Highland photographer shares stunning images of the Cairngorms

A Highland photographer has shared his stunning images of the Cairngorms – captured during the harsh winter months.

Outdoor enthusiast Ed Smith has published a book with a collection of 70 pictures taken during the six years he has lived in Kingussie.

The book combines striking imagery captured over many long mountain days and nights, including 16-hour shifts in temperatures as low as -16 degrees.

It celebrates Ed’s 16-year career as an adventure sports and landscape photographer.

Formerly ranked amongst the world’s top 10 whitewater kayakers, Ed is a regular contributor to UK outdoor publications.

‘Selecting images for the book was a real challenge,’ said Ed.

‘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.’

The 80-page book was launched at Ed’s Eleven41 Gallery in Kingussie on 4 August.

The gallery, which opened in 2017, is named after the 1141m Cairn often used for navigation by those exploring the region.

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.”

For further information and to order Northern Cairngorms visit www.edsmithphotography.com

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Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.