A boat graveyard on the Isle of Skye offers plenty of scope for shots of peeling paint and old ropes, says Jeremy Walker
Loch Harport is a small sheltered sea loch on the western coast of the Isle of Skye, in Scotland. The loch is surrounded by hills, and with the magnificent brooding mass of the famous Cuillins not far in the distance, it’s a suitable background for any Skye landscape image. The loch is reached along the B8009 that leads from the picturesque Sligachan to Dunvegan road, signposted Carbost – look for the wonderful 8ft-high scarecrow carving next to the signpost.
The B8009 leads to several worthwhile locations, but your main goal (apart from the Talisker distillery) should be the cemetery just before Merkadale. As you start to ascend the hill it will be 200m below you to your right. There is a small, unmarked, single-track lane that leads to a parking area next to the cemetery. The cemetery is small and well kept but of little photographic interest. Instead, your attention should be directed towards the tidal bay 50m or so east of the car park.
On the shores of this bay you will find the remains of three small boats. You could happily spend a few hours shooting views and close-up details here. As well as the three decaying wrecks, it is worth taking a short walk around the bay to the right of the boats. There is a long fence that runs into the water and this has excellent photographic potential – especially at high tide with a Lee Big Stopper.
The bay, with its slowly decaying boats, is an ideal summertime location, and although you may not want to be shooting a sunrise at 4am or a sunset at 10pm, it’s quite possible to shoot when the sun is high and the shadows are harsh. It is a location you may well have to yourself, as the majority of tourists pass by on their way to the distillery. Other photographers head to the more famous (and crowded) Fairy Pools along the Glen brittle road, a quarter of a mile along the B8009.
To shoot the bay and the one boat still in the water, you need to check the tide timetables. high tide is a must, as the boat fills with water, making it a great subject for long exposures.
Do not dismiss the other two boats, as they lend themselves to macro and abstract images. With their peeling paintwork, textured wood, ropes and an old anchor, there is plenty to shoot in such a small area.
With harsh contrasty light and a high sun, the subject matter on offer lends itself to thinking and shooting in black & white.
Food and lodging
The Isle of Skye is a major holiday destination, so accommodation can get booked up well in advance of the summer months.
A well-situated spot for many of Skye’s photo locations is the Sligachan hotel, eight miles east of Carbost on the junction of the A87 and A863. There is also a sizeable campsite opposite the hotel. apart from lodgings, the hotel serves everything from coffees to cooked meals. Warning extreme care should be taken around the boats. They are rotting and may not be stable or safe. Climbing into them is not recommended.
24-70mm zoom lens
A 24-70mm zoom (full frame) is very useful at this sort of location for a variety of shots, from wide views to abstract angles. A 105mm macro lens is ideal for shooting detail and close-up shots.
Lee Stopper filters
It goes without saying that a tripod is useful, especially if you are going to use any of the Lee Filters family of Stopper filters for blur and motion around the boat when the tide comes in.
At this time of year you need a good midge repellent. Some people swear by Avon Skin So Soft dry oil spray, although I haven’t tried it personally.
Award-winning professional photographer Jeremy Walker has been shooting landscapes, architecture and people for more than 25 years. Visit www.jeremywalker.co.uk.