Highland Photographer Captures Beauty of Northern Cairngorms
A Highland photographer has unveiled his ‘personal and unique’ perspective of the Northern Cairngorms.
‘Northern Cairngorms’ captures a collection of almost 70 images depicting the six years Kingussie-based Ed Smith has lived and worked in the area, many taken during the harsh yet stunning winter months.
The 80-page book was launched at Ed’s Eleven41 Gallery in Kingussie this evening (4 August 2023). The gallery, which opened in 2017, is named after the 1141m Cairn often used for navigation by those exploring the region.
Divided into four sections – Plateaus and Peaks, Amongst the Clouds, Water and Ice and Forest and Foliage – the book combines striking imagery captured over many long mountain days and nights, including 16-hour shifts in temperatures as low as -16 degrees. Complimenting the imagery, short creative texts explore Ed’s insights, Night Sky aurora-chasing and his recent portrait project, ‘Characters of the Cairngorms’.
The book celebrates Ed’s 16-year, acclaimed career as an adventure sports and landscape photographer with a lifelong passion for and connection with the great outdoors. Formerly ranked amongst the world’s top 10 whitewater kayakers, Ed is a regular contributor to UK outdoor publications and has been widely published in the broader media, from UK papers and supplements to international titles. Amongst many others, clients such as Helly Hansen, Rab Equipment and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity entrust Ed with their photographic requirements.
Ed said, “Selecting images for the book was a real challenge. I was keen to feature not only those I am most proud of but also those which depict the striking range of landscapes we enjoy here in the Northern Cairngorms. Although each is different from the last, they all tell their own story and document the era we see before us.
“Venturing out into the Cairngorms in the depths of winter is a job and privilege like no other. The challenge of shifting conditions is where the greatest opportunities are found. I quite often start in the dark and end in the dark, sometimes with up to 20kg of gear on my back, including a tripod and ice axe and my bivvy bag for camping out. Yet, with the landscape in front of you, it becomes your world – at that point, it’s possible to create much more compelling photography.
“Of course, while the best shots tend to come from the most dramatic weather, you can end up on the wrong side of the conditions and I have, on occasion, turned back. One winter excursion springs to mind when I got up to the edge of the Cairngorm plateau at about 5am in appalling visibility with my eyebrows already frozen, despite there being little wind. I’d ascended into the cloud, putting me in what felt like an eerily quiet, white room with no perspective or vision beyond my own hands. There had also been fresh snow overnight, so there weren’t even any other tracks to lock onto for definition, just the odd rock.
“However, for those drawn to these mountains, the energy we gain among the summits and the wilderness far outweighs the energy we expend. To channel that into every stride of every adventure and everyday life beyond is so powerful and a privilege I am exceptionally grateful for.”
Recognising the ‘heroic’ commitment to those who venture out to experience the region, £2 from the sale of each book will be donated to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team.
Ed said, “Through the book, I hope to encourage others to immerse themselves in this majestic landscape – to step outside, look to the hills, go on their own journey to the wilderness, but to do so safely and responsibly, leaving no trace.
“Every time I’m out in the Cairngorms in tricky conditions, I often think about Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and the fact that these volunteers might find themselves operating in blizzards in the middle of the night. Waking to an emergency call and stepping out of the door to go to the aid of a stranger in such conditions is nothing short of heroic. The fact that it is done with such knowledge, rigorous training and the accumulation of vast experience puts it at the absolute pinnacle of dedication and selflessness. Whilst I follow their lead and never approach the mountains without experience, training, and knowledge, the silent peace of mind their presence offers to both myself and my family when I’m spending time amongst our local hills is invaluable.”
For further information and to order Northern Cairngorms (ISBN: 978-1-7394328-0-5), visit www.edsmithphotography.com or call 07772170970. To collect in person, visit Eleven41 Gallery, 35 High Street, Kingussie, PH21 1HX.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Ed Smith: Ed’s journey into professional photography began 16 years ago. While travelling with his kayak and camera, magazines and manufacturers started purchasing Ed’s images for their content and advertising. He has since established himself as a highly regarded adventure sports and landscape photographer, with a reputation for his creativity and sense of humour while working in extreme environments or across long distances. From sleeping in snow holes and skiing alpine couloirs to adventure races and kayaking some of the world’s finest whitewater, Ed has been to some unforgettable places with his camera.
A passion for photography and the outdoors and a strong desire for progression have defined Ed’s perspective and allowed his work to develop a unique storytelling quality. After gathering experience from numerous legends of the photographic world, Ed graduated with a first-class BA(Hons) in Press and Editorial Photography from Falmouth University in 2011. In 2014 he received a distinction to become an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and, in 2023, became an Accredited Member of the Association Of Photographers (AOP).
As a regular contributor to UK outdoor publications, Ed has also been widely published in the broader media, from UK papers and supplements such as The Telegraph and The Sunday Times Magazine to numerous international titles. Amongst many others, clients such as Helly Hansen, Rab Equipment and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity entrust Ed with their photographic requirements. As an experienced printer and curator, Ed is equally at home in the processing room or an exhibition space, printing his own limited edition photographs and often planning exhibits in Eleven41 Gallery.
When not weighed down with photography gear, Ed is proficient across the spectrum of adventure sports. In his spare time, he gets stuck into his own adventures, whether kayaking, cycling, skiing, climbing or running, but he is rarely spotted without his camera in hand.