Scotland Through A Lens: Vinny Keenan – April 2023

Reporter Simone Waters speaks with Vinny Keenan about his landscape photography, as featured in the April edition of Scottish Field magazine. 

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Vinny Keenan. I’m 55 and I’ve been a landscape photographer for 16 years. I live in Argyll and Bute, in between Loch Long and the Gare Loch.

What influences your photography?

It’s the area itself that influences me. It’s the mountains and the lochs. I like loch photography because of the way the light is. There’s different light all the time because there are a lot of clouds and it always creates different types of light. My main influence is the actual scenery over the mountains and the water.

I use quite a lot of photography apps to find out where the best light is. I also check what the weather is going to be like. Obviously where I live, I get the northern lights too, so I use a lot of apps like PhotoPills [an app that helps you plan your images ahead of time]. It’s quite well-known and is used by many photographers. Then of course there are the weather apps to make sure the weather is going to be good.

Mist is very present in your images. How do you achieve such amazing results, when other people might just capture grey?

When I look out of my window in the morning I can tell if it’s going to be misty or not because I can see if the loch [Loch Long] is really still. Basically, if there is a good variance in the temperature, it tends to be misty. Usually if there has been a clear sky and it has been calm with no wind, there’s a good chance of mist. So, that’s when I know to get out my gear. Loch Long is just a couple of minutes away from me so it’s pretty handy – it only takes me about 10 minutes to get to a location where I can get a shot of something.

I also take shots from above the hills and you usually get a mist inversion that will come up the lochs. So, it’s just the top of the hills that are peaking through the mist. I also managed to get what is called a ‘brocken spectre’, which is your reflection projected in the clouds. The sun shines your reflection back into the clouds below you which creates a halo around you. My dog’s actually in my brocken spectre, but you can’t really see the dog because he stood up on his back legs on my side!

What are you trying to capture in your photographs?

I usually look for adverse weather conditions for my pictures. I like moody pictures and I get a lot of nice comments about that through social media. A lot of people say that the pictures make them feel emotional, especially if they are ex-pats from Scotland – they say that they’d like to come back. But I am looking for an emotional element in the pictures. I’m always looking for something a bit moody. I don’t like blue skies. I like clouds and adverse weather conditions.

Do you have a favourite location to photograph?

Probably one of my favourite locations is Kilchurn Castle. It’s not that far a drive for me but it is one of my go-to places because the light there is always stunning, especially in the early morning or evening light. I have taken some really great pictures there. And because you have the castle, you get a nice reflection of the castle in the water or of the mist.

What does photography give you other than beautiful images?

Landscape photography is a good way of relaxing, unless the light is changing (which is the only time you’re frantic). The rest of the time it’s quite a relaxing pastime. There’s just that silence as well when you are there. It gives you a chance to relax and think and just enjoy nature.

To see more of Vinny’s work, please visit his Facebook page.