Published: 01/04/2011 00:00 - Updated: 25/11/2011 08:44

Black Isle exposed

A frosty morning in Jemimaville.
A frosty morning in Jemimaville.

ONE of Scotland's best kept secrets is getting some extra exposure thanks to three local photographers who have captured its charms in a new book.

Andrew Dowsett, James Moore and Russell Turner originally planned "Eilean Dubh: The Black Isle" as a private publication, but the results were so good that they decided to make the book available to the public.

Of the three, only Dowsett, who has lived in the area since 1986, is a professional photographer.

His co-authors are relative newcomers to serious photography.

Journalist, author and musician Turner took up the camera when he discovered digital photography in 2006, the same year that council worker Moore moved to the Black Isle. Moore was so impressed by the area's beauty and wildlife, including the famous Moray Firth dolphins, that he decided to take up photography to record what he saw.

It was Moore who first came up with the idea of the book about the place he calls a well kept secret.

"This place is amazing - you have dolphins at the end of the street!" Moore declared.

That the Black Isle is relatively unknown outside the region in comparison to other parts of the Highlands was another reason to put the photographs into book form.

"The fact that we all live on the Black Isle made it an obvious subject to tackle," Dowsett said.

"We had plenty of material already and spent quite a lot of time working on other subjects over the summer. There are also plenty of photographic books on the Western Isles and Skye, but no book on this area and we wanted to be it.

"I'm always recording the Black Isle at different times of the year - it's an on-going desire really. Whatever the weather conditions, there's a need to record the scenery that I'm drawn to."

With Turner's background in journalism, it was his task to take their photographs and put them into book form, Dowsett acknowledging there would not be a book at all without his expertise.

"The book really took off when I did the dolphin chapter and we could see how it could really happen," Turner said.

The reaction was possibly even stronger when the trio, all members of Cromarty Camera Club, started putting together proof copies.

"When we started showing it to people, it was difficult to prise it out of their hands," Dowsett said.

"That's why we thought it would be worth selling locally. We have been cautious, but everything suggests it will be popular with visitors and locals to the Black Isle."

The finished book is divided into chapters concentrating on different subjects such as "the Light", "the Villages", "the Industry" and "the Wildlife", with those dolphins getting a chapter of their own.

The different chapters reflect the photographers' various interests.

"I would say that James and Russell are drawn more towards the wildlife, that's their strength," Dowsett said.

"I think the book is stronger for the fact we have all brought different strengths and interests to the subjects we have covered."

Turner admits he did not even have to stray from his house to get some of the shots in the book, especially those featuring regular garden visitor "Mr Marten".

Some of Moore's shots, however, required considerably more effort.

"James will sit out in the middle of a wood for hours freezing his hands off, while I'm spoiled because I have a pine marten in my garden," Turner said.

"I'm quite inspired by James."

In addition to the book, the trio's photographs will also get another public viewing in September at Cromarty Courthouse.

"I will be having an exhibition that could be based around the book and I'd like to bring in Russell and James of course," Dowsett said.

* "Eilean Dubh: The Black Isle" by Andrew Dowsett, James A. Moore and Russell Turner, is published by Bassman Books, priced £19.95. The book is on sale at The Emporium in Cromarty, Cromarty Post Office, Jemimaville Post Office, Duncanston Post Office, Crofters Bistro in Rosemarkie, Fortrose Post Office, Eilean Dubh Restaurant in Fortrose and Frank Nicol Garden Centre, Dingwall. It is also available online at www.russellturner.org

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