Posts tagged ‘Old Man of Hoy’

Old Man Glow

I took this shot from Yesnaby on the west coast of the Orkney Mainland, looking out across the North Atlantic to the Isle of Hoy and the famous Old Man of Hoy sea stack. I think it’s fairly obvious what attracted me to this subject – the low winter sun just glinting off the water and backlighting the scene so that Hoy’s mighty sea-cliffs appeared almost silhouetted against the horizon:

Old Man Glow

I have no idea how far the Old Man is from Yesnaby, but it must be 5 to 10 miles away I would think. So this was one of those occasions where using a telephoto lens was essential in order to capture this landscape image.

I used my new toy – the Olympus 75-300mm f4.8-6.3 – that I bought before Christmas. Granted it’s not the fastest lens in the world, but because it’s a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens it actually covers 150-600mm in full frame terms. In fact it’s with lenses like this that the MFT format starts to make a lot of sense. This lens costs just under £400 and weighs just over 400g. With my Canon 7d – a DSLR with a x1.6 crop factor sensor – the only lens that covers an equivalent focal length, in full frame terms, is the 100-400mm f4.0-5.6 (160-640mm in FF) – but that costs just under £1300 and weighs nearly 1.4kg. If I had a full frame Canon then there isn’t currently a native 150-600mm lens available. Of course you could get there with a combination of lens and tele-convertor, but that adds weight and cost and comes at the expense of image quality and convenience. Also tele-convertors are only compatible with a relatively small number of lenses. To get to a native 600mm in a prime lens would cost a staggering £10,000 in the Canon line-up and weigh a back-breaking 4kg.

It’s examples like this which, for me, illustrate why the MFT format provides the perfect balance between image quality, portability and affordability – especially if the bulk of your photography, like mine, is hand-held and/or travel orientated. MFT fits my photography style and needs perfectly.

© Mark Simms Photography (2014)


Hoy is the second largest of the Orkney Isles, after the Orkney Mainland itself and it lies to the south of the latter across Scapa Flow.

Our main reason for wanting to visit was to drive up to Rackwick Bay and from there take the path to the iconic Old Man of Hoy, a 137m rock stack at the north-west end of the Island. On the drive-up to Rackwick it quickly became clear that Hoy is different in character to the Orkney Mainland – it is considerably more hilly. The bay at Rackwick is beautiful and dramatic in equal measure, with high cliffs flanking the sea on either side. In fact sea cliffs (including the Old Man) are Hoy’s greatest geographical feature – those at St John’s Head are the highest in Britain at 351m.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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