Grampian Escapes and Tours

Photography in the Aberdeenshire Landscape

Landscape Photography

Taking pictures is something most of us like to do. The cameras on our mobile phones make it easy and accessible, but what makes a good image?

In today’s episode of the Visit the North East of Scotland Podcast, I’m speaking with Martin Bennie an Aberdeenshire based Photographer who has a passion for landscape photography. 

Aberdeenshire has been Martin’s inspiration for the last few years after spending time abroad with his work based in Korea. Martin talks about why landscape photography speaks to him, how he has taken to helping others develop their style through offering tuition sessions while exploring Royal Deeside and gives us some insight into what makes a great photo.

Over the years, Martin has learned to listen to his intuition when it comes to photography.  His time in Korea allowed him to focus on his skills by learning to tune out outside influences and learning to connect with the images he sees to create unique and beautiful photographs.  Although the rules of  photography are still integral to creating images, he also believes that putting in the effort to find new locations, different perspectives and alternative views are also what appeals to his sense of beauty.

To hear Martin Bennie speak about his adventures in finding the perfect landscape locations for his images and what it takes to create stunning landscape photography, click the audio player below. 

Scottish Photographer Martin Bennie
Martin Bennie - Photographer

Learning the Art of Landscape Photography

Martin has spent a lot of time walking all over the Balmoral Estate, a place he finds calming and inspirational.  Although he often spends a good deal of time working out the images he wants to create, occasionally it is the quick snap-shot images are the ones which attract the most attention.  The instagram post (shown left) of Glas Allt Shiell resulted in hundreds of comments, shares and world wide acclaim, when Martin himself said he only took it in the moment.

Sometimes you can follow all the rules of photography on what makes a good image, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will appreciate it the same. 

Martin shared that he regularly goes on photography excursions with two local photographers Bryan Evans and Dan Christie.  Each of them has their own style and perspective of the Aberdeenshire and Scottish landscape so after they venture out they do like to compare images and are frequently surprised by the variety of images they create of the same environment.

Key Rules of Landscape Photography

Martin talks about the rule of thirds and leading lines when composing and image, but what does this mean. In doing a bit of research I came across several articles which go into detail and I can recommend reading the blog by Capture Landscapes.    The general meaning relates to grid lines which divide your image into 9 squares, two horizontal and two vertical. Most cameras (digital or mobile) will have the option to have these grid lines showing on screen.  By placing the focal point of your image on one of these thirds- especially the intersection points, often creates a pleasing balanced design. Some other helpful tips are:

Position your horizon line on one of the horizontal grid lines – Putting your horizon line in the center of your photo is like cutting your image in half. You can create interest by positioning it in the top or bottom third of your photo.

Align vertical elements along grid lines – When shooting subjects with strong vertical elements, place them on the vertical grid lines on either side of your photo. This is especially useful when shooting buildings, people, or flowers.

Leading lines are incredibly effective at directing a viewer’s attention, and learning how to use them will greatly improve your photography composition. In an article published on the Master Class website, they describe the different types of leading lines to help draw the viewers eyes to the focal point or other points of interest.

Highland Cow Fold near Dufftown
Highland Cows are always a good subject

Benefits of learning from others

We all have different learning styles, some of us learn easily from books or watching YouTube videos for example.  Other like to have hands on experiences and prefer to talk with others to hone their skills.  The wonderful thing about any creative art, is we all see and interpret things in our own unique style.  A  big benefits of taking a workshop or photography tour with some a local guide is the personal experience the guide has of the area.

When people come out with me, I'll show them how to feel a photograph rather than just see it. Because it is about a feeling. Knowing where to go, and finding the best location is one of the greatest benefits of using a local guide.

Martin would say he has a “nagging” style by telling people to stand in a particular place and focus on certain things, but it does help focus the mind. Once you have learned the key principles of the art, like all creative processes, this needs to practiced and repeated time and time again.  Through this process it is how your find your own style.  One thing to remember is no one is perfect.  Of the 50 images you take, most probably won’t be the ideal composition or image you had in mind. But in the digital age you can see the images instantly and know whether you are in the right place and whether you need to try again to get better light, wait for those intense and brooding skies or even whether you’ve just had a good walk but no award winning photos.

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”

Sources of inspiration

There are a lot of options available for anyone who wants to find help with their photography and for many YouTube is a great resource.  For someone who is looking for possible inspiration or encouragement to come to the North East of Scotland then watch the video below.

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Jacqueline van den Akker

Jacqueline van den Akker

Jacqueline is the owner and lead guide for the business. Together with the team, they create wonderful tours and experiences for visitors working in collaboration with other independent business in Aberdeenshire to show the best of the Northeast of Scotland.

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