Adventures in the Assynt (part 1)

Spring time on Scotland was a bit of a scorcher, well…relatively speaking that is. Helen Stephens was scheduled to come up for a shoot but an opportunity arose that meant that I could attend a PhotoClassics workshop – Art Nude in the Landscape in which Helen was participating as a model. A happy happenstance, so Helen came up for a couple of days before going up to the Lochinver area. It worked rather well as we had a good couple of days hanging out, with lunch at the V&A and general silliness…which our norm! This also meant we could travel up together, we left early in the morning as I wanted to take advantage of the good weather to take some landscapes or wildlife on the way up. It had been a while since I’d been up that way, I used to travel to Inverness regularly when I was working. We stopped of at Perth for fuel and snacks, cuz like…….snacks are important!

Now the A9 isn’t the place for landscapes and wildlife so we battered on til we got to Ullapool, where we stopped for a break and more snacks!. We also blagged our way into the Ferry Inn without buying any booze just to use the loo…as you do! We had a wee walk around and ended up in the ‘Hillwalking’ shop, where I picked up a bargain. We caught this landscape from outside the Ferry Inn, a pub I highly recommend.

Ullapool – Adventures in the Assynt

The weather was roasting for April and had been for several days, but of course that was bound to change soon. In the meantime we made the most of it and slowly meandered up to Ardvreck Castle near Inchnadamph taking landscapes on the way before the workshop started.

Castle Ardvreck

We were staying at Inchnadamph Hotel and when we got there we were just 5 mins before Keira Lavelle, Rachelle Summers and Scarlot Rose arrived. And of course Howard and Karen Kennedy who were running the workshop. It was a real delight to meet old faces and new ones too.

Once we got settled in and relaxed, Howard ran through the workshop details and some presentations to start us of, all very well organised. The afternoon was wearing on a little and it was decided that we would go a reccy to a nearby location. Stupidly I took my little bridge camera thinking that this was just a simple ‘look see’, I should have known better and taken my usual camera as once we saw the location it was ideal for a full nude shoot. In saying that the little Canon SX50 did a fairly decent job considering. No sooner had we had a look at the location when Keira decided to go for it and it turned into a fantastic wee shoot around the waterfall.

The Sadness of Moonlight – Keira Lavelle (pinhole style)
Moon Child – Keira Lavelle
Summoning the Wolf Within – Keira Lavelle
Call of the Wild – Keira Lavelle

Not to be outdone, Scarlot and Rachelle gleefully joined in, Helen was having a snooze at the Hotel. So it wasn’t long before we got some fabulous shots with all three models. Having three talented top class models makes it easy to get good images especially when you are ad libbing and adapting to the situation/location.

Waterfall Naiads
The Naiads of Assynt – Rachelle Summers, Scarlot Rose, Keira Lavelle
The Fate of Cyane – Rachelle Summers, Scarlot Rose and Keira Lavelle

The little camera did alright as I managed to get a couple of FIAP awards and acceptances out of these images. I have to say it’s no substitute for a large sensor DSLR though.

In the Evening we went for a light painting session near Lochinver (ish), a bit of a trek and an adventure to find the right spot. Tripods, headlamps, slow shutter speeds etc etc…..loads of fun, and exercise.

Scarlot Rose, Rachelle Summers, Helen Stephens and Keira Lavelle

Then bed for an early start in the morning, a 5am wake up call and a drive in the dark to catch the morning light. On the way we saw a huge amount of deer coming down from the hills to graze and drink by the lochside. Sadly the weather had turned and the morning light became morning mist and a cold wind with it. We had to wait for the light to get as good as it can be and for supplies for the models, such as hot soup, towel and blankets.

There was limited time before the models got too cold to work, so plans were worked out beforehand. The stones were like ice and the bog they posed in sucked the heat right out of you very rapidly.

Bog Monsters
Devoured by Life – Keira Lavelle and Helen Stephens

A quick wash and some hot soup for the ladies and we were heading back for a well earned breakfast…and a shower for Keira and Helen who were just covered in slimy bog goo!

After Breakfast more shooty shenanigans in the Mountains, details in Part 2

‘Art Nude in the Landscape’ Workshops are run by Photoclassic/Howard Kennedy, you can find more details at

They run well organised workshops throughout the year and I highly recommend checking them out.

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