"Discover the Hebrides" by Iain McGowan takes the reader on a photographic journey up the western seaboard of Scotland and to a number of the islands of the inner and outer Hebrides. It follows on from the author's "Portrait of the Hebrides", first published in 2008. Iain McGowan is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and a professional photographer specialising in landscape and environmental photography. What is particularly interesting about his photography is that he so often seem to be seeking to present the viewer of his work with a sense of mood as much as with a sense of place.
As a result, he appears to seek out weather and environmental conditions which those simply seeking to picture a place might choose to avoid. This is especially striking in the opening third of the book which offers a pictorial representation of the western seaboard of Scotland in winter, starting in Arran and progressing up via the Slate Islands (and a snowy Rannoch Moor), Applecross and Achiltibuie to Oldshoremore, not far south of Scotland's most north westerly tip. Islands covered in the remaining two thirds of the book include Islay and Jura; Mull and Iona; Tiree; Skye and Lewis; Harris and Berneray; and Eigg. Again, light and mood has been sought out in the islands, but there are also many more traditional shots of white beaches or green landscapes under blue skies. The images of Jura House Garden, clearly taken before its closure, are a useful if sad reminder of an oasis now possibly lost for good. Another reminder of loss comes with the beautiful image of a deserted village on the island of Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles, west of Mull.
It's always interesting to look at an area you know well through the eyes and lens of another photographer. Suffice it to say that Iain MacGowan does an excellent job of capturing the elusive spirit of many of the places he covers in the book. This really is what parts of Scotland can feel like at times, though most visitors venture north in the hope of seeing it in rather better weather than the author encountered on the mainland part of his journey!