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Bynack More from the North

It was back in 2012 that I took this picture. I am never sure quite why I like it so much. I think it is partly personal; I know the people in the shot and can recognise them easily from their poses and their gaits. These were my friends, had been my friends for years, and have remained close friends ever since. And then it is partly something about the mountain itself and the light. It is neither a very spectacular mountain, nor a very spectacular mountain photo, but that glorious brilliance, filtered through cloud, has a transfiguring quality that for me makes this image special.

Bynack More is one of the most northerly of the Cairngorm Munros, and is especially impressive when seen from the North, looking like the largest and most dominant of the entire range. It isn’t of course, being a relatively humble and easy hill, but it is worth climbing for the excellent views it gives (can give!) across the Cairngorms looking South.

We were staying at the YHA hostel in Aviemore, and chose Bynack More for our first day of walking. It turned out to be a truly great day. If there is one thing better than blue skies it is a mix of blue sky and fairly low level cloud, with the possibility of getting above the mist, or having the sun filtered through or into it with some amazing effects.

The light and the cloud came and went the whole day. Blue skies and traceries of contrails alternated with quite thick cloud and thinner mist with hints of Brocken Spectres. We met a bunch of Scots with a black lab on the top – a merry bit of chat about the forthcoming Indy Referendum (they were fortunately all Unionists) – and we headed across the mountain to pick up a lower top, as I recall. It was a great day and I can remember it well even without the photos.

This shot was taken about two minutes after the other one, as the group came together for a snack (and to wait for me!) before heading up Bynack More’s broad summit ridge. I find it hard to choose between them, but like the visibility of all the gang in the earlier shot.

Tundra-like terrain on the way down. Bynack More and the rest of the Cairngorm massif form Britain’s most important upland area for near-Arctic conditions.

This walk was back in the days when I still lugged full frame SLRs up the hills. Since investing in MFT gear for holidays and hill walking, I don’t often have a beast like the D700 with me. The main featured shot was taken with the Nikkor 50mm 1.4G. Some of the other photos on today’s post were taken with the Sigma 12-24mm zoom.

I usually shoot in Aperture Priority mode. For some reason I had the ISO on the D700 set to 400 – possibly to help my flashes recycle faster while photographing a wedding just before the Cairngorms trip. It is important to check these things – though ISO 400 is not problematic at all for the classic Nikon D700! This shot is a great example of the classic angle of view of a nifty fifty, too.

I don’t know whether my favourite shot this time is one that could command general interest outside of our group. If it is a “just for us” photo I still love it. It brings memories of a glorious day in the hills, of Bynack More, a decent little Munro, and of shooting with a camera that I came to love. That’s enough for me!

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