At EasyWays, we love hearing from other walkers about their favourite walking experiences. Our new Featured Walkers series will introduce you to a range of walkers and give you an insight of what they love most about walking. Our first featured walker is the phenomenal photographer, Gary Gillies. He took the time to tell us about his wonderful photography work as well as his love for walking and exploring the Scottish countryside.
How did you get into photography?
By exposure to things and places that deserve to be photographed. Although I dabbled in the rudiments of photography when I was younger, I didn’t really “get into” it until I’d been hill walking for a while. I spent all this time surrounded by stunning scenery and was disappointed that the odd snap with a phone never really captured anything of the sense of these places. I found myself saying things like “obviously, it’s even more impressive than that in real life”. I wanted to be able to give people a little glimpse of what it felt like being in these places.
What is your favourite Scottish Walk?
It’s incredibly difficult to pick a favourite, but I’d probably have to say the Ring of Steall in the Mamores. I grew up in Fort William so I’ve spent a huge amount of time in Glen Nevis. I’d walked the Lairig Mor, I’d walked all the way through upper Glen Nevis to Kinlochleven, so finally standing on the ridge of the Mamores and having this sweeping view from Kintail right round to Mull, the hills of Argyll, and off to Schiehallion and Ben Alder in the east was magnificent. Not only that, it’s a very fine ridge walk in its own right; sharp aretes linking real Tobleroney pyrimidal peaks – it’s what most people think of when they think of mountains.
What do you feel are the highlights of this walk?
For those with a head for heights, the first airy knife edge on An Gearanach with the rest of the day’s hills spread out in front of you is hard to beat. If you’re more of a ground dweller though you need only go as far as the Steall meadows; the sudden and unexpected change in scenery as you come out of the confines of the Nevis gorge isn’t something you’ll forget in a hurry.
Have you got any picture’s you would like to share of this walk?
I do; although it bears repeating now I’ve a better camera!
Where can people see more of your work?
Facebook for the most part, I’ve only just started playing with Instagram. I’m sure in time though it’ll be on calendars and shortbread tins.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to someone starting out walking?
Apart from the obvious safety stuff, start taking a map and compass out with you on the early, easier walks – the way marked stuff on good paths. If you get the bug, you’ll quickly want to progress to more ambitious walks and leaning about back bearings for the first time on an open hillside with the clag closing in is not a way to enjoy yourself.
What are your top walking tips?
Another navigation one – be aware of positive reinforcement. The easiest mistake to make is, as I heard it phrased recently, “making the geography fit the picture you have in your head, rather than fitting the picture in your head to the geography”. This one’s almost philosophical: people who blunder along only looking for signs they’re on the right track get lost; people who are always looking out for signs they’re on the wrong track tend to find their way.
What are your top tips of taking stunning landscape photos?
This is going to sound perverse living in Scotland, but – strong sunlight is your friend. Scenes which are flat and uninteresting on an overcast day can reveal huge depth and variation in colour and texture when the sun hits them. Light is everything and, in Scotland, that means luck is everything too.