Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

On Thursday, I took a last-minute, budget airline flight to Inverness.  Limiting myself to hand luggage only to make the most of the amazingly cheap fare on offer, I had to leave my Nikon D800e with assorted lenses at home, presenting me with the ideal opportunity to put a new kid on the block, a Sony A7R with 35mm prime lens, through its paces.  It’s been incredibly liberating to be out taking photographs with this little mirrorless compact camera and with the same 35 megapixel sensor as the D800, I was looking forward to seeing how the camera performed.

The SLR camera has been with us a long time, it’s a tried and tested design and makes a lot of sense for film photography but given that digital photography is just that, digital, why not set up a shot by seeing what the sensor sees by way of an electronic viewfinder?  Seems to make sense to me and indeed it did.  I have been seriously impressed with the results from this camera and whilst I’m not ready to list my D800e on eBay, as an option when the amount of kit you can carry becomes a real consideration, you could do a helluva lot worse than a Sony A7R.

The photograph below is of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. As one of Scotland’s most iconic castles, this is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness 35mm f/11 1/100 sec. ISO-100

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73 responses

  1. Adrian, what a stunning shot! And I read the backstory with interest, as I am awaiting a 10-day rental on a Fuji X100T to find out whether it might provide a good switch for me from my D7100 :) So glad to hear you liked it!

    April 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    • Thank you Stacey. I hope the rental with the Fuji goes well. I do think that the mirrorless camera is now a serious contender to the DSLR.

      April 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      • I’m kind of hoping that, Adrian. Since I’m not a pro and don’t need to print large, I’m liking the idea of something a bit easier to carry around. If I like the XT, then I’m going to rent the X-T1 to compare with it and my current kit. I’m looking forward to the adventure :)

        April 20, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      • All sounds good to me Stacy. I look forward to seeing your results! :)

        April 20, 2015 at 8:09 pm

  2. Lovely place and beautiful photo

    April 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    • Thank you very much Lou! It is indeed a lovley place! :-)

      April 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

  3. Sue

    Wow! You do get about, Adrian! Doesn’t seem long since you were in Iceland. Interesting to see you are having a think about mirrorless….as you know, I am a convert. Moody shot, by the way 😀

    April 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    • Thank you Sue! Your comment was in spam BTW. I’m finding the results from the Sony to be incredibly good. I can actually hand hold this one so this frees up my photography considerably. A big consideration as you know only too well. Not being able to hold a heavy camera and to be reliant on the tripod all the time can be very limiting!

      April 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

      • Sue

        You’re not the first to find me in Spam….it happens to the best of us.. Glad you are pleased with your mirrorless!

        April 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

      • It does indeed. For a while last year, every comment I made was in spam until I contacted WordPress. It doesn’t do to like or comment on too many posts apparently within a given time period! Not good for people who like to spend an hour catching up on all their blogs in one go!

        April 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

      • Sue

        Oh, thanks for that – the reason for me going in to Spam…I do catch up like that!

        April 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

  4. V. Alarcón-Córdoba

    Excellent landscape architecture. I’ve added it to my wallpaper collection. Great work. Thank you.

    April 20, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    • Thank you very much! A very nice compliment.

      April 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm

  5. Awesome capture… ! I love the colour composition…

    April 20, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    • Thank you Paritosh! :)

      April 20, 2015 at 6:39 pm

  6. poppytump

    I’m thrilled it all worked out ChillB ! The new camera lives up to its reviews and the what a stunning shot to test it with :-) such a beautiful dawn you’ve captured over the Loch and Castle .
    You took full advantage of the weather conditions I know so I hope you’ll share some more landscape images of Bonnie Scotland ….
    It ‘s something to bear in mind … quite tempting those cheap flights ;-)

    April 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    • Thank you Poppy! I’m really very impressed with this little camera. We had some very long days but with the weather as it was, we wanted to pack as much in as possible. I’ve a few more shots to share over the the coming days. As this trip worked out so well I’ve got my eye on a couple of other locations. It’s such a shame EasyJet doesn’t fly from Newquay. As you say, the cheap flights are so tempting. :-)

      April 20, 2015 at 7:59 pm

  7. Wow – that really is a stunning shot, Adrian. I’ m struggling to get around where all the light is coming from the foreground, or is this an HDR shot?

