Winter Photography in the Cairngorms National Park
26th February 2015
I spent a brilliant 4 days a couple of weeks ago up in the Cairngorms with friends staying in the Highland resort of Aviemore. This trip was mainly to catch up with friends and ski at Cairngorm Mountain but I did manage to get the camera out on a couple of occasions to capture the beautiful snowy highland winter landscape. I have visited the Cairngorms on only one occasion previously as so to visit in full the snow conditions was a great experience. The conditions running up to the trip looked quite wild with the mountain shut and lots of snow falling continuously shutting many of the local roads. In the days before our trip the weather changed so when we arrived we were greeted by huge piles of fresh snow by the roadside matched with bright blue skies and moderate temperatures.
On the first night of the trip soon after arriving I made a quick trip up the ski road past Coylumbridge up to the frozen Loch Morlich, parking was a little difficult as the car parks were covered in a foot of snow but after managing to find a roadside space I made my way to the shoreline to capture the beautiful highland sunset. The lights was incredibly bright and warm catching the peaks of the Cairngorm Mountain range, the sun set was quick spectacular but difficult to capture due to the huge range of brightness levels. After shooting the sunset the afterglow on the snowy mountains was an incredible sight with the last of the days light capturing the peaks and giving a real warm glow to the whole scene. The view across the loch is one of my favourites having visited on previous occasions but never has the light been as incredible as this evening, a real treat after a long 8 hour journey! Across the loch is a great view of the Natural Retreats Cairngorm Mountain Ski area along with the impressive peaks of Cairn Lochan, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairn Gorm and Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.
Day 2 included a visited to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre along with a snowy walk through the Rothiemurchus Forest around the cross country ski trails and up to the nearby Glenmore Lodge. I managed a few snap shots through out the afternoon of the beautiful forest in full winter conditions, the trees were looking spectacular covered in snow and ice with all kinds of details glistening in the sunlight.
After an intensive sledging session at the nearby bowl near to Bathaich Fionndag the afternoon light turned to evening glow and I was able to take the opportunity to capture the pine trees catching the golden sidelight looking down the valley towards the Creagan Gorm, Meall a Bhuachaille & Craiggowrie mountain peaks. The mountain light in Scotland is incredibly clear and differs from the often misty and hazy light experienced back at home in the Peak District.
On the third day of the trip we had a great walk through the Abernethy forest near to Loch Garten. The loch was mostly frozen over but due to the increased temperature it had begun to thaw leaving a mix of reflective ice and snow on top of the ice allowing a unique combinations of reflections. The sun was out and a beautiful day meant that the cold waters of the loch looked almost tropical reflecting an amazing array of blues and greens in the water. I tried to capture the views as naturally as possible as the strong lighting made it difficult to capture the depth of the colours. We continued our walk to up past the also frozen Loch Mallachie, the last time I visited this Loch the weather was very overcast so to visit in the beautiful winter conditions was a real treat.
You can view photos from my previous trip to the Cairngorms on my blog > Cairngorm Photography Map, alternatively I have uploaded my best images from Scotland in my Scotland Photography Gallery
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in UK Landscape and Seascape photography.
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By matt: good stuff mate - hoping for a trip up there soon myself!