Snow White on the Black Isle

I’m experiencing my first ‘proper’ winter on the Black Isle.

Last winter was mild. I got out for a short walk most days, scraped ice off the car on a handful of occasions and got by without winter tyres. With the exception of a storm in early December, it was nothing to write home about. This winter has been a different story. In December I stocked up on tinned food and kitted out the car with a wind-up torch, snow shovel and sleeping bag, and braced myself for the first storm of the season. Nothing happened. Christmas and New Year came and went and I dropped my guard.

Hurricane force winds battered Scotland on 9th January and kept me awake in the Travelodge in Edinburgh. I was back in the capital catching up with colleagues after the Christmas break. I’ve learned the following lesson the hard way over the years: if there’s an amber weather alert, then your journey will be disrupted! Unable to get a train back to Inverness, I spent the night at my parents’ house in Perth and caught the bus up a snowy A9 the following day.

I returned home to a broken boiler (thanks to a surge following power cuts) and six long days wearing more layers than the Michelin man, trying to stay warm. Then the snow came. I was torn. I groaned when the mercury plummeted to 1°C in my study, yet the big kid inside of me was thrilled to throw snowballs and go sledging by the light of a headtorch! The photographer in me had mixed reactions too. I was captivated by our first fall of deep snow on the Black Isle and I was keen to capture the occasion, yet the only daylight was during office hours and I was tied to the house for the plumber’s three separate attempts at repairing the boiler. Also, venturing out in the snow is less appealing when you can’t return home to a warm house.

Our first deep snow fall in Resolis
Our first deep snow fall in Resolis

Finally the weekend arrived. It was my day off, our heating and hot water had been restored, the sun was shining and the snow was still lying. I had run out of excuses. I had to go out with my camera, and not just to take a shot of the house. It was time to tackle the real problem – an ongoing creative ‘mental block’ after suffering from stress two years ago. Since the winter of 2012-13, more often than not, I have lacked the motivation to get up and get out with my camera. ‘Get obsessed with photography again’ is number one on my list of new year’s resolutions. I have a plan. I know what I want to shoot. I just have to go out there and actually do it. So, I set off with the intention of capturing a snowy image which may find a home in my 2016 calendar. I thought I was destined for failure as I haven’t really been in the right mindset for such a long time.

Kinbeachie, the Black Isle
Kinbeachie, the Black Isle

As any landscape photographer will know, one of the biggest challenges can be finding a place to park the car, particularly in the snow. Scoping out the local area on my bike and on foot has paid off. I left the car in a safe spot, grabbed my gear, set off through a field of barley stubble and snow, and jumped a gate to reach a frozen pond with a view of Ben Wyvis on the horizon. The camera was positioned at a 90° angle to the sun and so I attached a polariser to the front of my lens to reduce reflections on the ice. I waited for the sun to burst through a rogue cloud and for the wind to drop, and I captured my first serious image of 2015. I hope it’s the first of many.

Are you a fan of the snow? Have you captured any special images this winter? Please leave a comment below!

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4 thoughts

  1. I think creative ‘mental block’ had been busted and you are on high notes of the creative being, whatever it may be, try to focus on things we have controls. wishes Karen, keep smiling and clicking.


    1. Thanks Josh. I agree, I’ve overcome that mental barrier and I’m now motivated to get out and about with my camera. The last few months I’ve really felt that the photographs and text have come together. Hopefully there will be no stopping me now and I am hoping to publish my next post this evening! Best wishes, Karen. 🙂

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