Highlands in Autumn

Photo collection > Stuart Hackshaw > Brighton

Detailing a journey to the Scottish Highlands, this collection illustrates the area's dramatic landscapes.

Photography has been something I’ve been interested in for a long time, but until recently I’d never pursued it as a hobby. My background and main passion is for filmmaking and storytelling.


In early 2013 I travelled to the Scottish Highlands for a small film shoot in and around the Isle of Skye. I was only there for a few days but fell in love with the landscape and remember flying back home, after a rather hectic shoot, inspired into planning the beginnings of a return trip, but this time for stills photography. This was when my eagerness and appetite for photography really set in.

Its well known that in filmmaking there’s a lot of rushing, and a certain level of pressure, so the idea of going back and sitting within some of those incredible landscapes with the freedom to simply search for the most pleasing frame and wait for the right moment was something I liked the sound of.


Below is some of the resulting photography, shot on my Canon 60D.

In my backpack, along with my 60D and a tripod, I had the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8, Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6, Nikon 100mm f2.8, Nikon 24mm f2.8, a number of ND’s and a polariser filter.

My general process for landscapes has been to take multiple exposures, particularly when brightness has been at its most extreme, and then blend or comp together in post where needed to get the best of both. I typically shoot relatively open with a shutter of at least 100. I also have a taste for shooting landscapes in portrait from time to time.

My initial intentions were to do black and white landscape photography; this was due to my admiration for Sebastião Salgado and his wonderful, high contrast black and white images. However I happened to time my trip with the changing colours of autumn, so for some photos the vibrancy was too impressive to ignore, though I still love the look of many pictures in black and white. In some cases I have put up both, so you can see my dilemma and judge for yourself what you prefer.

Taking this particular photo (above and middle) made for my most enjoyable or at least memorable time on the Isle of Skye and it came just after one of my lowest points. I was staying at a backpackers hostel, for which I had had positive experiences of in the past, however on this occasion it was a packed room with an obnoxious truck driver who kept everyone up with some of the loudest snoring I have ever heard.


As I had planned to get up before dawn to hike up to Old Man of Storr for a sunrise photo, I resorted to sleeping in my car with the hope of getting what little sleep I could. The following morning, under a relatively clear sky I hiked up to the vantage point I had in mind, and as is typical of the weather in the highlands a thick mist set in around me, and the next thing I knew it was snowing.


The mist and snow disappeared as quickly as it had arrived but I was left with a now overcast sky and a dull landscape. For the next couple of hours I sat precariously on a steep slope of The Storr, huddled up next to my tripod and camera, in complete solitude. I sat there, almost in the fetal position, quite warm in my multiple layers despite being battered by the wind and other elements, and found myself feeling a certain calm.


I had just simply realised I was doing exactly what I had wanted and planned to do, sitting on the side of a mountain in a stunning landscape waiting for the right photo to present itself.