Land of the Headless Plastic Baby

As part of my brief for Extreme Scotland is to photograph as many of Scotland’s adventure sports , surfing would have to be included , especially as Thurso is rated as one of the top waves in Europe. I also have zero experience of photographing big wave surfing, kayak surfing and kite surfing are the closest I’ve got to it so was interested to see how this would go. Along for the ride were Everest guide Jon Gupta and Jake Thompsett, 2 super cool guys and very able to do either running, biking , climbing or surfing as the weather allowed.


The weather as it turned was utter crap for doing anything really, the wind was cross on, so blowing the waves over and while there was a good swell , the sea conditions were terrible, when there are no locals in the water , it’s a good idea not to get in the water.

Lots of watching, sitting, thinking , scratching of heads for beach orientations that might work and chatting to some ‘friendly’ locals and we found something almost workable. It was very cold, and as I was nursing a broken finger I couldn’t wear gloves on my injured hand so my fingers were frozen, but I could only imagine how cold Jake and Jon were in the water, with rain and hail and wind, this is not fair weather surfing

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I had been thinking recently that my photography had got a bit stuck in a rut , and I was finding myself a bit bored with my images . I suppose after a certain time you start to have a ‘ style’ and you know what will work and how you will develop the image so on a trip like this where I was in new territory , it was quite nice to see how I could do things differently. One thing I rarely do is landscape shoots where I just go out to shoot landscape but down at the harbour in Thurso I really liked this image of the lamp post and the birds. Its seemed to say something to me but not quite sure what, answers on a postcard please.


I had never been to Caithness before and its a beautiful and somewhat bleak place, the locals are an interesting bunch and seemed to take umbrage at our attire in the bar one night, the exchange went a bit like this;

The scene is Jake , Jon and I standing in bar in usual outdoor clothing

Local lad ( pissed) approaches and asks what sort of clothing this is to be wearing to a bar ?

Us, scratching our heads and wondering if we had missed the dress code for ‘ no down jackets and beanie hats’ notice start to explain the merits of wickable base layers and synthetic down as it’s environmentally friendly but our local lad is having none of it and throws down the ultimate sartorial gauntlet ( USG henceforth)


“Justify yersel lads, how can ye wear those clothes, IN HERE !! ? ”

This is uncharted territory for us, this sort of thing doesn’t normally happen and we manage to divert his attention to the pool table and deftly side step having to make excuses for our attire , wtf ?

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In spite of the terrible weather , Jake manages to pull a few runs out of the bag and save the day . I will be heading back up to Thurso when there is a more favourable surf forecast so if you or anyone you know that is a local to the area fancies teaming up to get some shot s, then get in touch

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