Jenny Cameron

Professional Landscape Photographer known for her unique, creative and evocative style based in the northern Scottish Highlands.

Posts tagged ‘filters’

Step-up rings simply explained without techy jargon

What is a Step-up Ring?

A Step-up ring is basically a thin metal or plastic ring which increases the lens diameter. Simply screws directly onto your lens then the adapter ring for your chosen filter screws on top. This allows you to attach a larger filter size so you don’t have to buy or carry multiple filters for each of your different sized lenses.

It doesn’t have to break the bank balance?

Have you been put off going down the filter route for fear of it being too costly as you have different sized lenses and don’t wish to break the bank buying separate filters for each? How about if I told you there is a way you can use one filter on multiple lenses? Simply find your largest thread size and purchase a Step-up ring/s for the rest.

How to measure your lens for the correct filter size.

It may seem obvious, however for newbies just starting out this can be very confusing. So, for the avoidance of doubt- Lens diameter is not the same as focal length. Lens diameter is a physical measurement on the front part of your lens. On my Canon lens the diameter is etched on the inside of the front of the lens ( image example below). Identifiable by a circle with a line right through the middle with a number at the side, this is the measurement needed to select the correct filter size- Alternatively, you could go old school and get your ruler out to measure the diameter in millimetres.

What to buy?

When buying Step-up ring/s, the goal is to find the thinnest and strongest compound if you want the best optical quality in the final image. If the ring is too thick it makes the gap between lens and filter too wide which causes all types of issues from vignette, sharpness is compromised, possibility of light leaking. The Haida ones I use are Aluminium and I’ve never had any problems. One more tip, to avoid vignetting, make sure the filter size is larger than the lens size.

Is it possible to stack Step-up rings?

Yes, it is possible to stack Step-up rings on top of each other, however this is something I highly do not recommend as it increases the distance between filter and lens which can cause vignetting and/or ghosting. All in all bad practice!

To conclude

Step-up rings are probably the cheapest photography accessory I own and the most useful. Well worth investing in and will save you some pennies but make sure it’s good quality, don’t go for the cheapest.

If you would like to view my work; Follow me on Facebook , Instagram , Viewbug YouPic & 1X.

I hope you found this helpful and simple to understand. Any further questions/advice I’m more than happy to help.

Haida Anti-fog belt

Haida Anti-Fog belt- Perfect solution for astrophotography & extreme temperature photography. @jennycameron 2021.

“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2021.

Haida NanoPro Magnetic ND 1.8 & NanoPro Magnetic Polariser test review Featured


Welcome to my test review– Haida NanoPro Magnetic ND 1.8 (6 stops) and a Haida NanoPro Magnetic Circular Polariser (CPL). Testing for sharpness, magnetic attraction strength, ergonomics, vignette, colour cast and practicalities.

As a landscape photographer– Over the years I’ve learnt the importance of investing in a good quality filter set if you truly want to hone in on your in-camera creativity. I`d go as far to say neutral density filters are almost as necessary as having a decent tripod. It’s something you can buy a bit at a time to build a collection to suit your needs. However, choosing the correct not only brand but these days the correct family (magnetic, round, square, rear-lens etc…) can be the tricky part. Hopefully, I can offer a little help.


I planned a few days photography trip in the far north western mountains here in Scotland with a couple of friends and thought it would be an ideal opportunity to put these beauties through their paces. After testing Haida’s Interchangeable Magnetic VND filters earlier this year- which I fell head over heels in love with for their practicalities and super sharp imagery, I wanted to see if the bar was set as high with the rest of the Magnetic ND family.

Equipment used– Canon 5d mark iv body, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii) lens, Gitzo Systematic 5 series Tripod and ball-head. Haida filters. Software- Adobe Creative Cloud.

Meet the Magnetic family

Magnetic Adapter Ring

Constructed entirely from aluminium for strength and light-weight. I have to commend Haida on the super slim design- From my experience, this helps with any unnecessary vignettes when shooting at wide angles. It screws really smoothly and with ease onto your lens. What I really love about this design is the ability to be able to leave it on your lens permanently so it won’t get misplaced or lost. Once this is in place you’re ready to start adding filters which is done in seconds. It takes longer to get a filter out of your bag than it does putting it on.

Sizes available= 52- 82mm. Step-up rings are also available in sizes 67-77mm and 77-82mm. I’m using an 82mm on my Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii) lens.

