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Excursion to the far end of Orkney

Last Sunday, we went to the other end of Orkney; here this is considered to be going a long way—all of 34 miles (=54kms)! I have spoken to people who think this is a major expedition. And furthermore, there might be strange people–West Mainlanders!

Britain is having a cold spell and so are we, in reduced form because of course the sea all around us ensures that it never gets really cold here (or really warm in summer either!). There was even a sprinkling of snow. However, it did not feel cold because it was practically windless.

In fact there has been a bit of snow for about a week. At its whitest, on 24 January, I took this shot from the roadside on our way back from the weekly shop in Kirkwall. This is Scapa beach, on the Scapa Flow side of Kirkwall

Full size here

But back to our excursion to Birsay. We went with some new friends, a Polish lady and her young son Bruno, who at the age of eight is great fun to be around because he is very bright, talkative, and intelligent. I made a couple of efforts at portrait photos, something I know I am not very good at. Several of my attempts were out of focus because, unlike landscape, the subjects—especially young boys—won't fucking keep still. But this one was okay, although I missed the best expression on Bruno's face

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Bruno's mum does yoga, so this was an imitiation. And it was a wonderful Orkney rock.


Here he is dashing away after the shot

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Also this one

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While here's Arthur wandering through the ruins of the 1200-year-old church

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But of course we had really gone to the Brough of Birsay for the views, which, this being Orkney, were of course stupendous. These shots were taken from inside the ruined Viking village on the Brough, looking back towards the north coast of Mainland

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I love the field of Orkney flagstones that look as if they were man-made but of course aren't:

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Looking back inland in another direction, one sees the Earl's Palace in Birsay, built by Sir Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney—of whom, by the way, I am the 9G grandson (that is grandson with nine greats before it) along with many, many others, of course, given the way that families multiply through the generations):

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Looking outwards, this was the view towards Marwick Head, where Lord Kitchener's ship sank in June 1916.

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(There is a nice shot of the view from Marwick Head looking towards Birsay on this website here)


Finally, a camera story. I took this not very impressive picture of the setting sun. The result—this

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was obviously not worth of including here EXCEPT for one fact: with the naked eye (but not discernable in the full-frame picture) we could see what appeared to be the outline of an island in the golden glow of the setting sun. But we did not know of any island in that general direction and even talked about this with other walkers.

So I did a very tight crop of the area, like so

and got this

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That island is sixty kilometres away and my lens was able to resolve it!!! Now that's what I call digital zoom! It's Sule Skerry and you can read about it here . It's hard to believe that this is from one and the same photo file. That's what 47 megapixels and a very fine lens can do.


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@Steve. About Sule: there are two islands there. One just a rock sticking out of the sea, and the other larger one with the lighthouse.

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@Bob. Yes, the Scapa Beach turned out really nicely. It’s quite a heavy crop of the full frame. In fact, it was Arthur who, when looking at me processing the pic, wanted me to crop it to that extent. (I’ve since looked at 100% renders of the image and to my amazement see that the word Scapa on the Scapa Distillery—the white building just above the beach— are legible. I can’t believe this lens! About the town of Twatt: back in the days when we had tourists, the sig. board for the village was regularly stolen. It also features on loads of mugs and other tourist tat.

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@Steve. No pic of Bruno’s mum because I’m useless at portraits. Note no serious pic of Arthur either.

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bobgraef
bobgraef
Feb 02, 2021

Very nice pix, as usual. My favorite is the first one, Scapa Beach. But where is the portrait of Bruno's mum?

The map shows some interesting towns in that vast area. It must be fun to tell folks you live in Twatt.

You might like this... Imagine a world where YouTube, Twitter and Facebook merge to become YouTwitFace.

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Wonderful photo of Bruno on his lotus-rock.

Re the photo of Sule Skerry, there is another shape on that same horizon. Am not sure whether it is Sule Skerry on the right and what may be a ship on the left, or, whether it is Sule Skerry on the left and what may be a cloud formation on the right.

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