Ward Hill panorama January 2016

I have long been fascinated by a derelict cottage lying secluded in the Rackwick valley at the base of the Dwarfie Hamars escarpment on Hoy. On one of my photography trips to the island I eventually built in enough spare time to investigate this abandoned croft. As I crossed the boggy valley floor and approached the spot I quickly realised that what I thought were windows were actually two wooden square boards and the ‘cottage’ was in fact a large rectangle-shaped rock slab. This place has been used for target practice, I thought, and felt cheated that my little idyllic croft was only an illusion. Feeling a bit flat and foolish, I decided to reinvigorate myself by climbing the steep escarpment behind the rock slab. I climbed towards the Dwarfie Hamars, then stopped and looked back. The panoramic view over the valley towards Ward Hill was mesmerising. On the left I could see the sea at Rackwick, on the right, Scapa Flow and in the middle, the 1600 foot rounded hump of Ward Hill. Thinking that this would make a captivating panoramic photo I set up my tripod to take some images to combine later into a panoramic. There was only one snag, and it was a fairly significant one – it was cloudy and the grey sky was not helped by the flat, colourless summer foliage. Then I thought about how the vibrant russet browns of winter and a fresh sugary coating of snow would transform this view. Two years later in January 2016 I returned to the same spot to capture my preconceived shot.