Magnetic Adapter ring

Magnetic lens cap

What I love about this- If you leave the magnetic adapter ring on your lens you can simply pop on the magnetic lens cap and pack away conveniently in your bag- knowing everything is secured and less time consuming for your next shoot. These are sold separately and not included with a single filter -However, it is included in the kit.

Haida NanoPro Magnetic neutral density (ND) 1.8

Haida NanoPro Magnetic ND 1.8 (6 stops) stacked on top of Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL.

We will start by looking at the ND 1.8 which is a 6 stop, meaning the light will be reduced by 6 stops of light- Essentially sun glasses for your lens and comes in different strengths. For me personally, as a landscape photographer this is my go-to filter for anything moving- Example- Wispy clouds, to smooth down fast flowing water or waterfalls, creating a dreamy effect. It’s used to darken the whole image evenly from top to bottom and-that allows you to use a wider aperture or slower shutter speed than you would without the filter. This achieves very pleasing results as you have more creative control with depth of field and convey movement in a beautiful motion. Typically used for long exposure photography. Also, very useful for a cinematic look in video making which I spoke about in my previous blog post and video if you’d like to learn more.

Once you start going past a 2 stop ND filter on a wide angle lens you start getting into obvious unwanted vignettes’ and strange colour cast territories’. I can happily confirm from my findings- No vignette, consistent tonality/ contrast with no colour shift (neutrality) and no loss of sharpness from corner to corner in the final raw files which speak for themselves in the images below.

Images below-showing straight-out-of-camera (Canon 5d mark iv and Canon 16-35mm USM L Lens) @16mm without/with Haida NanoPro Magnetic ND 1.8. No post-processing on either other than lens correction in Lightroom. Demonstrating how the filter has retained every bit of sharpness. Without filter- ISO 100, F8, 1/30 With 6 stop ND filter- ISO 100, F8, 2 seconds.

Without/with filter

Finally post-processed in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Edited in Adobe Creative Cloud


Sizes– Available in sizes 52- 82mm.

ConstructionThe frame part is constructed from Aerospace Aluminium making it super strong and extremely light weight. The glass is made from high quality K9 optical glass for clarity and colour fidelity with a NanoPro coating.

Weight– 18g based on 82mm filter.


  • Magnetic attraction.
  • Lightweight.
  • No light leakages.
  • Low profile filtration.
  • Quick to install and switch filters.
  • NanoPro coating, helps prevent dirt/smudges from adhering to the glass, reduced reflections, scratch resistant, waterproof, fingerprint, oil-proof and cleaning efficiency.
  • Fully compatible and interchangeable with magnetic filters from other brands.
  • Magnetic metal lens cap.

Ergonomics’- The downsides of glass filters are they are more prone to scratches and finger print smudges. On location before starting the video for this evaluation, without thinking I stupidly sprayed midge repellent on my hands then picked up a filter- Leaving a thin coat of oil all over! Thankfully with a soft microfibre cloth it was easy to wipe off thanks to the NanoPro coating on the filter. The magnetic strip around the edges acts like a light seal meaning no light leakage whatsoever- It’s a win win innovation. Speed of use and convenience is high on my list, watch my video to see how easy installation is. The ability to add/swop filters fast can make or break a potentially great image as you’re not wasting time screwing on the adapter ring then filter holder, followed by filters, it can be time consuming and often frustrating when the light is moving fast-its that rabbit in the headlights feeling. No more struggling to screw on filters in the winter with numb hands. You can stack up to 4 magnetic filters with this system including other brand magnetic filters. Making stacking filters the easiest we’ve ever had. When you’re finished shooting and ready to pack away you can leave the adapter ring on and put the magnetic lens cap over the top, making life even more convenient for your next composition.

Haida NanoPro Magnetic Circular Polariser

What is a Circular Polariser and how does it work?

My favourite of all the filters has always been the Polariser, often referred to as a CPL ( Circular Polariser/Linear). A vital piece of kit every photographer should have and something which cannot be mimicked with digital tricks no matter how good you are. I really cannot stress enough the importance for the majority of photography genres. All in all you really cannot go wrong investing in a good quality polariser.

I’m no light Scientist and Physics was my worst subject at school- Therefore I won`t attempt a full technical breakdown of how it works, in my mind it’s pure magic! Sorry, in all seriousness it really is science- The basic job of a polariser is to help block out reflective light.

