It said in Scotland the rain to be the liquid Scottish sun. Hence, the liquid element might be given a deserved importance while photographing that abrupt land filled with magic. Water shapes the landscape, the people, and the Scotch whisky.
Even Waverley Station in Edinburgh, from where the Royal Scotsman departs, it was originally Nor Loch, drained in XIX century to became the second largest rail station in the United Kingdom, after Waterloo. That said, it would be advisable to use for outdoors purposes, mostly an ISO of 400 for a 35-50 mm lens, as for the camera ready to shoot.
The view of the Belmond Royal Scotsman under the green iron roof of Waterly Station Inverlochy Castle catches the eye of the camera, focusing on the rail wagons, coated with charcoal grey in the roof, the walls in burgundy. The balanced contrast for the picture will be the Piper wearing a check red kilt and a dark green pipe, playing to welcome the passengers.
Once inside the train, prepare the tripod and pay attention to the many details waiting to be photographed: the cosy table lamp set in each compartment, the wing chairs upholstered in floral cretonne, the tables all dressed up with fine linen crystal, chinaware and silver cutlery bearing the emblem of The Royal Scotsman. For the yellowish light inside the Pullman wagons it will be good a luminous lens F 1.4, slow shutter speed and an ISO of 500-700. It will help while photographing the tableware the reflection of the white tablecloth. The Chef wearing a chef’s hat is a lively motif for photography as well as the delicacies that will appear over the table like lobster salad, Nucleic tenderloin, risotto with white truffle or venison ribs in redcurrant sauce, among others…
Continuing along the western route, the train will travel in direction to Falkirk near the mouth of Clyde estuary, heading towards the majestic Highlands at a slow speed allowing the passengers enjoying the panoramic views. Morning comes bringing the perspective through the window of the misty Loch Lomond surrounded by fields cover with purple thistle, the national symbol of Scotland. It’s a must to go out in the Observatory coach and with a lens 24-105 ISO 400. 1/250 speed and an overture of 1/16 for a convenient depth of field, shoot the beautiful scenery. The train stops in strategic places like the beach of Morar Sands, populated by seagulls, threatened by dark clouds, sunshine fighting through; lens 24-105, 400 ISO, frame the picture and shoot. The result will show the essence of Scotland in a picture. The air brings smell of saltpetre and the sound of the waves is so clear that the strait separating Morar Sands from Skye is called “Sound of Sleat” (Home of the clan McDonald of Sleat).
Skye is one of the most dramatic places of Scottish scenery, inhabited yet by the Scottish clans as McLeod or McDonald, windows and doors of the houses painted in red or green, fairy light of the pub inviting for a pint, inviting for a photograph.
Next stop introduced by the tourist guide Ray Owens will be Fort William. Reserve a couple of shots for Ray performing the multiple use of his kilt, good as skirt, coat, umbrella, camping tent…while talking about his nation, deepening in details of the Highlanders. Meanwhile Mr. Owen takes a break in his lecture, pointing at the stone bridge hidden in the mist, filming set for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ideal for shooting at 400 ISO, high speed, and 24-105 lenses.
Ray also express his particular opinion about the cinematographic version of Brave Heart filmed in Fort William, for Ray point of view quite different to real facts, and speaks highly about William Wallace Brave Heart national hero fighting against British occupation under kingdom of Edward I in Scotland Independence War.
Impressive fortress, high towers, imposing mansions are part of Scottish landscape as well as the thistle flower fields or the Scottish black face sheep, perfect contrast for a photography highlighting the green grass. Inverlochy Castle is a good example-all in one- of fortress, mansion and castle. Placed in the slopes of Ben Naris, the highest mount in the British Islands, it used to be Lord Abinger home in 1863. In 1867 Queen Victoria going to Balmoral, stayed there for a week, her ranking for Inverlochy absolutely exquisite. In 1969 became one of the best hotels in Scotland and a must stop for The Royal Scotsman. After walking around the garden surrounding the lake, taking pictures of the multicolour flowers macro lens required, panoramic photos with a wide angle, and close ups 24-105 lens, tea time has come accompanied by cucumber finger sandwiches, biscuits and muffins, ideal to make a delicious still photographs, tripod helped.
Back to the train, just on time to go to the luxury train cabin, than reminds a galleon chamber, get fancy dressed and go to the restaurant where the Chef is about to inform dinner menu: grilled scallops with capers, tenderloin Angus cooked in red wine sauce, shallots and baked potatoes. A sweet and tasty Cappuccino chocolate pudding will be the dessert.
If teatime is part of British tradition, on Scotch whisky savouring at evening, the time is Scottish. In this occasion the soiree will take place in the Observatory Bar where a wide collection of scotch bottles await to be tasted by the passengers. Curiously the brands are others from which, especially foreigners, are used to drink. They are not commercial ones and it will be required a highlander advise when it comes to choose one. One of the passengers who live in Australia, born in Scotland, has attended dinner wearing the family kilt, like his fellows on board. A great picture will be to catch him singing emotional Scottish songs, to the rhythm of the accordion, while toe tapping. He stops singing and going towards the bar gives an spontaneous speech about the several labels on the whisky bottles, their alcohol degrees, their bouquet…stimulating his travelling companions to taste them all before the journey ends.
Fred McFerguson will be delighted to sit still for some instants, and holding the glass, pose, while having a sip of the golden firewater. The resulting photograph will show an authentic highlander dressed up with his clan-chequered kilt, Argyll jacket and the sporran, enjoying his scotch whiskey. The camera won’t miss the harpist playing a traditional Scottish tune, her hair like a reddish cascade falling over her shoulders.
Following morning, the grass look greener, the whole scenery brightens under the shun shine. Perfect time to use the 300 m lens at a high speed to trap de details of the thistle fields, the black-faced sheep, the small churches, and the pristine waters of the lakes from the Balcony Observatory. Meanwhile the train heads toward Wemyss Bay station. From there passengers will cross in a ferryboat to Rothesay in Bute Island.
- Time required for this trip: 3 days, 4 nights.
- Traveller profile: Amateur. ( What´s this? )
- Itinerary difficulty: Quite easy.
- Adventure level: Low.
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- Macro lens.
- Wide angle lens.
- 50-mm. lenses.
- 24-105 lenses.
- 300-mm.-tele objective lenses.
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- Waverley Station in Edinburgh.
- The body train of The Royal Scotsman.
- Train indoors.
- Lamps, crystal. China wear, silver cutlery.
- Chef’s dishes.
- Loch Lemond.
- Thistle Fields.
- Morar Sands.
- Fort William.
- Scottish black face sheep.
- Inverlochy Castle.
- Teatime at The Royal Scotsman.
- Evening Soiree.
Don’t miss the beautiful contrast of the thistle fields upon the surrounding green grass, under a blue sky, either the castles, bridges, or fortress appearing from the mist.
Take the opportunity in a hairpin curve to shoot from the window a good panoramic of the train.
Try to find something colourful: umbrella, flowers… for colour contrast in a misty day.