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You can’t beat the spectacle of a good sunset! I once read that you should look at each sunset as if it’s your last, but someone else said that’s rubbish – what you should be doing is trying to see more sunsets! That was one of our aims on our autumn 2020 trip to Scotland, with another aim to try and come away with some good photos. The trouble is, sunsets can be awkward little beggars to capture.
Obvious as it is, one of the main ingredients of a good sunset is the light, combined with the clouds and a good background, and those elements don’t always line up – literally! In 2019, we had a great display over An Teallach from Fain near Dundonnell, but 1½ years later the scene was quite different.
A bit of cloud works wonders in a sunset, giving the light something to play with – however, on the 2020 trip, there was more than enough cloud over An Teallach, and it wasn’t taking any prisoners. It was certainly a good night for viewing the mountains from a distance rather than close up.
The slightest possibility of catching a good sunset in a photograph occupies many an hour on our trips, especially when there is a good bit of coast or mountain as a background. What’s more, it’s another chance for Border Collie ‘Mist’ to check out all the local scents whilst I’m busy checking f-stops and exposure times (don’t worry, just some of the arcane practices that photographers get up to).
Sometimes is nice just to be able to witness the end of another day as it slowly slips away. We had gone to Camas nan Geall at Ardnamurchan in search of sea eagles – ten years earlier, we had watched one patrolling over the bay for about half an hour but didn’t have a camera. This time, I was ready for an eagle pic, but it was a no-show by the big bird – the changing light as the day disappeared was good compensation though.
Lochbuie on Mull is another location we returned to in 2020. The cloud out to sea raised hopes for a dramatic light show, but as the sun dipped over the horizon, the cloud decided to follow in the same direction. Then suddenly, the focus of the action shifted to the strange cloud formation to the east, which was catching the colour from the disappearing sun. (Hint – if you’re watching a sunset, keep watching the rest of the sky as well!)
At Ettrick on the Isle of Bute, we had most of the ingredients for a good show – it’s a bonus when there’s a last sighting of the sun as it disappears, but a few moody-looking clouds made a great projection screen for the changing colours. But my all-time favourite for sunsets was the one we saw in 2017 at Elgol – what’s more, those colours are genuine! As the man said, ‘see more sunsets’.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock – images all from the September/October 2020 trip except where another date is given.