This will act as a document to my practice for the duration of my current course, the MA Communication Design, at Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen.
A Frosty Morning – 5th December 2018 
As the 1st foray into Wild Land Area 16, I chose the Coyles of Muick as a destination. Although the hills that constitute the Coyles are not themselves in the Wild Land Area, they are on the periphery, and offer a vantage point over the area.  
I bought a map of the area in advance of the visit, as I wanted to be able to work out where the borders of the area lay, although they are not marked on any OS map, I would be able to transcribe them from the Scottish Natural Heritage’s paperwork onto the hill walking maps I have.  
I would be walking to the location after being dropped off, so I was conscious that there would be a limit to the equipment that I would be able to carry. I opted to take both a digital and analogue camera. Opting for the Nikon D810 and the Mamiya C220. I would take a variety of lenses for the Nikon, to allow me to capture different types of images once there. I predominantly have opted for wide angled images of landscapes, looking to capture as much of the location in each image. This has seen me rely heavily on the Carl Zeiss Distagon 21mm f2.8. During some a talk last year by Colin Prior at the University, he discussed the tendency to go wider, whereas he preferred to use telephoto lenses to flatten the perspective of the mountains which would have the effect of creating visible layers of mountains. This is something I wanted to experiment with, so I took along a Tamron 70-200mm f2.8. I don’t have a longer telephoto, but I felt 200mm should give me an opportunity to experiment with a different approach to this landscape. I also opted to bring a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens, as I would be adopting a documentary approach to capture images of the trip and the experience, as well as landscape images. For this I wanted a lens that I could handhold, the telephoto is too heavy to be used extensively by hand, whereas the wide angled is a manual focus, which is better suited to tripod use. The small and light weight nature would allow me to shoot on the go, rather than having to stop and set up, as well as offering an alternative focal length that would bridge the two extremes. 
It was a frosty morning when I got dropped off, with the temperature sitting at –7*. The ground thankfully was dry underfoot rather than being icy. It didn’t prove to be too treacherous on the walk up and offered some interesting frozen puddles to capture the rings in the ice.  
f8, 1/60 Sec, ISO 400 @ 50mm. 
f8, 1/30 Sec, ISO 400 @ 50mm. 
Loch Ullachie is on the way, which has quite a nice clearing where there is a draining burn. This looks out towards a boathouse, past an island. My first thought was to capture images to stitch together for a panorama. However, when looking at the images later, I didn’t feel that there was enough to them to justify the need to make a panorama. I think that I had been seduced by looking at some stunning examples at the time, but actually the landscape itself didn’t necessarily lend itself to this process. 
f11, 1/20 Sec, ISO 64 @21mm 
I did encounter a slight issue with my map reading skills on my walk up, I have walked the route a few times in the past, however it has been a few years since the last time, and since then there has been some tree felling in the area. This has resulted in there being additional paths appear through the forest. There is a section where the path bends round the hill, and there is now a second path off it, which due to the apparent frequency of its use by the foresters, looks similar to that of the existing route. I had quite a challenge deciding on the route to take, although I managed to work out the correct option. This is something that is quite common place in the area, and feeds into some of the questions that I was exploring within the project, with the impact of man on the landscape, and how we shape areas around our use. The path that I was taking, although now part of a recognised walk, would have also arisen from land management, and then became a walk as a by-product. I do think that this is an important point to accept, that regardless of my belief in whether certain types of land management are a positive thing, without land management throughout the ages I would not have access to the areas I wish to visit, or at least these areas would be more difficult to access and potentially less well documented.  
On my walk out to the Coyles of Muick I came across a tree felling area, which I wanted to document, this area, which was most likely commercial forest, which is then being cut down, has a dystopian look to it. It was out of sight from all bar those who would be venturing into the hills, which as not a particularly accessible walk, is not likely to be huge numbers each year. The sight in my mind was one of devastation, with the trees felled and trunks removed and the rest left discarded. This feeling of devastation was further enforced by a mist descending on the hills. I felt that standing in the middle of the felled area, which was like a column cut into the hillside, that I was engulfed by this destruction. I wondered if this would a sight similar to that of a battlefield with corpses of these trees left where they lay, with the valuables picked bare.  
f11, 1/60 Sec, ISO 400 @ 21mm. 
f11, 1/30 Sec, ISO 400 @ 21mm. 
Although I think that the first image works ok for the feeling I was hoping to encapsulate, this could have been improved with a change of lens. The wide angle I opted for, opens the scene up giving a sense of the scale of the devastation that I witnessed, however I think that opting for something that gave an impression of a claustrophobic feeling, may have in hindsight a stronger result. I do think that if I had a drone that this could lend itself to a view from above, as it would give a different perspective, which would show it in context with its surroundings, giving a stark contrast between the path area I was walking and the area of the felling.  
