53 Places

Quinag is a mountain of three peaks Sail Gharbh (808m), Sail Ghorm (776m) and Spidean Coinich (764m), which makes them all “Corbetts”, between 2500 and 3000 feet. The mountain is the centrepiece of the John Muir Trust owned estate of 9140 acres (3699 hectares)


The Quinag Wildlife Project is a collaboration between John Muir Trust and Assynt Field Club, designed to bring together a multitude of historic wildlife records and continue with contemporary information.


But its also a way to celebrate purely aesthetic aspects of the place, which is where my photos come in.

Ordnance Survey maps show 53 named features (at the last count!) within the boundaries of the JMT Quinag estate, and I now have at least one photo of each location. Most of the names are in Gaelic, and will often have a meaning which relates to a description of the topography or something else which was once significant to the location. It is now hoped that these names can be translated too, which could add a bit more to our understanding of previous or historic landscape interpretation.


It’s taken quite a lot of walking to get this collection together! I’m fortunate to live nearby, and visit quite often, so I already had a lot of photos to include here. But I still had to do a lot more walking to complete it. And “completion” is really just a first-fix, as its likely that I’ll visit many of these places again and may be able to upgrade my initial collection.


This is the third photo-project I’ve done on and around Quinag, and I just love it!


With an undertaking like this, I think I need to be a bit flexible about what sort of masterpiece I might be able to create at each place. It often has to be “good enough” that the weather allows me to get there and take anything at all, so I try not to have too many expectations. My shooting style is often “opportunist” anyway, and I guess that’s a good thing in these circumstances!

There’s a saying that “failing to plan is planning to fail”, but sometimes the reverse can be true too. The first hurdle is getting there; achievement number one. Then finding an interesting view. Finally take a photo, and don’t mess it up! Expectations don’t feature in this process.


Some places are just amazing, and I promise myself to go back again. But sometimes I get to my location and just wonder why I’m there. Saobhaidh Mhor was one of those. The nearby burn of a similar name is fabulous, but this place is exactly……well, nothing really. I couldn’t see what to point the camera at; featureless. So then it might have been useful to have the Gaelic translation in advance, in case it relates to a detail that I overlooked.

Pressing the button: one point. Knowing where to stand before you press the button: ten points.


I am mindful of the purpose here. I try to use context in many of the photos; something representative too. So my “processing”also reflects this. I often use an element of High Dynamic Range technique, because I believe that you need to see what you’re looking at. Otherwise, the point can be missed.


Equipment is quite heavy, especially if you’re carrying it all day across rough terrain. Add to that, lunch, waterproofs, back-up extras etc. and the rucksack gets quite heavy. Before I even think of optional extras like a bottle of chilled white wine, a picnic blanket, plates and cutlery……. just kidding, (I haven’t got a picnic blanket).

So my camera kit is basic too. I use a decent digital camera, but only carry it with one lens, and if I make the wrong choice, I either live with the consequences or go back another day. Occasionally I’ll take a lightweight tripod, especially if I think I’d like to do a long exposure of moving water, but the more gear I pack, the less room there is for chocolate.

Now I’m over the finishing line!

These photos are a sample.

There are some more on my website, in a gallery for this collection, and there’s also an index of the locations.

Direct link: Quinag Index

4 Comments

  1. Inspiring! I haven’t been to Quinag – it looks wild and beautiful. I like your stream shots, and the mountain carefully framed by the gnarled tree.
    Are there any prints for sale?

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    1. Hi Steve, many thanks for your comments; Quinag is indeed a fabulous place!
      Yes, I can print any of these shots.
      Some are already available via the “shop” on my website:
      https://www.jacksonphotography.co.uk/
      My normal production method (for uncropped shots) is to print an area of 15×10 inches centrally onto a piece of 20×16 inch Hahnemuhle Fine Art paper, which can then be framed without needing a mount.
      So please feel free to have a browse and get in touch if I can help any further; direct email is chris@jacksonphotography.co.uk
      Best wishes,
      Chris

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  2. Absolutely stunning photos Chris. I am hoping to visit Assynt for the first time this summer (Covid permitting) and will certainly be looking out for some of your locations although I know any photographs I take won’t remotely approach yours. I really liked the comments about chocolate rather than a tripod. I am in my 60s with very bad shoulders and carrying my camera is about as much as I can managed – I usually have to leave the tripod at home so I am inspired by the shots you have taken here.
    Your comments will also inspire me to keep working at improving my Gaelic so that I can hopefully translate some of the landscape while I am there.

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    1. Thanks for your message Seonaid!
      Assynt, Coigach and so much of the west coast are just amazing; I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
      Other than chocolate, insect repellant will also be necessary, but then you probably know that already.

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