Taking a landscape photograph is a highly technical exercise. There is a lot of electronic wizardry involved in the camera, a great deal of brilliantly thought out engineering involved in the tripod and inspired software to turn all the digital information you collected into a pleasing image.
All this technology is reliant on one important analogue component. The one bit that is the most problematic and risky. Or as an IT friend put it rather succinctly – the squidgy bit. All the electronic and engineering cleverness is rendered moot when it comes up against the squidgy interface.
I have driven the 17 miles along the up and down , in and out, twisty and windy single track road to Elgol as fast as I could to catch a sunset over the Cuillins. I have raced past jaywalking sheep spattering them with the poo they have recently left on the road. I have screeched to a halt in passing places as cars have come the other way seemingly unconcerned at my urgency. Weren’t they aware of the speed the sun is sinking at? Did they not care? I have given them a perfunctory wave and dropped the clutch on a revving engine spinning wheels frantically and sprinted off to the next passing place. I have gritted my teeth and repeated a mantra of “patience, patience” as I trundled through Elgol at 30mph heading for the pier car park. It seemed to take an age, an eternity, an eon. The sun has stopped sinking and started to plunge towards the mountain tops.
On arrival, with moments to spare I have charged out of the car, only just remembering to let the Assistants out of the boot, and sprinted across the hill behind the pier to the cliff edge. I have torn at my backpack to get my filters out. I have fumbled feverishly to attach the filter holder to the lens. I have rammed the filters in, barely checking to see if they are the right way up. I have raised my tripod as quickly as I could whilst only drawing blood on two fingers. I have placed the camera onto the tripod, connected my remote release, paused, composed the shot, peered through the lens, focused and adjusted the settings on the camera… but wait, the screen on top of the camera where all the shutter speed, f-stop and ISO information should be was blank… I have taken a cleansing breath to quell my rising panic and checked I had switched on the camera. I have but nothing was happening. Then the slow rising panic accelerates into a dread realisation. There was no battery in the camera. I scrambled through my bag. There was no battery there. I sat on the grass beside my powerless and redundant gear as the Assistants wander happily around the shore below me. I watched the sun set slowly, gracefully, spectacularly and colourfully behind the peaks.
On other occasions you could repeat the above, say at Tokavaig and substitute filter adaptor ring for battery. Maybe you would prefer Badacaul and compact flash card? Or how about Lusa bay and trip to accident and emergency?