Michael Stirling-Aird


Landscape photography is one of my passions, and I've been learning the craft of making images for over 20 years.  This is work in progress, and will always be!  Mountain photography is something I'm particularly drawn to, and most of my work has been in the Scottish Highlands.  The majority of images on this website are from long day trips, usually descending after sunset, or the best of all - summit camps.  

The geology of the Scottish Highlands is fascinating, and offers boundless opportunities to find interesting shapes, textures, patterns and colours.  I am inspired by being outdoors in wild places, opening my mind, and following my instinct. There is something incredibly special about being out in our landscapes, preferably in the mountains, and to see, hear, and feel the wonderful displays of calmness, colour, change or power which nature provides. I strive to make images that reflect these moments in some way, making use of nature's wide array of ingredients. I'm convinced that immersing yourself in the landscape fuels creativity, though it is also important not to be too physically/mentally tired.  

I feel that Scotland offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, and we owe it to future generations to respect the landscape, and allow it to evolve in its own way, especially our wild/more remote landscapes.  I want to dedicate what spare time I can to making images of this fabulous part of the world, and helping to tell part of its story through my lens.  

Viewers will notice that many of my images have a foreground that leads into the distance; this is deliberate in an attempt to create a connection within the scene.  It is also, in my view, a good representation of what it would be like to experience the moment - distant views are included, but so are the features, textures and shapes within the foreground, and these are often equally beautiful.  

The majority of images have been made using a 'view camera' which allows better control of perspective, something that I value, especially for certain wider landscapes.  Drum scanned 5 x 4 inch transparencies or a medium format digital back ensures that the final prints are of superb quality - with beautiful colours and tones, and a very natural representation of textures.  The prints have a very natural and organic feel, and viewers can immerse themselves in the image, and its components.  

I typically only use two lenses - the 35mm equivalent focal lengths are 25mm and 50mm i.e. moderately wide angle and standard focal lengths.  My staple camera is a Linhof Techno, a field camera designed for architectural photography.  Use of a view camera distills the process to its simplest elements; a box, a lens that needs to be focused, and the choice of shutter speed, aperture and ISO.  It requires a careful, thoughtful approach to image making.  Even when conditions are wild, it forces the user to slow down.  This 'effort' in turn forces me to better consider what I'm trying to achieve.  Camera movements such as rise/fall/tilt can be used as part of this process.  

Drum scanned transparencies (mostly Fuji velvia and Provia) are adjusted for colour/contrast in Photoshop, and I use Capture One to process raw files.  As digital technology has improved, the good news is that the need for image processing has dramatically reduced.