I defy anyone to look at the front cover of the beautiful The Secret Life of the Cairngorms and not have a wee smile on their face.
Illustrated with a stunning selection of Andy Howard’s photographs, the book celebrates the wildlife and landscape of the Cairngorms National Park in all its glory.
Anyone who has visited the Cairngorms is perhaps most struck by the expansiveness of the panoramic horizons, which gives the viewer a sense of the area’s seemingly limitless space.
But the exquisite images in this book remind us of what we miss if we don’t stop to appreciate the tiny but vibrant life at our feet.
Split into sections such as ‘Lochs and Rivers’ and ‘Woodlands and Forest’, the book illustrates the infinite amount of patience required to capture such rare and fleeting moments of drama and fun in nature.
The collection of images of the agile, nimble and cheeky red squirrel are among some of the most charming in the book.
Howard manages to capture their individual characters perfectly, while the images of the majestic red deer stag staring directly down the camera lens are powerful and surprisingly moving in their stillness and beauty.
The insightful Field Notes which are dotted throughout the book tell the technical story of how Howard managed to capture such precious snapshots of life in the Cairngorms. Even the most incompetent photographer (I’m a point, clicking and hope for the best gal) will enjoy the detail of how Howard set up his shots.
However, the text is not overwhelmed by high-tech, photography terms, and instead is balanced by Howard recalling humorous anecdotes while refl ecting on some particularly distinctive memories from his career.
From narrowly avoiding attack by an angry capercaillie to being followed by police at half past one in the morning while on a black grouse shoot, Howard has truly seen it all.
It is, however, Howard’s remarkable photography skills which remain the star of this book.
The Secret Life of the Cairngorms, by Andy Howard, published by Sandstone Press, £24.99.