Chris Higgins
Chris Higgins

Passing Place: A Hike Through Skye, Scotland (Part 2)

Chris Higgins
Chris Higgins

Here's Part 2 of a rather long (10-mile) hike on the Isle of Skye. If you haven't seen it yet, check out Part 1 for background and the first half of the hike.

As we ascended a mountain ridge, the sheep seemed to care much less about us. These are semi-wild sheep, living off the fertile grass of the area without extra fodder, though they are rounded up for shearing on occasion. (We'll get to that in a bit.)

Waterfall; sheep.

This is the thing we would be going up and over. It was really a trek.

Another waterfall along the way.

The path is visible in the foreground (and a little in the distance—that green strip above the gray gravel). You'll note that even a lamb here doesn't seem perturbed by humans.

On the ridge, the path was on a steep angle. On the really steep bits, I stopped taking pictures for fear of falling off.

Looking back, we see Loch Eishort as the sky begins to brighten up.

I came across this stone face (right). It even has a sort of eye.

The face, again.

Continuing, we began to see mountains in the distance.

The path was muddy (and sometimes turned into a small stream), so we often tried to walk to one side of the path. This is where we found the real mud.

The ruined village of Suisnish has been fenced in, so we couldn't get close. There's a sheep barn down there, so we had to walk up the mountain a bit and skirt around it. Suisnish is similar to Boreraig, also cleared by force.

Evidence of long stone walls in Suisnish, from a distance.

At about this point in the hike (perhaps six or seven miles in, and many hours), the sky over Skye began to do this.

And this.

You get the idea.

I was very fond of these sheep. I'm not sure they cared about me one bit.

More sky magic.

At this point, the path became considerably wider. Although it was still rocky, it was a marked change from the sheep trails we had spent so much time on earlier in the day. Our pace picked up.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of cloud formations.

A fellow drove by in an all-terrain vehicle with his sheep dog. His wife also passed us, with several similar sheep dogs. They waved, we waved, and we realized that they must run the sheep barn back in Suisnish.

Rochelle ahead of me on the trail.

Another waterfall.

More beauty.

The pebble beach.

At this point, the road actually had asphalt. We walked even faster, as we were running out of water and still had a few miles to go.

This is a modern quarry, though at the time we were convinced it was the lair of a movie supervillain.

These sheep gave us the evil eye.

This poor guy had a half-coat of wool. He looked self-conscious.

And then this began to happen. About a mile from the end of the trip (back at the ruined church), "golden hour" began. This is when the sun begins to set and casts beautiful light over things. Despite being tired and wrung-out from a day of hiking (and not quite enough water), I had to take pictures of Loch Cill Chriosd. The water was calm, and reeds grew in much of it.

The mirror effect of the loch is brilliant.

More of that.

I had to pinch myself that this is what the place looked like. It was otherworldly.

And so on.

Here's one spot where the reeds became very thick.

This stuck out as a favorite—a typical Scotland "Passing Place" sign (for single-track roads), in just the right spot.

And thus we returned to Cill Chriosd, where the journey began.

Another view of Cill Chriosd, now with a blue sky.

One our drive back to a rented cottage, we were briefly delayed by these furry friends. It was worth it.

Live Smarter
8 Pro Tips for Taking Incredible Pictures of Your Pets

Thanks to the internet, owning a photogenic pet is now a viable career option. Just ask Theron Humphrey, dog-dad to Maddie the coonhound and the photographer behind the Instagram account This Wild Idea. He gained online fame by traveling across the country and sharing photographs of his dog along the way. But Maddie’s impressive modeling skills aren’t the only key to his success; Humphrey has also mastered some essential photography tricks that even the most casual smartphone photographer can use to make their pet look like a social media star.


Based on her Instagram presence, you’d guess Maddie is either in the middle of a road trip or a scenic hike at any given time. That’s no accident: At a pet photography workshop hosted by Adobe, Humphrey said he often goes out of his way to get that perfect shot. “You need to keep situating yourself in circumstances to continue making great work,” he said, “even if that means burning a tank of gas and going someplace you’ve never been.”


Dog and owner on a couch.

That being said, it’s important to know your pet’s limits. Is your dog afraid of flying? Then leave him with a pet sitter when you vacation abroad. Does your cat hate the water? Resist the temptation to bring her into the kayak with you on your next camping trip, even if it would make for an adorable photo opportunity. “One thing I think is important with animals is to operate within the parameters they exist in,” Humphrey said. “Don’t go too far outside their comfort zone.”


