Ian Cowe's "Scottish and Manx Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey in the Footsteps of the Stevensons" is published by the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust and is a simply magnificent evocation of the splendid and sometimes fierce beauty of Scottish and Manx lighthouses. In his introduction the author suggests that he has been a lighthouse enthusiast since birth. He grew up in a seafaring community on the north-east coast of Scotland and was never far from a lighthouse.
Anyone can go and photograph a lighthouse: indeed we've photographed quite a few ourselves. But there are some subjects that are innately more difficult to photograph than others, and simple geography, combined with the nature of the role that the lighthouses were built to fulfil, means that many of them are both remote and exceptionally inaccessible. The impressive photographs on display in this book were taken over a seven year period, and with the active help and support of the Northern Lighthouse Board, who operate the Scottish and Manx lighthouses. The author describes the collection as "a snapshot of Scotland's lighthouses taken since the advent of digital photography."
The result is a beautifully balanced collection of images. Some were taken on expeditions by car and by foot, but others were only possible thanks to the crew of "NLV Pharos", the Northern Lighthouse Board's ship, and its helicopter. And many of the interior images were only possible with the operators' cooperation. While this is a book about lighthouses, it is also a book about some of the very best parts of the beautiful coastline of Scotland and the Isle of Man. And beyond: the influence of the Stevenson family, who built most of the lighthouses included, is traced far beyond these shores. The early story of lighthouses is also covered, as is the role of lightkeepers.
The large format of the book helps showcase its contents perfectly and the result is a "must buy" for anyone with an interest in lighthouses, or in the wild and inaccessible parts of our coastline.