Photo Feature: Cloud Island by Morten Hansen

Skye may be famous for its spectacular mountain and coastal scenery, but it's also well known for mist and rain - indeed, its name derives from the Norse for isle of cloud or misty isle. The island weather presents a challenge to photographers, but also an opportunity. In his new book Skye, Cloud Island, photographer Morten Hansen has made a virtue of the mist and rain.

Skye Cloud Island cover  © Morten Hansen

"I have been pressing shutter buttons on cameras as long as I can remember, but it was only when I moved to Skye in 2011 it became more than a hobby" says Morten.

"The incredible thing about Scotland in general, and Skye in particular, is the amount of different landscapes in such a small area. And whereas many people lament the weather on Skye, I consider the cloudy conditions one of its greatest assets for creating atmospheric pictures. With this book, I decided to embrace the cloud."

Am Basteir

Am Basteir  © Morten Hansen
Am Basteir
© Morten Hansen

Sgurr nan Gillean is probably my favourite peak on Skye, there isn't an easy way up, but there isn't a boring one either. The summit itself is somewhat small, which means the views over the surrounding peaks are phenomenal, with no distracting elements. This is looking towards another great summit, Am Basteir, which was totally covered 5 minutes before this picture was taken. The sun bursting through and creating this scene was probably the most magical I've experienced as a photographer.

Inaccessible Pinnnacle

In Pinn  © Morten Hansen
In Pinn
© Morten Hansen

Without doubt the most iconic summit on the Cuillin ridge, presenting the full scale of this monster is a challenge. I have taken many pictures hare, but on this occasion I was helped by the light hitting Sgurr Alasdair in the background. I think this helps to set the pinnacle apart.

Cold Man of Storr

Old Man of Storr in winter  © Morten Hansen
Old Man of Storr in winter
© Morten Hansen

Skye is unfortunately not blessed with brilliant winter conditions, so when the snow cover does happen, it's worthwhile heading out. This pinnacle is incredibly photogenic no matter where you shoot it from, but snow lends it another level of otherworldliness.

Great Stone Chute

Great Stone Chute  © Morten Hansen
Great Stone Chute
© Morten Hansen

The Great Stone Chute on Sgurr Alasdair is many things. It's obvious, it's the most direct route to Skye's highest point, it's difficult to get lost on (even with Skye weather), and when covered in snow, you can return to Coire Lagan in no time using a plastic bag under your bum. There are better ways to summit Sgurr Alasdair, but the view from the top of it towards the Inaccessible Pinnacle makes it look like one of the greater ranges.

Ridge Inversion

Inversion on the ridge  © Morten Hansen
Inversion on the ridge
© Morten Hansen

One of the advantages of the cloud abundance on Skye is the relative frequency of inversions. The day started with the clag surrounding myself, not to mention the peaks. When climbing the final pinnacle on Pinnacle Ridge (Sgurr nan Gillean itself), the individual peaks stood out as little islands.

Glamaig

Glamaig  © Morten Hansen
Glamaig
© Morten Hansen

Scene of the annual torture pilgrimage, also known as the Glamaig hill race, this mountain seems to actually attract scree. Despite being a fantastic viewpoint, it can fortunately also be captured from the road - or, as in this case, from the river less than 5 minutes from the road.

Old Man of Storr

An Instagram favourite, this location has nearly everything going for it. Easy access, spectacular central pillars, and the incredible Cuillin range in the background. It also lends itself to a simple portrait on a foggy day, with the pinnacles disappearing into the background. Spot the lone walker on the left hand side for scale.

Old Man of Storr  © Morten Hansen
Old Man of Storr
© Morten Hansen


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