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Photographer of the Week – Mark Kirkland
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, December 17, 2020 @ 06:00 AM (EST)

Curled octopus, Cape Wrath, Sutherland, Scotland

It’s the home of mesmerizing lochs and spectacularly brutal weather. The place where legendary hard liquor and fine drinking holes come from. And of course, the wild, untamed land that gave us the best Bond (let’s not even discuss it, pal). But when it comes to Scotland, if you want to know what cold-water treats await, look no further than the stunning portfolio of our Photographer of the Week, Mark Kirkland.

Since 2012, this Glaswegian shooter has been hopping in his car after work and on weekends and photographing the fascinating critters in the lochs a couple of hours’ drive away. In the summer months, he tries to venture further afield, spending weeks on boats and in bunkhouses exploring everything the chilly North Sea has to offer.

Scotland’s underwater conditions aren’t for the faint of heart, though, and nailing compelling images can be challenging. Says Mark: “I’m keen to push my creativity as well as the technical limits of my gear. It’s not always a success; however, there is always something to learn from the failures. Recently, I’ve been becoming less concerned with technical perfection and more concerned about mood and the creative use of light, though I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m producing images I’m truly happy with.”

Of course, self-deprecating humor is the joyous national pastime of the Scots, and the modesty of this self-described “award-losing underwater photographer” is wholly unfounded: This is surely one of the most captivating collections of images we’ve seen this year. Also, the contest judges concur: Mark’s images have placed frequently in national photography competitions, including Underwater Photographer of the Year and the Scottish Nature Photography Awards, and in 2019, he even snagged the “Animal Portraits” category in the prestigious British Wildlife Photography Awards for his brilliant moody shot of a small-spotted catshark (see below).

To underwater photographers savvy enough to make the trip to the greatest part of Great Britain, don’t waste your time searching for Nessie: Scotland has a treasure trove of awesome subjects below the waterline.

Cushion star and spiny star, Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, Scotland

Dramatic skies and green water at Glen Kinglas, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Common starfish, Loch Leven, Highlands, Scotland

Lion’s mane jellyfish, Loch Laxford, Northwest Highlands, Scotland

Basking shark, Coll, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Plumose anemones on the SS Breda wreck, Oban, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Seven-armed starfish, Garvellachs, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Small-spotted catshark, Loch Fyne, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Scorpionfish and brittlestars, Loch Leven, Highlands, Scotland

Bobtail squid, Loch Long, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Common frog, Glasgow, Scotland

Long-clawed squat lobster, Loch Leven, Highlands, Scotland

Moon jellyfish, Loch Sween, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Mark gets ready for another chilly plunge

Feast your eyes on more of Mark’s stunning images on his website, www.markkirklandphotography.com, or on his Instagram page.


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