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Julian Calverley on shooting in the Scottish Highlands


May 14, 2013

Julian Calverley’s meticulous process has made him one of the most sought-after landscape photographers for both fine art and ad photography.

Much of his fondness for the wild and unpredictable open spaces in nature come from his childhood family camping trips to the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles. It is now his life’s work to capture the atmospheric variations of these locations, displaying the conflicting entities of nature’s grace and serenity with her power and fury.

Most recently, Julian has returned from a shoot in the Scottish Highlands. We asked him a few questions about his trip.

CORBIS: Have you always shot landscape photography? What appeals to you the most about it?

JULIAN: I love the excitement of just being out in dramatic landscape, particularly in bad weather and challenging conditions.

CORBIS: How do you research your locations and what are you looking for?

JULIAN: I’ll pick an area that I know to be interesting and then study Ordnance Survey (OS) maps and Google Earth, to get a feel for the geology and topography. It’s amazing what you can learn by simply studying conventional and electronic maps. I’ll then spend around a week in that area exploring and making pictures. Always up and out before dawn, and back after dusk.

I normally make repeat trips to the same location in order to familiarise myself, and will often go back time and time again in order to witness them in varying weather and sea states. I’ll also refer to tidal charts in order to catch the optimum conditions for that particular location. For example some location work well at high tide and others at low tide, plus high tide can vary throughout the year. There are a few things that need to happen to create the ideal scenario… weather and tides play an important part.

I use two apps on my iPhone specifically for this task: WeatherPro and TidesPlanner

CORBIS: Have you shot in the Scottish Highlands before?

JULIAN: Yes, I’ve shot there extensively over the last ten years

CORBIS: You mentioned that you shoot mainly before dawn and after dusk; What time does your day typically start and end?

JULIAN: In the summer the day can start at 03:30 and end at 22:00, this takes in to account any travel (trekking) time to get to the specific location.

In the winter it can be a 04:30 start and end at 19:00, and again this takes in to account any travel (trekking) time to get to the specific location.

There is some more info on my process here.

CORBIS: Do you always shoot with your ALPA 12 STC with IQ180 digital back? What makes it ideal for your desired result?

JULIAN: The quality of the IQ180, both in terms of resolution and colour rendition, are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The ALPA 12 STC allows the use of the stunning Alpagon Rodenstock HR lenses, plus the ability to quick stitch should I need it.

It is a system camera built to the highest standards, simple and rugged, and so perfect for my needs.

CORBIS: How does your equipment hold up in the inclement weather? Any tricks for keeping it safe and sound?

JULIAN: I use a vented umbrella, which can stand up to strong gusts of wind, and a Gortex waterproof bag to protect the camera if the weather becomes truly awful.

See more of Julian’s work on Corbis.



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