Matthew Maran Photography

Cairngorms Photo Tour

Where:Cairngorms National Park Scotland
Cost:£1250
Dates:
No previous experience required | Bridge, Point-and-Shoot and DSLRs welcome | No smart phones
Places limited to 2 per date
No Dates Available

Course Description

Join Matt Maran and Neil Aldridge on a 7-day photo tour in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park where you will have the chance to photograph, badgers, foxes, pine martins, red squirrels, hunting ospreys and stunning landscapes.

Nestled on the banks of the Feshie River in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, the comfortable Ballintean Mountain Lodge has a large lounge for relaxing, reading, socialising, and of course looking at and backing up footage on laptops. WiFi is available throughout the lodge.

Timetable

  1. Day 1

    Once everyone has arrived at Ballintean, we will settle down to our first dinner as a group. We will then stretch our legs, walk off dinner and fill our lungs with fresh air on a walk and talk from the lodge with the owner of Ballintean, photographer Pete Cairns. This serves as an inspiring introduction to the area, the rewilding work that is happening and a chance to look differently at the landscape around us.

  2. Day 2

    Our first morning is likely to take us into the mountains where we will look for stunning landscapes and, if we are lucky, mountain hares and other wildlife. Depending on the location, we may take our breakfast into the field with us and return in time for lunch. After lunch and a rest, we will run a workshop session from the lodge and spend some time putting the techniques into practice. After dinner and until after dusk, there will be the opportunity to make use of the small dome hides to photograph badgers and foxes or the much more wary pine marten. Alternatively, there will be the chance to shoot some stunning landscapes in the area near the lodge (so looking for details in the forest foliage, capturing mountain and forest backdrops mirrored in the lochs, or taking timelapses of the evening light).

  3. Day 3&4

    Ospreys will be the focus for our second and third mornings (with half of the group visiting the osprey hide on the first morning and the other half the next morning). This will be an early start but we will have tea and coffee before we leave the lodge. We recommend that you bring a flask so you can take tea or coffee with some snacks into the osprey hides as it can get chilly. The other half of the group will explore Abernethy Forest, a beautiful remnant of the ancient Caledonian Forest. We will all return to the lodge for a late breakfast, after which there will be time to rest and re-charge batteries and bodies. After lunch we will run one of the workshop sessions from the lodge and spend some time exploring and putting the techniques into practice. After dinner and until after dusk, there will again be the chance to photograph landscapes in the forests and lochs near the lodge. Alternatively, there will also be the opportunity to make use of the small dome hides to photograph badgers, foxes and pine martens.

  4. Day 5&6

    We will start day 5 by splitting the group again, with one half visiting the red squirrel hide and hoping for plenty of activity from these busy icons of the Scottish wilderness. The other half of the group will visit one of the area’s best spots for landscape photography while keeping an eye out for local nesting ospreys. These groups will alternate for the following day. We return to the lodge for a late breakfast, after which there will be time to rest. After lunch we will again run a workshop session from the lodge and spend some time putting the techniques into practice. After dinner and until after dusk, there will again be the chance to photograph landscapes in the forests and lochs near the lodge. Alternatively, there will also be the opportunity to make use of the small dome hides to photograph badgers, foxes and pine martens.

  5. Day 7

    During the day we will head to Chanonry Point to hopefully see and photograph bottlenose dolphins hunting close to shore on the rising tide. The timing of today’s activities will be dictated by the tide times. It is likely that we will enjoy a late breakfast and so the morning will be free for everyone to rest. Alternatively, those wanting to make the most of the early light may want to use the on-site red squirrel and woodland bird hides, or visit the lochans, river and woodland around the lodge. In the evening after dinner, there will once again be the option to spend time in the bird hide, the small hides placed in the forest for badgers, foxes and pine martens, or to make the most of the evening light by the river and at the lochans with your guides.

What to bring

A range of clothing will be important. Although the trip will take place in late spring/early summer, the winds coming off the mountains and lochs can still be cold and we will often be sat still for long periods around dawn and dusk, so warm hats, gloves and plenty of layers will be important.

Conversely, it can get very warm during the day so comfortable clothing and hats to keep you cool but covered from the sun are recommended. Remember: we may be in Scotland but the sun can be deceptively strong up on the mountains and by the lochs and sea, so please do bring sun cream.

We certainly don’t expect everyone to be decked out in camouflage, but there will be times (like in the hides) when it will be important not to wear white or bright coloured tops, hats and gloves (the bits of you that the wildlife can see). This really does make a difference, so to improve everyone’s viewing success, please try to bring some muted/natural tones (greens, browns etc).

We are traveling before the high season for midges but their numbers can depend on the weather conditions earlier in spring. Generally they should not be a problem but it is worth packing some repellent and insect-proof clothing (long sleeves and trousers) that you can wear in the forests and while outdoors in the evenings.

A range of footwear is recommended. At the very least, please bring something that will be comfortable and supportive for walking over uneven ground, such as walking boots or trail shoes. You may wish to bring something comfortable to wear around the lodge, such as flip-flops or slippers. Welly boots can also be useful for wading into the shallows in lochs and improving your landscape shots.

In terms of camera equipment, a tripod is important. If possible, bringing both a fluid tripod head (for smooth movement) and a static tripod head (for rock-solid landscapes and macro work) is ideal. You don’t need to have the biggest telephoto lens on the market but something in the range of a 300mm lens will allow you to make the most of the ospreys, squirrels and dolphins. Any other lenses that you can bring – from wide or macro to supertelephoto – will come in useful. And whether you have a mirrorless, DSLR or even a bridge camera, we will help you get the most out of your equipment.