Shortly afterwards I came to the first of the hills at the Coyles, unfortunately after getting to the top of this one, the mist had descended further, and I realised that I would not be able to continue, as the route would be too dangerous. It was quite a sight, as I could barely see a hand on front of me at this point.  
f11, 1/30 Sec, ISO 400 @ 50mm. 
f11, 1/30 Sec, ISO 400 @ 50mm. 
The cairn gave me a good finishing point to the extent of the walk, and I find the RAW files of it quite interesting. These images haven’t been edited yet. Normally my process is an attempt to recreate the colours and vibrancy that I witnessed during the scene. This is something that is subjective, as a photograph is a representation of the moment as I saw, yet the vibrancy is something from my eyes, and not necessarily recreated through the lens. My editing attempts are biased with my memory of what it looked like and impacted by the time that has elapsed after shooting. However, in these images, the RAW files have a look and feel to them that closely mirrors my memories of the location. It was dull, grey and offered little salvation.   
The walk back became a bit treacherous with the moisture from the mist making the ground underfoot slippy, particularly on some of the steeper sections of the path. I did fall once, but ‘thankfully’ struck my back on the rock and not the camera bag. Walking back into the treeline however offered some of the best views for the trip, with the mist mixing with the trees giving the area a surreal quality.  
f8, 1/30 Sec, ISO 400 @ 135mm. 
There is something to this image that brings a bit of a shiver down my spine. There is an element of familiarity as I know the area well that it is shot of, and I was comfortable in my location. However, the mist is so extensive that the landscape seems to be emerging or disappearing into it.  
I think that this is the type of image that I am in some ways had hoped to capture when I saw the mist develop. I feel that there is an element of being influenced by the type of images I would like to view rather than necessarily what fits with the project. I think that there is a relevance to the project, as although the Scottish Natural Heritage did not count weather within the factors that they were assessing each area on the grounds of, weather fronts do transform the accessibility of the landscape. Using the criteria that the SNH use: 
Perceived ‘naturalness’ of the land cover. 
Ruggedness of terrain. 
Remoteness from public roads, ferries or railway stations. 
Visible lack of buildings, roads, pylons and other modern artefacts.  
In the mist point 1 becomes difficult to judge, and other than the slight path in the centre of the image, there is little to suggest that the land cover isn’t natural. The terrain itself does not change yet the perception of the ruggedness can be increased as the mist descends as paths become more difficult to make out, and the ground becomes more difficult to traverse with the ground become icy or wet. The land appears more remote, as without the sound of traffic there would be little way of telling if this was near any road or trainline. This particular location was still a fair distance from the road, and during my walk I came across no-one, and in general there were few sounds. I kept a note on my phone of all the sounds I heard during the 5-6 hour walk: 
The crunch of frost under boots. 
Bird song hidden in the trees. 
The tear of a chainsaw in the distance. 
The rumble of a plane overhead. 
The snap of twigs. 
The creak of branches and trunks swaying in the wind. 
The gentle pitter/patter of misty rain on my jacket. 
An eerie enveloping silence. 
The gurgle of a burn. 
A dog barking. 
Other than the occasional click of my shutter, this was all I heard all day, although there are a few man-made elements within these sounds, there was little to make me think that this space didn’t tick off each of the criteria. With further investigations in the future, possibly this assessment will change as I have more to compare it to.  
On a different note, I came away with 4 digital images in which the edits made it into my ongoing portfolio. I am not sure if these will stay in the portfolio for the long run, as upon reflection I think that 2 off these 4 are stronger than the others. However, this will depend on the suitability for the portfolio as a wider entity. These images are currently all a subtler colour palette than the images of the past, from seascapes and some of the images of Loch Kinnord in late spring and early summer.  These vibrant images are likely to be sacrificed from the collection as I feel that the saturation in them gives them an element of unreality or ‘falseness’ that I want to move away from. Part of this may be the editing of the images, utilising a high dynamic range approach which is something that due to the over saturation of images that have a filter applied to mirror this look on social media that is now became jarring to me viewing them.  
There is also a roll and a half of Ilford HP5+ 400 iso 120 film that I shot on the Mamiya C220 camera, during this walk. I haven’t developed the images yet, which is something I will be looking to do shortly, and afterwards I can see if the resulting images change my perceptions of the landscape against the criteria outlined by SNH’s study. 
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