Imagine a place of infinite sand beaches, tidal flats, and endless dunes covered with grass swaying in the wind, waves crashing on deserted shores and in the background, sensual mountains rising from the water... Now, add some of the wildest and most dramatic light conditions you can imagine and a delightful sense of remoteness. That is the Isle of Harris.
During a whole week, we will photograph a constantly changing landscape where the magical brushes of light and weather paint over a canvas of sand, water and grass in this gem of the Outer Hebrides.
This will be an All Inclusive Photo Immersion trip conducted personally by Rafael Rojas and his partner Anca Minican. During the entire week we will be based at our comfortable hotel from where we will be able to easily reach all our chosen photographic areas and adapt ourselves to the different weather and light conditions.
If there is a place which seems been made for landscape photographers, it is the Isle of Harris. By far our favourite location in Scotland and one of our preferred places on this planet.
The philosophy of this Photo-Immersion Trip
Photography is not the goal, but the path. Nowadays, we all rush through our life. We travel fast and we see the world without experiencing it. We think that in order to see more, we need to move faster. But the truth is that travelling in time and light, travelling through mood and weather is often more rewarding. Feelings and emotions, experiences and souvenirs, are not measured in quantity, but in quality. Slowing down makes you connect more with a place. When you slow down, your inner landscape tends to blend with the outer one. And then, magic happens. Life is like a good whisky, and should be consumed in small sips. Photography is the best of the glasses for that whisky.
Apart from our Photo Adventures, which are more focused on exploring the world and experiencing the thrill of discovering faraway places with the help of a camera, our Photo Immersion trips offer a slightly different approach: to slow down our pace, to forget about running after photographic trophies and to focus on creating highly personal work about a specific area for a certain number of days.
We minimise the travel in space to focus on travel in the light, travel through the changes in the weather, travel in time. Every day, we photograph a certain "playground" where you will notice that conditions are never the same. Every day, we get a little closer to the spirit of the place. Every day, we make a better friend. In a way, we focus on a type of internal travel, rather than an external one.
During our Photo Immersion trips, we will hold daily briefings, general tutorials and "in the field" instruction together with commentary and feedback sessions with image reviews, thereby tackling all aspects related to photography: Vision, composition, visual design, technique, post-processing, workflow, light and weather, the philosophy of photography, information about the different places, travel logistics, etc.
As opposed to our workshops, where Rafael does not even take his camera out of the bag, this Photo Trip will also give you the opportunity of seeing how Rafael works, how he visualises, composes and creates his photographs in the field. Some of his photographs taken during the trip will also be used as examples or case studies on the field, and analysed during the lectures and critique sessions held during the photographic trip.
We want to eliminate all the hassle of travelling so that we can focus on creative photography and maximize our natural immersion in the location. For our entire stay we will be based at a comfortable hotel in the village of Tarbert, close to the areas we will photograph. This will also allow us to make the most of the conditions, tailoring our programme to the weather and light we will experience during our trip.
During this phototrip, we will photograph in all kinds of light conditions; sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk, day and night. In November the sun remains low over the horizon providing us daily with 8.5 hours of great light for landscape photography. And all that under the extremely dynamic and photogenic weather so unique to the Scottish Hebrides.
Truly a landscape photographer's heaven...
The place: Isle of Harris, Scotland
Imagine a place of infinite sand beaches, tidal flats, and endless dunes covered with marram grass swaying in the wind, waves crashing on deserted shores and, in the background, sensual mountains rising from the water... Now, add some of the wildest and most dramatic light conditions you can imagine and a delightful sense of remoteness. That is the Isle of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
There is something about Scotland which attracts landscape photographers from all over the world. It could be the contrast between the ocean and the mountains, the raw nature of the landscape, the untamed fury of the sea, the transient character of the light, the changeability of the weather and the sense of isolation... If all those elements define Scotland, the Isle of Harris becomes one of its strongest representations, the pure essence of what this land has to offer encapsulated in one single place.
Over the last years, we have travelled and photographed extensively in many areas of Scotland, including some iconic places such as the Isle of Skye or Glencoe. As much as we were impressed by these places, nothing had prepared us for the magic and photographic opportunities of the Isle of Harris. This is truly our preferred photographic location in the whole of Scotland.
Part of the Outer Hebrides, Harris faces the open ocean, unprotected from the winds and the fierce waves of the Atlantic, which become the shaping force of the landscape. Weather fronts roll in from the Atlantic, creating amazing cloud formations and dramatic light conditions like nowhere else on the planet. Photographing the landscape in the Outer Hebrides is like photographing a living organism. Every minute, everything changes... The light, the tide, the clouds, the weather... The landscape becomes a canvas where a transient play of tones, colours and reflections are mirrored as the light changes by the second. Photographing in Harris means becoming a hunter of light.
The landscape of Harris is extremely varied and could be defined as a Scotland in miniature. To the East, a rugged coast outlined with rocky islets welcomes the first rays of the sunrise. Inland, a barren landscape of turf, lochans and Lewisian gneiss rock unveils the sombre and almost mystical nature of this ancient land. To the west, some of the best sand beaches of the whole Atlantic beg to be photographed. White and golden sand stretches for kilometres, lined by sand dunes covered with marram grass which sways in the wind providing great photographic opportunities. From the ocean, islands and mountains rise from the water, drawing their sensual rounded shapes against the horizon and offering amazing focal points for photographs.
Talking about Harris is also talking about space, openness, isolation and remoteness. Huge expanses of sand flats, empty beaches, silent bogs and lochans, uninterrupted views stretching over to the horizon and infinite skies... There is a strong sense of magnetism and mysticism permeating this place.
We will be based at a comfortable hotel in Tarbert, South Harris, from where we will have easy and rapid access to all the areas we will photograph, mainly focusing on the coast. You can be sure about something, every day the landscape will be different!