Polarisers tend to get labelled to landscape photography- However, it is not the case and a misconception. They are perfect for nature photographers to cut out some water reflection so you can often see right through to the river bed. Ideal for Macro on insects with shiny bodies &/or water droplets. Wildlife for showing convoluted detail/textures and vibrant colours. Portraiture-on someone’s sweaty brow or wearing glasses. Architecture- reflections from windows. Great if you’re ever shooting a subject through your car window or at the Zoo/Aquarium behind glass, a polariser will be your best friend. Overall, saturation is beautifully increased, cuts through haze, produces amazing contrast, darkens blue skies, especially great with the greens on wet foliage, misty rainbows are made more vivid. My favourite of all is on animal fur, white/light coloured in particular- Basically any reflective surface other than metal a Polariser will give an instant pop to any image.

However, there are some caveats, they only work at certain angles ( told you its magic!). When the sun is positioned either directly in front of or behind the lens the polariser will not work- So, you have to look 90 degrees to your side so the sun is perpendicular to your lens then start rotating the filter and you’ll instantly see the polarising effect.

A common problem of polarisers on wide angle lenses is they don’t give the full effect over the entire image, so for example you would have the effect on say the left side but not the right side and vice versa or other random areas. This is not something I’ve ever experienced with any Haida filters, it tends to be more on the budget brands but it’s something I keep in mind and always test for with new filters.

Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL on top of Magnetic adapter ring

Always remember with any filter – it brings into the equation a fourth dimension to the exposure triangle. With a Polariser you will generally lose between 1-2 stops of light. As you can see in the comparison EXIF data below, I have lost around 1.5 stops.

Images below-showing straight-out-of-camera (Canon 5d mark iv and Canon 16-35mm USM L Lens) @16mm without/with Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL filter. No post-processing on either other than lens correction in Lightroom. Demonstrating how the filter has retained every bit of sharpness and controlled highlights. Without filter- ISO 100, F11, 1/15 With CPL filter- ISO 100, F11, 1/6.

Without/ with Haida NanoPro Magnetic Circular Polariser

Finally post-processed in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Edited in Adobe Creative Cloud.


Sizes– Available in sizes 52- 82mm. I’m using the 82mm as my lens is a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii). -Step-up rings also available in sizes 67-77mm and 77-82mm.

Construction-The frame part is constructed from Aerospace Aluminium making it super strong and extremely light weight. The glass is made from high quality K9 optical glass for clarity and colour fidelity with a NanoPro coating.

Weight- 23g based on a 82mm filter.

ErgonomicsI have to say how solid it feels in my hand for the size with a good textured grip round the circumference with no harsh edges and smooth as butter rotation on the polariser, such a lovely sleek design. I found the practicalities continue with my Equine work where I often work off tripod I was able to achieve a fast enough shutter speed with the polariser on. By leaving on the magnetic adapter ring and using the magnetic lens cap ( as demonstrated in the video below)-It gave me the ability to quickly pop on the polariser if the light was causing me to loose crucial fur detail in the highlights. Initially, I did feel slightly paranoid that the magnetics may not be strong enough with me moving around in many directions following the horses over rough terrain- However, I’m delighted to confirm they were 100% secured. Speed of use, couldn’t be easier compared to older Polarisers’ which were very fiddly to set up and some even involved using a screwdriver to my horror! Clearly labelled text etched onto the aluminium part of the polariser- Making it easy to read/ identify what type of filter it is.


  • Magnetic attraction.
  • Lightweight.
  • Low profile filtration.
  • Quick to install, switch and stack up to 4 magnetic filters together.
  • Stackable filters without vignette.
  • NanoPro coating, helps prevent dirt/smudges from adhering to the glass, reduced reflections, scratch resistant, waterproof, fingerprint, oil-proof & cleaning efficiency.
  • Fully compatible and interchangeable with magnetic filters from other brands.
  • Magnetic lens cap.

Demonstration video on a Private Highland Estate

Images below taken with Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL

“Luie” -Image taken with Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL- ISO 320, F4, 1/4000 @200mm. Post processed in Photoshop.
“Torin” -Image taken with Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL- ISO 640, F2.8, 1/6000 @200mm. Post processed in Photoshop.
“Sandy” -Image taken with Haida NanoPro Magnetic CPL- ISO 1000, F4.5, 1/4000 @200mm. Post processed in Photoshop.

