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  • Rousay, Orkney

Orkney's autumn colours

Orkney.com photographer, Fionn McArthur, has been looking out some of his favourite autumnal imagery from the islands.

As autumn takes hold in Orkney, it’s time to bid farewell to endless evenings, verdant landscapes and sparkling seas.

It seems like the blink of an eye since our clifftops were carpeted with pink swathes of thrift, giving way to the subtler shades of eyebright in late summer. Now the palette is becoming increasingly muted, both on the shoreline and in the fields, where geese fill the space left by harvests of barley, oats and silage. The drawing in of the darker months is much more pronounced here than it is in more southern latitudes, a tipping from one extreme to another.

But this is not a time to pack away the camera. Our autumnal light can be so much more interesting than the glare of summer. Here are a few of my favourite autumn images from the past few years.

This is probably one of Orkney’s most photographed spots and it takes on a very different appearance in autumn. The outward-sloping cliffs at Yesnaby demand extreme care and respect, particularly when wet.


It’s often tricky to capture the ‘feel’ of an autumn day. A long exposure can sometimes give a sense of being in the landscape, and the rugged coastline at the Brough of Birsay is an ideal place to capture that.


The colder air gives great clarity to the light. These cliffs at the Candle of the Sneuk in Hoy feel almost alive as the spray gently rises from the Atlantic.


In a season of gales you often appreciate moments of calm all the more intensely. This was taken with just me and the sheep on the west side of Rousay.


Light can be so fleeting at this time of year, but magic when it illuminates a tiny patch of land or sea. I was lucky to arrive at Dingieshowe in the East Mainland just in time for this shot.


You have to appreciate colour where you find it at this time of year. These rowan berries are still clinging on in October, in the glen above Rackwick in Hoy.


When you're taking photographs at this time of year, you have to accept you're probably going to get wet. But it's worth it for the colours that emerge from the rocks, and the movement of rain across the landscape is always fascinating. Looking towards Hoy from Warebeth is one of the best places to experience the elements.


One of the great things about autumn is that you can often have an amazing site like Skara Brae all to yourself.


But sometimes it’s better to have good company. Wildlife photographer Raymond Besant adds a bit of scale to this image taken at Yesnaby.


Find out more about Orkney in autumn with our special blog.

The Promoting Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.

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