    April 20, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    • Thank you Andy! I was struggling to get full range of tones I was seeing in a single exposure so I bracketed a couple of shots, one exposed for the foreground to give me the detail and the light being cast by the newly risen sun and one underexposed to give me the colour in the sky. I blended the two exposures using a mask in Photoshop so yes it’s an HDR image of a very rudimentary nature. :-)

      April 20, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      • It worked very well

        April 20, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      • Thank you Andy! :-)

        April 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

      • Well – that answered my question! Still, pretty impressive and a great location.

        April 22, 2015 at 11:02 am

      • Thank you Noeline! I think you have to try something a little different with a so oft photographed location such as this don’t you think? :)

        April 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      • Absolutely – quite often easier said than done!

        April 25, 2015 at 8:55 am

      • :-)

        April 25, 2015 at 5:24 pm

  8. Aiai, can’t get much better than this. Awesome souvenir, Adrian! I’m impressed with the fact that you actually left the D800 at home and you got me seriously thinking now. :-) It’s indeed a very heavy load! :-(

    April 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    • It wasn’t easy Dina, leaving my D800 behind but I like a challenge and as I said, this was the perfect opportunity to really test the camera. I’m quite blown away by the results and I can see a lot more trips on the horizon where the Sony is going to be the camera of choice. There’s a lot to be said for travelling light! :)

      April 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm

  9. billymog

    Great work sir.
    Love your photos

    April 20, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    • Thank you very much! :)

      April 20, 2015 at 8:17 pm

  10. Wonderful mood in this! Great work. Interested to hear/see more results from that camera!

    April 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’m very pleased with the results from this first test! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

  11. WOW…beautiful Adrian.

    April 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    • Thank you Edith! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

  12. Lovely! I hope it was nicer to carry such a light camera. I love me new Samsung because of the weight!

    April 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    • Thank you Marina! I can’t now handhold the Nikon but I can with this little camera and that really frees up my photography, not being tied to a tripod! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:31 am

  13. Lovely image Adrian…and welcome to the wonderful world of mirrors cameras, although I shoot Olympus, not Sony.

    April 20, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    • Thank you Mark! I’m impressed with mirrorless so far, that’s for sure! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:31 am

  14. Wow that is absolute magic! Stunning!!!

    April 21, 2015 at 2:16 am

    • Thank you Norma! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

  15. Beautiful shot and very much appreciated your insight on the A7R ~ I’ve been jealous of this camera for a long time, knowing that one day it (or one of its mirrorless brethren) will be in my future leaving my trusted SLR and DSLR cameras in a cupboard somewhere :-)

    April 21, 2015 at 2:22 am

    • Thank you Randall! I’ve been really impressed with the Sony. I have an adapter on order that will allow me to use my Nikon lenses and that is going to be really interesting. Although it defeats the oblject a little to put such large lenses on a camera that is so small and light, it will provide with me with some comparative images and I can then consider whether to invest in the Sony/Carl Zeiss lens range designed specifically for this camera. I might then be totally happy leaving all the heavy kit at home.

      April 21, 2015 at 10:42 am

      • I think (and look forward to the day) when I go that same route. There are too many Canon lens I have that I cannot imagine myself parting with…but a Zeiss lens will eventually dazzle I am sure. Cheers and look forward to your experiences and work!

        April 22, 2015 at 5:24 am

      • I don’t think I’m going to be retiring the D800e anytime soon as I feel the same way about my Nikon Lenses as you do about your canon lenses Randall. However, the A7R has definitely given me more options when the kit I can carry is a consideration. That can only be a good thing plus I can handhold the Sony. The Nikon is too heavy for me to do that now. It’s an excellent addition to my kit and but can’t see it replacing any of it yet. :-)

        April 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

  16. Your wonderful photo made me catch my breath, Adrian. It’s a truly magical castle. :)

    April 21, 2015 at 2:25 am

    • Thank you so much Sylvia! Having lived in Scotland for a time, I can’t believe I never made it to Loch Ness. All so very beautiful! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:43 am

  17. I don’t understand much of your technical information but I know a gorgeous photograph when I see it – gorgeous!

    April 21, 2015 at 3:36 am

    • Thank you Carol. I really appreciate your comment! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:44 am

  18. lriadcs

    It’s a nice photo.

    April 21, 2015 at 3:47 am

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

  19. I agree with you that the DSLR is hanging on to a previous age. Wishing you continuous success in your experiments with new tools. Nice photo.