Haida Magnetic zipped filter case

  • Holds up to 5 filters.
  • External dimensions- 121x121x47mm (LxWxH).
  • Filter size- 82mm demonstrated in my YouTube Video.
  • Materials- PU Leather and Polyester.
  • Weight- 98.9g.

Overall conclusion for both magnetic filters

To answer my question at the start of this evaluation- “I wanted to see if the bar was set as high with the rest of the Magnetic ND family“-The answer simply is YES! Exceptional quality throughout regarding even tonality-sharpness-contrast-no colour shift and absolutely no vignette on both filters.

The main attraction if you pardon the pun is the convenience compared to traditional systems which can be extremely fiddly and time consuming, especially if you’re unsure of what filter to use so your swapping and exchanging filters frequently. I’m 100% sold with this system and really do love everything about it. As you can see from my video footage the quality is also top notch for professional videographers out there. Let me assure you in no uncertain terms- This Magnetic family have it all! I will most definitely be recommending to my photography friends &/or students. Quite honestly its a breath of fresh air!

All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China. “Haida” in English translates to “All rivers run into the sea, all rivers flow to one”. If you’d like to visit their website , Facebook  or Instagram.

If you would like to see more of my work; Follow me on Facebook , Instagram , Viewbug YouPic & 1X.

I hope this provides you with some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions or contact me below or Facebook Messenger.

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“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2021

Haida Interchangeable Magnetic Variable ND filter 77mm. Featured


Haida kindly invited me to evaluate their latest innovation; Interchangeable Magnetic Variable Neutral Density (ND) Filter (2-5 stops & 6-9 stops). My test review will be in two parts, this being part 1 testing the 2-5 stop Magnetic Variable ND filter which not only is the perfect tool for photographers but also videographers. In other words, one filter ranging from 2- 5 stops and another from 6- 9 stops interchangeable in 1 second, yes I did say that correctly, one second!! Have I got you intrigued now? Let me walk you through & you show you this great innovation. Do I sound biased already? I’m sorry I am, but I will be honest & tell you some downsides

I will be testing for optimal sharpness, tonality, vignetting, bokeh, X-pattern issues, design, functionality, accuracy of stops & colour shifts.

What is a Variable Neutral Density (ND) Filter & how does it work?

Basically a Variable ND filter works by using two pieces of polarised glass that darken as they oppose each other, creating the lovely ND filter effect. As you rotate the filter the density is increased or decreased affecting the amount of light that falls through the lens & onto the camera sensor.


Available in various sizes; 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 & 82mm. I’m using is the 77mm as my lens is a Canon 70-200mm F2.8 (ii).


Featuring a NanoPro multi-coating on the filter glass, which helps prevent dirt and smudges from adhering to the glass, reduce reflections, scratch and water proof. Applied to both sides of the filter and helps prevent color cast while maintaining image sharpness. The Haida Nano pro filters are highly scratch-resistant, durable and super easy cleaning.

Positive features (in no particular order)

  • Filter protector cap.
  • Sleek design.
  • Accurate placed stop numbers.
  • No X pattern.
  • No colour shift ( neutrality).
  • Great contrast & tonality throughout.
  • Sharpness.
  • No vignetting.
  • Magnetic attraction.
  • Ease/speed of use.
  • Exceptional image quality.
  • Hard stops at each end which works as a bit of a fail safe. Preventing you from going past the weakest or strongest points, therefore impossible to push the ND effect too far. You simply place the marker over whatever number you want. This means you won’t suffer from entering into the infuriating X pattern (produces hatched areas on the actual image) terrority.
  • Absolutely no light leakage.
  • The ability to control your shutter speed in ever-changing lighting conditions
  • Incredibly smooth rotation in hand with enough friction enabling you to easily rotate the filter to the precise stop required.
  • Ideally suited for all types of photo &/or video genres including portraiture. I will be using it for my animal work.


  • I’m still undecided if I would have preferred an adjustment peg on the side to make it a bit easier to rotate from stop to stop without getting greasy fingerprints on the glass from my clumsy fingers or if it’s best without. Certainly not having it makes for a super sleek design which I really do like, not only visually but for storage & less weight. Over time I have gotten used to moving it without intensely watching where every stop is.

