Scottish Nature Photographer's Photos Prove That Persistence Pays Off

Scottish Nature Photographer's Photos Prove That Persistence Pays Off

Fstoppers recently covered a vlog that detailed the benefits of repeatedly photographing the same location. And now we have further proof that repetition can pay off in photography, this time from the Scottish countryside.

Scottish nature photographer Sinclair Cunningham has been visiting the  same location for years. Though this location is his personal favorite, he keeps looking for new photographic perspectives on one landscape that he's grown quite familiar with.

aurora borealis over the Kissing Trees in Scotland

Aurora Borealis

This particular spot in the Scottish countryside exhibits a special attraction, one fondly named by locals "The Kissing Trees." Take a look at the photos below and you'll see exactly how these entwined duos of nature got their name.

Sinclair has been visiting the trees since early childhood, and began photographing them six years ago after receiving advice to keep shooting one subject or area repetitively.

What's the benefit to photographing the same place over and over? It may seem counter-intuitive, since typically we often feel that we've "conquered" a subject by creating something worthwhile of it. But by returning and making something unique, we are forcing our minds to be malleable and creative. This strategy brings us out of the box of everyday shooting, and reminds us that unique perspective, timing, and framing can be employed wherever we go. In other words, this exercise keeps us from constantly shooting in a uniform, predictable style.

The area has offered many other unique photographic opportunities.

a cow in a sunset landscape

In an email to me, Mr. Sinclair described how this area has been the source of various photographic opportunities spanning a wide array of gorgeous natural phenomena. In just this one spot, Cunningham has witnessed and captured with his camera "aurora, noctilucent clouds, 22 degree halo, snowscapes (they are pretty inaccessible during heavy snow!), light painting, rain reflections, star trails, the Milky Way, sunsets and sunrises — the list goes on!"

the Scottish Kissing Trees over a wintery pond

If you were to glance at these images briefly and not notice the repetition of the trees' presence, you might not realize that these photographs were all taken from roughly the same place. Obviously, Cunningham's creative use of framing, timing and angle has allowed for a wide array of styles. In one image, he even switches it up and uses his car's side view mirror as an unlikely focal point.

trees in a rearview mirror of a car

When asked what inspired the above photo in the rearview mirror, Cunningham wrote to me "This came about as I had made yet another journey up to the trees at sunset and was struggling to find a fresh composition. The idea popped into my head and I positioned the car so I could include the yellow rapeseed crops out of focus in the background which, along with the grass, mimicked the tones of the sunset/grass in the mirror looking back."

a rainbow over the Kissing Trees in Scotland

In one of nature's rarer moments, Mr. Cunningham recently captured a stunning pink-hued rainbow arcing over the landscape. Making the image even more magical, one end of the rainbow landed smack dab behind the famous trees. Cunningham produces a calendar every year to showcase his work, and is considering including this iconic shot in the 2020 edition.

Do you have a go-to location for inspiration that you find yourself returning to over and over? Please share your photos in the comments section below.

All images used with permission by Sinclair Cunningham. You can follow his photography on Facebook or Instagram.

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8 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

For sure! It's a comment that I leave quite often with landscape shots that lack a bit of oomph. Saying something like visiting the same site at Sunrise or Sunset or on a day when there is some great cloud cover to add drama. I shot from a friend's 7th floor balcony and got a lot of ho hum shots until the Sun was below the horizon. The sky came to life and made a part of Winnipeg look 'exotic'. :-)

Sergey Kosarevsky's picture

Absolutely! Visiting the same location on different days brings entirely different perception of reality.

Oh my god, imagine my reaction loading up the fstoppers front page to see the Kissing Trees! I live less than 2 miles away from them and photograph them regularly! They really aren't massively famous either, lots of photographers from even the local area don't know where they are! Incredible :)

Alan Brown's picture

Wonderful shot Scott. Hopefully the area is not inundated with tourists now.

Some of the rest of the set>>>

and some more...

Stuart Carver's picture

Funnily enough i head back to one of my first ever photo locations just last night, the difference over 2 years is stark, from technique to editing its worlds away.

Leopold Bloom's picture

Absolutely stunning photos. They make me reconsider the idea of photographing one subject repeatedly. I once did it almost every day for one year but the results hadn't been that compelling and so I stopped the project.