Not every winning pet photo is the result of a hefty travel budget. You can take professional-looking pictures of your pet at home, as long as you know how to work with the space you’re in. Humphrey recommends looking at every element of the scene you’re shooting in and asking what can be changed. Don’t be shy about moving furniture, adjusting the blinds to achieve the perfect lighting, or changing into a weird outfit that will make your pup’s eyes pop.


Two dogs in outfits.

Ella and Coconut Bean.

Trying to capture glamorous photos of a moving, barking target is a hard job. It’s much easier when you have a human companion to assist you. Another set of hands can hold the camera when you want to be in the picture with your pet, or hold a toy or treat to get your dog’s attention. At the very least, they can take your pet away for a 10-minute play session when you need a break.


The advent of digital cameras, including the kind in your smartphone, was a game-changer for pet photographers. Gone are the days when you needed to be picky about your shots to conserve film. Just set your shutter to burst mode and let your camera do the work capturing every subtle blep and mlem your pet makes. Chances are you’ll have plenty of standout shots on your camera roll from which to choose. From there, your hardest job will be “culling” them, as Humphrey says. He recommends uploading them to a photo organizing app like Adobe Lightroom and reviewing your work in two rounds: The first is for flagging any photo that catches your eye, and the second is for narrowing down that pool into an even smaller group of photos you want to publish. Even then, deciding between two shots taken a fraction of a second apart can be tricky. “When photos are too similar, check the focus,” he said. “That’s often the deciding factor.”


When it comes to capturing the perfect pet photo, an expensive camera is often less important than your cat’s favorite feather toy. The most memorable images often include pets that are engaging with the camera. In order to get your pet to look where you want it to, make sure you're holding something your pet will find interesting in your free hand. If your pet perks up at anything that makes noise, find a squeaky toy. If they’re motivated by food, use their favorite treat to get their attention. Don’t forget to reward them with the treat or the toy after they sit for the photo—that way they’ll know to repeat the behavior next time.


Person with hat taking photo of dog and dog food.

According to Humphrey, your pet’s eye should be the focus of most shots you take. In some cases, you may need to do more to make your pet the focal point of the image, even if that means removing your face from the frame altogether. “If there’s a human in the photo, you want to make them anonymous,” Humphrey said. That means incorporating your hands, legs, or torso into a shot without making yourself the star.


This is the mantra Theron Humphrey repeated throughout his workshop. You can scout out the perfect location and find the perfect accessories, but when you’re shooting with animals you have no choice but to leave room for flexibility. “You have to learn to roll with the mistakes,” Humphrey said. What feels like a hyperactive dog ruining your shot in the moment might turn out to be social media gold when it ends up online.

ESA/Hubble, NASA
Hubble Telescope Image Shows Two Galaxies Colliding 350 Million Light-Years Away
ESA/Hubble, NASA
ESA/Hubble, NASA

Since launching in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured some magnificent images of our corner of the universe, from neighboring planets to distant nebulae. An updated picture released by the European Space Agency shows two galaxies colliding 350 million light-years away, a process the ESA has been tracking for 52 years, Gizmodo reports.

Galaxies are constantly changing shape and creeping through space. When two of these massive networks cross paths, their stellar material begins to intermingle, and they eventually merge into one entity under the force of gravity. In this image depicting two barred spiral galaxies in the Cetus constellation, the two nuclei are still separate, but the explosive merging process has already been set in motion. Long tidal tails—streams of gas, dust, and stars—feather out from the top of the cluster. The bright blue patches indicate "stellar nurseries" where gas and dust stirred together by gravity are producing new stars.

The photograph was first released in 2008, but this latest version has been updated using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). According to an ESA statement, the galaxies "are like a natural experiment played out on a cosmic scale, and by cataloguing them, astronomers can better understand the physical processes that warp spiral and elliptical galaxies into new shapes."

Galactic mergers are a vital part of the evolution of the universe: Even the Milky Way is on course to crash into a neighboring galaxy 4 billion years down the road. But the process, though violent, is slow-moving. It will be millions of years before these two galaxies in Cetus settle down into one.

[h/t Gizmodo]


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