Italian Travels - Part I

A couple of weeks ago I was able to make my first foray into travel photography. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work for a few days at the lakes in Northern Italy. For those of you that know me you'll know that international travel is not something that has tempted me before. I feel such a belonging on the shores of a remote loch, wading through a highland river, tromping across the Scottish hills or being beaten by the North Atlantic gales. Needless to say that 27 degrees under the blazing sun in a foreign city was daunting to me. Nevertheless, an opportunity had presented itself, an opportunity I knew I would regret missing!

Despite all my anxieties, I navigate my way to the first destination of my foreign escapade - Malcesine. Malcesine is a typical and picturesque Italian village and the tourisism metropolis of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, and the venue of the wedding I had travelled some 1300 miles to photograph.

I had arrived 2 days before the wedding in order to explore the town, visit the venue and scout the area for any and all photo opportunities. 

The landmark of the town is of course Castello Scaligero, taking pride place overlooking the town. As this brilliant location was to be the venue of the wedding it was the first place I visited.

Strangely, the first thing that struck me about the castle was the sound and sight of swallows criss-crossing in the sky, in and out. From the top of the tower the castle commands magical views of the lake in each direction. To the south was an sparkling expanse of blue contrasted with the patchwork of rooftops that make up the town.

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 To the north the views are all the more spectacular. Looking deep into the head of the lake you can make out the sails from pleasure boats flapping their way around the blue. Above them tower the mountains that complete the scene of Lake Garda. 

 So impressive are the cliffs on the western shore of Lake Garda, I'm told that they extend as far below the surface of the water as they do above it.

So impressive are the cliffs on the western shore of Lake Garda, I'm told that they extend as far below the surface of the water as they do above it.

On a spare free afternoon I took advantage of the chance to use the cable car to ride to the top of Monte Baldo and take in the amazing panoramic views that only a mountain top can offer. As it happens, on my arrival at the top and as soon as I stepped out of the terminal the threatening clouds closed in around me and I felt enormous heavy rain drops begin to land on me. I was never going to be able to stay for long but in the end I was only able to capture a few shots of the sun breaking through the cloud onto the lake.

I couldn't leave Malcesine without capturing a shot of the iconic castle rising out of the town and the mountains beyond. On a warm still evening I battled mosquitoes to get this shot. With the sun disappearing below the cliffs behind my left shoulder, it was at just the right angle to pick out the colour of the buildings that make up Malcesine beautifully.

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Fortunately we had stunning weather all the way through the 'big day' and it wasn't until the morning after, we all woke to BIG winds, torrential rains, massive thunder and lightning strikes across the lake. Just about time to get out of Malcesine - next stop, Venice!

Bluebells of Perthshire

Ever since I first started taking photos of nature and Scotland's landscapes, I have searched for woodland floors carpeted with bluebells. I would see photos of hillsides weighed down by them and woods with seas of blue stretching as far as the eye could see.

My search for this holy grail started in the country park local to where I grew up. 

 At the local woods I was able to capture close up photos of beautiful flowers such as this, but it definitely lacked the blooming woodland floors I wanted.

At the local woods I was able to capture close up photos of beautiful flowers such as this, but it definitely lacked the blooming woodland floors I wanted.

  This little kirk in the neighbouring town to the village of Glen Coe was a place that cropped up every year because of its incredible bluebell display. Last year I was finally able to make a stop at the famed church and photograph the spectacular bluebells.

This little kirk in the neighbouring town to the village of Glen Coe was a place that cropped up every year because of its incredible bluebell display. Last year I was finally able to make a stop at the famed church and photograph the spectacular bluebells.

Although the carpeting at Ballachulish was impressive and beautiful, and definitely the best example of an expanse of bluebells I had ever seen, it still didn't cut the mustard. I wanted a woodland scene. Beautiful, strong Scottish trees and bluebells reaching out as far as the eye could see.

 It wasn't until my move to Perthshire last year that I was able to finally find, what I think is the greatest show of bluebells in Scotland.

It wasn't until my move to Perthshire last year that I was able to finally find, what I think is the greatest show of bluebells in Scotland.

Kinclaven woods, situated roughly half way between Perth and Blairgowrie is a modest wood of about 50 hectares. Made up mostly of oak, and some veteran beech trees, this wood is famous for it's bluebells. I began to scout the woods several weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed the quiet space. The sense of peace and beauty in small space felt special. But I was no where near prepared for the final show that was yet to be revealed.

 Over the course of a fortnight I visited Kinclaven bluebell woods numerous times to explore different vantage points, lighting conditions and waiting for the bluebells to reach their peak.

Over the course of a fortnight I visited Kinclaven bluebell woods numerous times to explore different vantage points, lighting conditions and waiting for the bluebells to reach their peak.

 When the bluebells reached the height of their bloom, well, they were a sight to behold! This beautiful place truly offered up a blue haze reaching way out into the woods and beyond. Small yet clear paths wind their way through the trees making photo opportunities endless.

When the bluebells reached the height of their bloom, well, they were a sight to behold! This beautiful place truly offered up a blue haze reaching way out into the woods and beyond. Small yet clear paths wind their way through the trees making photo opportunities endless.

The Kinclaven wood bluebells are just another gem in the crown of Perthshire, if not the entire Scottish landscape. As a landscape photographer it is the most abundant area of varied and spectacular locations. With every secret each new season reveals, I get a kick out of the fact that this place is my playground, my new stamping ground.