Hello everyone, it’s Tom here. I thought I’d pop in to share some of my photos from our recent Hebridean trip to the isle of Berneray (Eilean Bhearnaraigh). As a photographer, I find the ever-changing weather and shifting quality of light in Scotland’s Western Isles really stimulating in my work. On this trip we were blessed with extraordinarily fine weather enabling us to get out and about every day and enjoy the outdoors.

The light on this trip was remarkable at all times of the day. The bright, breezy weather on morning walks along west beach made rainbows appear in the spray of breaking waves…

… as afternoon rain clouds gathered, the light became cool and desaturated, with dramatic big skies.

The views across Bays Loch were especially arresting as the evening closed in and the setting sun created calm tones of pink and blue upon the water…

… before the last rays of sunlight set the sky ablaze.

With fine weather and good light, being out and about also provided the opportunity to photograph some of the local fauna. The seals, basking out in the bay, were clearly making the most of a fine day.

The machair was alive with the distinctive calls of skylarks, lapwings and skittish oystercatchers.

And early each evening, a short-eared owl quietly patrolled the surrounding crofts.

Livestock across the islands were also enjoying the sunshine, and the promise of fresh green growth on the dunes and machair.

. . . and as Berneray’s lambing season had just ended, our friend Meg took us to see some very young Soay lambs on a nearby croft.

As many of you will know, I have a bit of a thing for photographing sheep. Our book, Shetland Oo, featured many sheepy “portraits” amidst the images of the people who work with wool in the Shetland Isles. Shetland sheep, like Hebrideans, are hardy and characterful. But I think I would have to say that these Soay lambs are amongst the most appealing little lambs I have ever photographed.

Soay sheep are a primitive breed descended from the feral sheep native to St Kilda. Small, hardy and agile, the lambs from these sheep are almost deer-like in their appearance – long-legged and nimble. The temptation to scoop one up and take it home was pretty difficult to overcome . . .


. . . though I suspect the carefully protective Soay ewes would have something to say about that!

Our visiting fauna also enjoyed spending each day outside in fine weather and this unique landscape, which we all love more with every visit.

Thanks for reading.

Tom

75 thoughts on “Light and lambs

  1. Like everyone else, I’m struggling to find words. I read this post immediately after Kate’s. I would have expected that her story (oh my goodness, such trust, such a gift!) might have made me cry, since one of my most dearly loved ones struggles with the same condition. But no, it was the dogs on the beach that did it, and I can’t even say why! There is something about the work that you both do — the writing, the photography, the creating of things — that cracks my heart open.

    I am also realizing that your photographs inspire the same creative longing in me as Kate’s knitting does, that feeling that I *must* find out how to make that gorgeous thing! I probably won’t, but the desire launches me on the winding path that leads to my own gorgeous things. I can’t thank you enough for that.

    I hope Kate continues to feel better, inch by hard-won inch. I hope for you all the complicated, inarticulable things I hope for myself as someone who loves and cares for some wonderful people who have chronic mental illnesses. I hope for more beautiful photographs and more brilliant and humane writing and more sheep and wool and knitting and yarn, but truly what you both have already shared is more than enough to be grateful for.

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  2. Just so stunning – a part of the world that is sooo different to my land of Australia. I would love to visit some day. Thank you so much.

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  3. Such beautiful photos Tom, thank you. Those lambs! My husband swears that one of them looked like it was wearing a woolly jumper. Bruce and Bobby looked like they had found heaven and I loved the last one of you and Kate. Be well and happy, all of you.

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  4. I already copied one of these to be my laptop backdrop -I hope you don’t mind, Tom, I’ll buy any calendar you produce! (Hmmm, what about an app that changes the backdrop each month – i’d buy that too!)
    There’s something about your composition, or framing, or tonal choices (not sure which!) which is really special and makes the image really really memorable. they pop, yes, but it’s more the subtle emotional content i think. My throat caught. My absolute top favourite is the third down, the two dogs. it’s the balance, I think, both in shape and colour? surprising!

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  5. we visited the Outer Hebrides two years ago and found it just breathtaking. need to go back and visit soon. thank you for sharing this; hope it’s been a healing visit for you both!

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  6. Thank you for all the beautiful photographs of your visit. I would love to see “lamb cards” available for purchase in the future! ( And sheep, birds, etc. too.)

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  7. Gorgeous photos and subjects – would love to see a calendar.
    I can understand completely the desire to scoop up a little lamb and bring it home!!
    Scotland has always been on my top places to visit and your photos keep reminding me that I’ve got to do it.
    Good to see Bruce and Bobby enjoying the beach.

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  8. I can see how tempting it would be to pick up one these adorable little lambs and bring it home. Thank you for these most beautiful pictures. The light and colors are amazing. The beauty of nature is really awe-inspiring.