For the traveller in mind

If you’re tired of hauling around lots of different filters on your travels & need to go lightweight this could well be your answer.

Demonstration video

In the field tests

Test shots at different focal lengths starting at 70mm to 200mm in 10mm increments at each stop on the filter to see if all stops are true & consistent.

Sunset images below taken with Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 70-200mm F2.8 (ii) lens on Gitzo tripod. Settings used; Without filter = ISO 100, F11, 1/60 – With Magnetic Variable ND filter 2-5 @ 3 stops; ISO 200, F11, 1/8 @70mm.

Without/ with filter.

Very pleased to tell you my field test was successful in checking the stop numbers are accurately placed.


So far the most versatile filter I’ve ever used, certainly the most enjoyable, easiest, fastest & most practical system. The innovation and thought gone into the design/ build, coupled with the high quality optics makes this filter an incredible piece of kit & serious contender in the photography/ videography marketplace for many types of genres.

All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China. If you’d like to visit their website &/or Facebook .

I hope this provides you with some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions or contact me below or Facebook Messenger.

If you would like to see more of my work;
Follow me on Facebook & Instagram.
“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2020.

Experiment with Haida Circular Polariser on Animal fur.

Since Covid-19 hit the UK in March this year and not being able to travel the same I’ve been thoroughly enjoying more animal portrait photography.

However, I’m constantly faced with issues of blown-out highlights on the animal’s fur. It recently occurred to me that it may be possible to utilise my landscape photography skills with the use of a circular polariser. For some unknown reason its something I’ve never thought about and instantly heightened my curiosity. It was now time to put my theory into practice.

To see the results take a peek at this video where I use the Haida M10 “drop-in” Circular Polariser.


Screen captures of raw files (straight-out-of-camera) for demonstration purposes with/without filter & final edit in Lightroom Classic.

blown out highs

Showing blown out highlights & weak histogram without a filter

Annotation 2020-08-06 185218

Histogram showing much more detail with the filter on & same camera settings as with no filter.

edited jpeg-1

Final edit in Lightroom Classic.

Techy info

Both images using Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 70-200mm F2.8 (ii) lens @70mm, ISO100, F4.5, 1/350.

To conclude-

For a more in-depth review & explanation of the Haida M10 “drop-in” CPL please take a look here . Also a video demonstration of me using the filter in the Haida M10 filter holder, watch here how easy it is..

All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China. To view their official website please click here or alternately view their Facebook Page here.

I hope you found this useful & enjoyable?
If you would like to see more of my work;
YouPic Facebook, Viewbug, Instagram.


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“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2020

Earth Wind & Fire book by Jenny Cameron

The waiting game is over, Im bursting with excitement & super pleased. My first exclusive landscape photography book published & I couldn’t be prouder.

Stunning hard-back coffee table style book with 106 pages including my fine art landscape photos, story telling of hardships, overcoming obstacles & how art can guide you over the bumpy road.

All books are digitally signed by me & soon to be available for download on Apple books.

Previously I offered to the first 50 pre-ordered copies a personalised hand inscription/signed by me. This offer has now ended today & not available.

If you would like to purchase a book please contact me either by e-mail @ or alternatively via Facebook Messenger.



Haida filter video tutorial

Haida Filter tutorial from my home in the Scottish Highlands during the COVID-19 lock-down. Sharing my thoughts about filters.

Please note; If using any of the 100mm x 100mm (square) ND filters in M10 filter holder and you don’t wish to use any of the round “drop-in” filters, you must use the M10 “drop-in” light barrier which is simple and easy to use the sealing ring to prevent any light leakage (also provided in the kit).


Haida M10 filter holder system including light- barrier


“As a landscape photographer I have learnt how invaluable a great filter system is to my arsenal of tools. It’s something you can buy a bit at a time to build up your collection, but choosing the correct brand is the tricky part. Thankfully for you I’ve made the mistakes and now ready to share my thoughts from the past twelve months of using the Haida M10 filter holder system for the 100mm filter series. Such a genius method and design.”

Included in the Haida M10 filter holder kit

Filter holder, Circular Polariser, light-barrier, one adapter ring which can be purchased to fit most popular lenses in sizes 49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 and 82mm. Housed in a smart black eco-leather zipped storage case, with a handy carabiner attached to the top which can be neatly clipped onto your tripod or belt for ease of access, internally lined with a lovely grey velvety fabric with a net pocket for storage, including a handy screwdriver, extra pair of filter holder slots and gaskets to provide a third slot on the front of the Holder ) which I’ve left on permanently).

