before dawn (OK I asked him to pose for this!)

Jon’s classic shot of Old Man of Storr. Few clouds but some beautiful warm light.

We walked back down and once driving back down to sort cars out we parted and drove back down south. Not before I found that I left my entire Fuji camera system in the cottage though – thanks Deirdre (cottage owner) for posting it back to me!!

Finally, thanks to Robert, Lesley, Gary, Chris, Jon and Keith and Paul for booking onto the workshop – it was great to have your company and it was great to part with some great images. Thanks to our expert chef Robert, without whom we might have gone hungry (while I’m an OK photographer I’m no cook……).

I stopped off at Rannoch Moor on the way South and caught some gorgeous light. This one had great cloud formations and golden light.

Finally, thanks to Robert, Lesley, Gary, Chris, Jon and Keith for booking onto the workshop – it was great to have your company for the week!
If you’d like to Book on next years Isle of Skye Photography Workshop it’s going to be on the same week in November (Saturday 16th – Saturday 23rd November) with 4/5 day and 3/4 day version (and they are proper long days from dawn to dusk with night shoots as well!). BOOK THE WORKSHOP HERE I may also run a spring one but will keep the website up to date! Please Contact Me for further details.
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