I wonder what lurks in the scary Scottish Pine forest…
It’s been a very quiet month here on the blog. I have a good excuse, though. I’ve been on vacation. After a very busy summer shooting, flying my little Cessna, teaching workshops, editing photos and writing my X SERIES UNLIMITED eBook, which I’m pleased to say has been selling like crazy, I decided to take some time off.
And what better way to spend a few weeks away from the computer than by going back to Scotland for more bike riding and photography?
I had so much fun in Scotland during our spring trip that I decided to head back there for Round 2, which meant even more bikepacking, and of course, more whisky.
Even though we pedaled around quite a few areas of the country during the May trip, as unfortunate luck would have it, we never found ourselves near any distilleries. So, for this trip, I dedicated myself to time and routes that would take us right past a number of Scotch distilleries.
During this two-week foray, we headed up the Speyside Way and visited the Tomatin, Tomintoul, The Glenlivet, Aberlour, The Macallan, Cardhu, and Dalwhinne distilleries. We toured a few traditional production houses where they make this wonderful golden elixir, or as it’s called in the Gaelic language, “uisge beatha,” or, “the water of life, “and sampled a wide range of whiskies from a number of different regions of Scotland.
A novice scotch drinker before the May trip, I’ve learned so much about how it’s produced and how the specific elements in the process create such varied flavors from strong and smoky to smooth and sweet. Let’s just say that I have a new expensive hobby. 🙂
Compared to May, we spent more time during this trip cycling and touring off-road, spending a significant portion of our trip on trails and land rover tracks through the Highlands. With its large swaths of open land and it’s wilderness access laws, Scotland is an absolutely ideal location for backcountry biking, hiking and walking.
We also got a chance to spend more time with our friend Andy Toop, who owns a great bikepacking and packrafting shop called Backcountry Scot in Aviemore. And we did an overnight bike trip with our two new cycling friends, Huw and Annie. Huw Oliver is a great young adventure photographer and writer. Check out his article about adventuring in the Outer Hebrides Islands on Bikepacking.com.
Annie Le is an outdoor instructor and has done a number of great adventures as well. (You can see here photos here.)
On the photography side, I went even lighter with my Fujifilm camera setup, only going with a single X-T2 body, and three small primes, the XF18mm f/2, XF35mm f/2 and the XF50mm f/2. This ultra compact trio gave me a wide variety of creative options and made things very easy, since I only had three focal lengths.
Although I so like the longer Fuji lenses, I loved the freedom of being so unencumbered my my camera gear and I’m very happy with the photos I shot over there. For most of my scenes, I found myself using either the 18 or the 50, which make sense, because I love going wide and I love using a short telephoto to compress my backgrounds slightly, which helps the subject stand out more prominently.
Overall, we got a lot of fantastic riding done in just two weeks, camped in some beautiful places in the Scottish backcountry, and lived the true Scottish experience with considerably wetter weather than we had in May. Our love for this awesome country only grew and I’m already thinking about when to go back for a third time.
I’ll be posting more Scotland pictures from both trips in the coming weeks since I still haven’t even shared very many from the May trip. I guess summer got away from me, which is exactly why I took this vacation.
After Scotland, we flew to Minnesota and spent a week up on the North Shore of Lake Superior, riding bikes, shooting waterfalls and enjoying a brilliant display of peaking fall foliage. Watch for those pictures in the coming weeks as well.
I’m excited to share the fact that my blog was recently selected as one of the Top 100 Travel Photography Blogs on the web.
In a list compiled by Feedspot earlier this week of the “Best Travel Photography Blogs,” my blog was ranked at Number 8 among widely read and influential blogs as Brendan’s Adventures, Anne McKinnell Photography, Wanders & Wonders, Finding the Universe and Trey Ratcliff’s Stuck in Customs website.
Once again, this is a great honor for me, as this is the second time I’ve been included with a Top 100 ranking. Last year, my blog was selected as one of the Best 100 Photography Blogs on the Planet. It’s also timely, as I recently led my first international photo walk in Edinburgh, Scotland back in May of this year.
According to Feedspot’s website, these rankings are compiled based on a combination of factors, including Google reputation, social media influence, post quality and consistency and by expert review by their editorial team.
As with my previous ranking, I’m honored to have made this list and have my blog stand alongside such inspirational and educational websites, especially since I don’t have near the traffic as some of the sites on this list.
This tells me that my site was chosen and ranked on content more than numbers. This makes me feel awesome, as I work very hard to provide my readers with a mix of photography tips, gear reviews, photo essays and insight about creativity and photography method.
Through the past 10 years of writing this blog, I have developed a true love for sharing my own passion, experience and knowledge of photography with other shooters.
Each time I sit down and write another post, my hope is that the imagery and articles I share help teach and inspire people to get out there and explore the world with their cameras. Having received two of these Top 100 rankings, it seems as if my message is resonating with you guys!
Of course, there would be no Top 100 rankings without you, so I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who has ever spent time here on my blog. Thanks so much for your support!
I’ve been back from Scotland for over two months now, and I realized that I’ve only share shared a few images from that trip here on the blog. That’s patly due to the fact that my posting frequency dropped quite … Continue reading →
On Sunday, May 21, at the tail end of my recent Scotland trip, I led a photo hike in Edinburgh with my friend Lauren MacNeish. A travel and landscape photographer from the area, Lauren helped organize and promote the event, and she was … Continue reading →
I just spent 3 weeks traveling around Scotland on my bike, and now that I’m back home sitting at my desk, I wish I were still over there, pedaling around The Highlands in the wind, listening to everyone’s accent and thinking about my … Continue reading →