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Constructed from aviation grade aluminium and PC materials for super strength and is lighter in weight than its predecessor. Its genius design makes it exceptionally user-friendly, with super fast set up, and effortless to change and remove filters. Simply clip the M10 filter holder onto the M10 adapter ring by using the red push-and-release (spring clip) locking lever (see video & photos below). The innovative design gives a very secure and solid connection, and at the same time the ability to rotate 360 degrees. The non-slip spongued coating on the bottom of the filter holder provides a good grip whilst rotating which I think is a nice touch.

It’s designed to take up to three filters ( 100 x 100mm or 100 x 150mm @ 2mm thickness, compatible with other brands at the same size ) on the front of the holder if you wish to stack, and one filter slot at the rear closest to your camera lens where the new round “drop in” M10 filters are used. Boasting a choice of neutral density filters ( 3, 6, 10 and 15 stops), circular polariser (included in the kit), clear-night (light pollution filter), graduated neutral density filters ( 3 and 4 stops) and ND + CPL ( 3 and 6 stops). But only using one at a time which is the only downside if you like using several ND/s and a CPL together. If you don’t wish to use any of the round “drop- in” filters, you must use the M10 “drop in” light barrier (see photo below) which is a simple and easy to use sealing ring to prevent any light leakage (also provided in the M10 filter holder kit).

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Optional extra filter storage case

During 2019 Haida also released a very useful filter case for their M10 filter series or other branded filters of the same dimensions; either 100x100mm &/or 100x150mm. Holding up to nine filters including Haida M10 filter holder, adapter ring, cleaning cloth & memory cards. This has been with me on my adventures for every shoot, Id truly be lost without it. If you’d like to see more about this case please take a look at my test review showing photos & video here.

All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China. If you’d like to visit their website &/or Facebook .

I hope this provides you some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions.

If you would like to see more of my work;

“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2020

Glencoe collection

©Jenny Cameron 2019

Bidean nam bian

Wanderlust re edit (jpeg for web)


Glencoe (jpeg)


©Jenny Cameron 2017


Dreaming (jpeg for web)


©Jenny Cameron 2019


Topaz Labs discount code shout out

Discount code shout out ….I can proudly say Ive been approved for a new collaboration with Topaz Labs. Its a product I’ve used the past 4 years within my Adobe Photoshop workflow. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Topaz Labs its a software plugin for post processing & in my opinion one of the best, certainly my “go- to” when the going gets tough, its saved me countless times. I’ll be doing some test reviews in April showing before & after edits but for now here’s a 15% discount code for all you lovelies on any of the Topaz plug ins. All you have to do is type CAMERON15 (coupon code) at checkout. Have fun.

Follow this link

Social Anxiety & how the Hebrides helped me.

A conversation with my inner self about my recent photography adventures and how I needed to disconnect with the world.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 aged 44 hit me very hard, it’s left me battered and bruised physically and mentally. Id go as far to say the mental scars have been the most difficult. It wasn’t until after my radiotherapy that I was able to go on holiday. It’s taken the whole of 2019 to build up my strength to travel, visit my fav wild areas. My hair has started growing back after losing my long locks from the red devil himself AKA doxorubicin (a chemotherapy ingredient). Still very conscious about my hair, preferring to wear a hat if I can get away with it. Hair envy is deffinatly a thing!
Didn’t matter what I looked like on the outside or what my Husband assured me, it was all about how I felt on the inside, almost like what I felt on the inside is what I looked like on the outside if that makes sense?

We planned an extended road trip from our home in the far north of Scotland to the southern tip of England in the county of Cornwall. Spent an enjoyable week in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. Mountains will always be part of me the world over, however it was too busy from what I’m use to. Having to share my personal space with others, something I prefer not, although the photographers I met were extremely friendly and I enjoyed the bannter. One photographer with a lovely Sony A7R iv made me laugh when I really shouldn’t have, you know when you get the giggles at the wrong time? He was saying “how typical that the water was so rippled when he’s seen many images on social media of this location with silky smooth water, how annoying it’s never like that for him”. I looked at another photographer I’d been chatting to, we couldn’t keep our faces straight. We politely explained it’s down to long exposure.