    April 21, 2015 at 4:11 am

    • Thank you very much Shimon! I’m enjoying the new tools so far! :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

  20. Brilliant capture, the clarity and deep rich palette really enhance this scene. I anticipate a fairy tale and would happily follow the first character that presented…

    April 21, 2015 at 5:07 am

    • Thank you Vivian! It really is a fairytale setting and with Nessie patroling the loch, there’s a dragon too.. maybe.. ;-)

      April 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

  21. Awesome shot! I really struggle to get that depth of tone in the sky without the foreground being too dark….practice makes perfect I guess!

    April 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    • Hi Zoe, Thank you! The secret to this kind of shot is to blend two exposures. Cameras struggle to give a full range of tones in certain conditions such as dawn and dusk. If you expose for the sky to get the nice colour, the foreground is too dark and if you expose for the foreground, the sky is blown. You need to take two exposures or bracket shots under these circumstances and then blend both pictures using exposure blending software or, as I did, by using masks in Photoshop. I loaded both photos, light and dark, onto a seperate layer in Photoshop and then using a single mask I painted out the bright sky on the top layer to reveal the darker sky on the layer beneath leaving the lighter foreground on the top layer intact. There a lots of tutorials explaining exactly how this is done on the Web. I hope that helps.

      April 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

  22. A stunning photo! I must admit when I saw the notification in my inbox (without the image), I thought, no, not that touristy place, there are so many photographs of Urquhart Castle about and they get boring to look at. I was gobsmacked when I opened your post to have a look, though, you have made it look rather more majestic and mystical than the tourist trap it has become. I’m glad I decided to look, I would hate to have missed it.
    By the way, if you give us some warning next time you’re in the area, I might come and say hello ;-)

    April 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    • Thank you so much Sonja! That’s quite a compliment. It was all very last minute otherwise I’d have let you know I was going to be in the area this time. It would have been lovely to say hi and I will definitely let you know next time! I will definitely make the journey again. I had a fabulous time and with the weather as it’s been, the photos were there for the taking. :-)

      April 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

  23. Love this one, Adrian. Graduated density filter on the sky?

    April 22, 2015 at 12:26 am

    • Hi Frank, thank you. I didn’t have an ND grad option available for the Sony camera so I blended two exposures using a mask in Photoshop!

      April 22, 2015 at 8:25 am

  24. Beautiful capture Adrian. Your reply to Zoe was also very helpful. It seems so simple once you know how. :)

    April 22, 2015 at 1:49 am

    • Thank you Beth. I’m glad you found my reply to Zoe helpful! :-)

      April 22, 2015 at 8:23 am

  25. An amazing shot!

    April 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    • Thank you again Elena! It’s a fabulous place to visit, particularly as I did, when there isn’t anybody else about. It gets very busy with coachloads of tourists as you can imagine.

      April 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm

  26. I’m torn between going wow on the Sony but then it’s what you do with whatever you shoot with – fantastic shot!

    April 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    • I’ve been really impressed with the Sony Patti! A super little camera! Thank you! :-)

      April 27, 2015 at 8:14 pm

  27. You have really captured some stunning light in this image. And Urquhart Castle looks like a wonderful place. As to technology; like you I enjoy small digital cameras and use them exclusively in some situations. Nevertheless I would never get rid of my SLR’s, they are more versatile, but of course also more bulky.

    May 1, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    • Thank you very much Otto! I certainly have no plans to be getting rid of any kit but I have been really impressed with this little Sony! :-)

      May 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

  28. Wow . . .

    . . . also ‘wow’ on the price of the camera ($1,900 US here). Don’t know that I would invest in a whole new system (I’m assuming lenses are also not cheap) unless I go pro, and I’m a loooong way from it.

    However, nice to know from a first-hand source what the camera is capable of.

    May 2, 2015 at 3:48 am

    • Thank you Emilio! It’s not a cheap camera by any means and no, the lenses are not cheap either. I have an adapter to allow me to use Nikon lenses but this really defeats the object of a light, almost pocket sized full-frame camera. I’m sticking with a 35mm prime for now. The resolution of detail is such that tight crops are not a problem and being forced to move around a little more, having a fixed lens, is good for my photography.

      May 2, 2015 at 4:32 pm

  29. A glorious scene, Adrian! I love your series of castle photographs. A little jealous of all your traveling, though….
    : )

    May 26, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    • Thank you Karen. It was great fun being a tourist in my own country. I hadn’t seen any of these castles before and it was a real pleasure visiting them. It’s been a pretty hectic couple of months travelwise. I’ve been very lucky. Home for the next three months though. That’s not to say I’m not going to be out and about taking pictures in Cornwall. :-)

      May 26, 2015 at 5:16 pm