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  9. Lovely – the sheep photos are my favorites too. I’ve visited Lewis and Harris, but I’ve not yet been to Berneray – a future trip, I hope.

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  10. Thank you so much for these glorious photographs! I know I will return to them again and again. The beauty and humanity of the images is a balm to my spirit.

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  11. Honestly, Tom, you and Kate should be paid by the Scottish Tourism Board——every post makes me want to visit MORE!!!!

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  12. Tom, your temptation to sweep one of those little lambs up must have been difficult to resist. Thank you for sharing the beautiful scenes which portray tranquility for respite. I keep coming back to look at the lamb as you have taken the most wonderful portraits. Wonderful blog to start and end my day as I came back for another wee look at the lamb

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  13. Soay babies!! I follow a blog here in the states with Soays and they are the funniest most inventive babbies and mothers ever! Great pics, I could almost feel the fleece :) Obviously the 2 boys loved the beach. thanks

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  14. Tom, thank you for sharing your amazing photography with us. I send my love to you and Kate from Fairbanks Alaska, where we are experiencing our 4th ‘winter’ this spring (after several days in the 50’s, we are expecting up to 5 inches of snow this weekend)! I completely understand the quality of light of which you speak, the further north you go, the more amazing the light becomes. After 12 years at the northernmost tip of Alaska, I have seen skies so similar to the ones you photographed that it gives me a bit of ‘saudade’ for the place. Many blessings to you and your lovely partner.

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  15. Tom, Thank you, thank you, thank you a zillion times for sharing your spectacular photos . The colors of the magnificent vistas, your frolicking labs and the sheep and precious lambs have be glowing with joy.

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  16. Many of your shots capture both stillness and motion. I look and then I look again! The 2D surface is always a treat when you are behind the lens, Tom.

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  17. Thank you SO much for sharing these stunning photographs. IF you were ever to consider printing them to sell I would certainly buy one .Thanks again.☺

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  18. Love the photos. In Sudbury, Ontario, it is a far cry from spring. It snowed and freezing drizzled on Wednesday so that it took over 1/2 an hour to get the 3 inch thick layer of solid ice off my windshield. Today, the snow has all melted and I have hope of a crocus.

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  19. Thank you for these gorgeous photos, Tom. If one can’t there, it really is the next best thing. And the colors… Just extraordinary!

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  20. Such a wonderful place for rest and renewal. I love all your pictures of this beautiful island. Great to see Bruce and Bobby enjoying it so much too. All the best to you and Kate and sending best wishes and good thoughts for Kate’s continued improvement in her health. I miss her thoughts and writings but after reading her message this week I understand why it is a long process and that spending time in the outdoors in places like this will do so much to help the recovery along. Best wishes. Doreen.

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  21. Thank you Tom for the beautiful photos, the lambs are certainly enduring and a reminder of the innocence of nature. Keep sharing with us and thank you for loving and caring for Kate. She is a gift to our world as you are. Also love the doggies!!! PS: We are still having a bit of winter here in Marquette on the shores of Lake Superior!

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  22. I so want to visit Scotland next year. I want to see every nook and cranny of it; every little sheep; every little lamb. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

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  23. What spectacular photos, and thanks so much for including them. The Hebrides and all the Scottish islands for that matter are incredibly beautiful. I’ve had the good fortune to sail in and around them and even though I live on an island (off the coast of Massachusetts) those islands are the most beautiful in the world. Good luck and good fortune to all who live and/or work there.

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  24. Your photos soothe my soul, I can feel the calm, the peace and serenity. I’m almost there.
    So beautiful, thank you x

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  25. Outstnding photos (as always)! That one with the pink and blue on the water at sunset is breathtaking. And the lambs!

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  26. Fantastic photos. Thanks for sharing. Never been to the Western Isles, but was a regular visitor to the very north coast of Sutherland as we had relatives there and the ever changing light was wonderful

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  27. Thank you Tom , your photographs have made me homesick in a bittersweet way,I’ve recently moved to North Wales,I’m happy here but I do miss the Highlands and Islands.

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  28. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos, Tom! So glad you all have such beautiful sights to see and such a wonderful landscape to wander! Thank you so much for sharing :)

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  29. Such beautiful photos – and the lambs are adorable. We spotted Soay sheep and lambs when friends drove us through the Cheddar Gorge last weekend. We saw goats first, then someone noticed that there were sheep too. I had no idea that there were feral Soay sheep there.

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  30. Dear Tom, your photos take me right there. I love Scotland dearly, I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks more than 20 years ago and my love for the country has not waned since. I drink in the images and just feel the fresh breeze you write about. Thank you!

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  31. Fabulous photographs – I can well understand you wanting to take home one of those gorgeous lambs. You have made Scotland my number one country to visit. Thank you both.

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    1. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing these photos with us. Yes, I too would have a hard time not taking a lamb home!

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