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We’d planned on visiting south Wales, Devon and Cornwall for photography and meeting friends/family. However, only made it to middle England, hundreds of miles from Cornwall. The busier the traffic and population increased my anxiety matched it. I was feeling lost, didn’t recognise myself, felt a freak, afraid, stressed, claustrophobic, panic, the need to escape and runaway. Everyone was staring at me or at least in my head. Really needed the “hell outta this place”. But what about my friends and family I was suppose to visit? Something I’ve been looking forward to. How could I do a runner, how rude? I reminisce on the past twenty months, the biggest lesson was “do what makes you happy “. That was it, decision made, returning north. I felt the need to cut myself off from the world for a while. I craved the feeling of being lost in the landscape being so far away from it all that nothing else matters, not a care in the world, no worries or stress. A place to reflect my own thoughts. This crazy world we all live in gets too noisy, we need
time out just being quiet, calm your senses.


Image taken on Isle of Arran Ferry looking back at Ardrossan (mainland). Camera – Samsung Galaxy S9 +

Caught the night ferry to Brodick on the lovely Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. I was actually able to lower my shoulders and breathe. We toured the island for a few days but still didn’t feel myself and quite guarded. It was time to move on, caught another ferry to a different part of mainland Scotland on the Kintyre peninsula. From there we travelled north to my beloved Glencoe. Now, I was really starting to relax, the weather gods were on my side and such a great time of year having the place virtually to ourselves. Glen Etive in all its magnificent glory, stags roaming down the middle of the road. From there we headed further north through the mountains of Kintail to the Isle of Skye. The weather did not disappoint, managed to get a few milky ways, such amazing compositions and sky quality. I know this island like the back of my hand, having spent the past thirty years visiting at least once a year. However, I felt the need to take it one step further.

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Ok, so what happens next? Yup another ferry, almost 2 hrs west to a group of islands called the Outer Hebrides. As soon as the ferry set sail from Uig I felt the darkness within vacate. One thing which hit me on arrival was the amazing huge sky. No interruptions, miles and miles of beautiful warm coloured skies. Instead of feeling dark I would go chase some light which gave me mental freedom and a sense of calmness. A place I could truly get a away from society, off the beaten tracks. Literally pressing the pause button and breathe for a few minutes, it will never fail to fill your heart. Wandering on the white powder beaches with my looney dogs racing in and out of the cold aquamarine sea. Island life set me free, allowed me to feel the wind in my hair, gave me time to reconnect with nature, almost like I became part of the landscape itself, emotions straight from the heart. The weather is bracing which gave me good reason to wear my hat and I didn’t look out of place. It felt raw, real, free spirited and extremely inspiring from the land, sky and sea. Free as a bird, I was now starting to channel my personal feelings through my camera, either mobile phone or DSLR. Island life is slow, takes a few days to adjust and learn to love this new lifestyle. One of the reasons you can’t help but fall in love with these new lands. People have time for each other, driving along the locals will wave to you, be sure to wave back. This year I’ve spent eight weeks in the Outer Hebrides, it’s been my absolute sanctuary and a huge role in my recovery.

Other days were spent watching waves crashing over my camera, was an endless job of shoot and wipe…Great fun though and certainly put my Haida filters through their paces which never failed to let me down with the ultra thin NanoPro coating it was very easy to wipe. Having spent time on several Caribbean islands often twice a year in a different life many years ago where I escaped the madness from my crazy mixed up life, where I would go to rebalance.. I found the Hebrides very similar emotions from the beaches and lifestyle.. Freedom to be whoever you want, not a care in the world, feeling the sea breeze on your face providing the ability to mentally set you free. Not being judged, no stares or looking you up and down as if judging what designer label your wearing or rather not. How well groomed you look. No makeup, simply me being me. The sea washed over the sand leaving it all pristine and clean, like it did for my unbalanced head and emotions.. Cleaned my soul and black thoughts. I was falling in love with this wild corner of Scotland with its energetic seascapes and remote mountains. Literally making me feel alive. Sat in the sea with camera and tripod in December doesn’t sound too appealing but I have to tell you how empowering it feels. Photography is an extremely powerful tool to heal and express yourself. Open your eyes. Discover the solitude and silence it brings, nature will soothe your soul. Don’t make any plans, go with the flow and let the universe lead you as more times out of ten plans never work out. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the moment.

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All images taken with Samsung Galaxy 9 plus.

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