The WOW! moment

Wow! corner

A friend introduced me to the description of wow corner.  For him, it meant the moment that trippers turned the corner below his cottage at Elgol on Skye and first saw the Cuillens they could hear the audible expression of “wow!” from the cars.

In many ways, those “wow!” moments are the moments of wonder as our senses are thrilled.  When photographing, one strives to engender this sense of wonder by presenting a well thought through image but also one which has some emotional content – that wow! factor.  In the two images below that would be fascination (and symmetry) of the power of the wave, or that feeling of being on top of the world.

On top of the world! Near Loch Esk, Cairngorms
Wave power – Kiloran bay, Colonsay







So why do I go out to seek out such images when, in so many ways, the result can be serendipitous, the result of being in the right place at the right time, experiencing the light and general conditions. Also, as there are now so many people capable of taking great photos, the challenge of getting that wow or being that little bit different seems more difficult.  However, photography is not a competitive sport and we should all take images where and when motivated; many become mere record shots but hopefully with a little thought, preparation and luck we can create that great shot – the one with the extra dimension or wow factor.

Learning from great practitioners can be inspirational.  Many will know the work of the early photographers which have influenced a great many people.  The work of these people and more recent well known practitioners is readily available on the web these days – whether on their own websites or general sharing sites such as Flickr and Instagram.  Such learning can only go so far; it can help with technique and ways of presenting subject matter.  The greater inspiration, I feel, comes from being out there and experiencing the views, light and conditions.

Beach patterns at Applecross

Recently, I have explored more black and white images which often convey a greater sense of mood in the right conditions.  Monochrome makes the viewer work harder, so the image need to be that much more powerful.

It will be noted that the images included in this post are of the larger landscape variety – a genre which speaks most easily to people.  However, smaller more intimate images can have the same impact – in fact often making one wonder at God’s creation by the beauty of the flower, animal or insect.

I have been asked for some examples of what has inspired my images recently. It may surprise you to know that these are all UK scenes.

An Teallach in the early november light

Firstly, the time that I saw the sun rise over An Teallach, just south of Ullapool in early November.  There was snow on the hills and we had trekked a couple of hours in the dark with head torches and compass to arrive at a knoll looking toward An Teallach at 6.45 am.  Behind us were the great Assynt hills, clearly visible in the morning glow and before us An Teallach in front of the Torridean hills.  As the sun rose, the colours changed from Pinks and Mauves through to golden hues.  We had the beauty of hill shapes and our surroundings compounded by the emotions from the changing colour palette – a truly moving moment, one which causes you to pause and ponder creation in its immense variety and apart from us few, no living person within two miles.  A trek worth the effort!

Wow! corner between Cuaig and Callakille looking south down Inner SOund to Cuillens on Skye

Secondly, our recent trip to Scotland provided a couple of further moments.  There is a point on the Applecross peninsula when travelling from Shieldaig, where the traveller comes over a hill on a bend and sees the Inner Sound, the Isles of Raasay and Rona reaching all the way down to the dominant Cuillen mountains in the south of Skye.  Most travellers had to pull into the car park to take it all in.  The day we walked there from our cottage, the weather was fine and clear with a slight haze forming in the distance.  The absence of people added to the impact of the shot.  Many of my better shots involve water and hills and this place had both!

Torridean hills – panaroma

Further north on that same Shieldaig road, there are several places to take pleasing images of the Torridean Mountains (Beinn Alligin, Liathach, Beinn Eighe etc).


Torridean hills

We travelled this way twice, once when the weather was poor and once very bright.  Both provided great images on the hills from places where we were alone.  The emotional content was provided by the way the hills and mountains responded to conditions in such a harmonious way and the fact that we had the place to ourselves.  Blue sky days are often difficult, but with some cloud cover, the picture gains interest.

Revelation – At St Martha on the Hill, Pilgrims Way near Guildford
Sure Foundation – St Martha on the Hill, Pilgrms Way Nr Guildford

Nearer to home, I visited St Mary at Hill church on a walk from Newlands Corner.  Sitting on the bench outside the church one January afternoon, I was blessed with a break in the clouds and rays of sunshine streaming through, which greatly cheered me.


Dusk on Colonsay
After sunset – Callakille, Applecross
Sunset along Applecross, Skye in background and a deer.
Evening light catching the deer

Lastly, there are the images taken at sunrise or sunset which provide a further level of wonder.  Land which was only a few hours previously swathed in daylight, is now dark but above is the celestial firework display – if you are lucky!  Sunrise is a marvel of how the promise of tomorrow comes true.  Our greater understanding of the science behind these events, gleaned over the centuries, does not lessen their impact for me.

Finally a few images from last year:

Rowley Bristow field, Pyrford – Autumn sowing
Forest scene, Muir of Dinnet, Cairngorms
Cottage at Lone, On the path to Arkle near Loch Stack
Oldshoremore beach at low tide, Surtherland
Geese at Dusk, Pyrford – January 2017


If you would like to see more of these images, please visit my website The choice of images is, of course personal, meaning something to me but I trust you will find some appreciation in the majesty of creation and of our world.