New Laphroaig Tasting Room


On wednesday evening Laphroaig distillery opened their doors to invited guests to show off the new tasting room at the distillery.


A premium tasting was laid on and included the four drams in the image below.


The first dram was the new 15 year old released as part of the distilleries 200th anniversary celebrations, and interestingly distillery manager John Campbell mentioned that the youngest spirit was 17 years old and the oldest 21 years. This begged the question, why not call it a 17 year old? Apparently it was reduced to a 15 year old name to avoid confusion with the core 18 year old product.


Another interesting touch was the “Opinions Wall” This consists of a wooden panelled wall with cut outs the size of a cask bung where visitors are invited to write any comments on new bungs and then push them into the wall. Once the wall is full (which won’t take long) the bungs are then used on new fill casks as they go into bond. So you could see your bung in a cask on a warehouse tour in the future.



Wedding Season Open !

Yesterday , marked the start of the wedding season for both myself and Kilarrow minister Rev Rob Barlow.

The weather gods also played ball by giving us a dry but cloudy day, which is actually better for photographs than a sunny day as there are no shadows or blinks unless caused by flash.

The couple in question were Islay girl Laura Garnham who was marrying Brian Cook from Campbeltown.

After the service in the round church the reception was held at Ardbeg Distillery.

The pictures are some of my picks from the day.

Wishing you all the best Laura & Brian.

Sarah Brown Designs

One of the benefits of being a photographer is that you get to see other peoples working enviroments or what they produce.

This is all the more interesting when it concerns a new venture, whilst the pictures here don’t relate to a new venture it is still very young.

Today I have photographed some more handmade bespoke jewellery for sarah Brown from Port Charlotte, Islay.

She has a website at   and is well worth a having a look at if you want to see some creative fashion accessories.

I have attached a couple of pictures here from the session today and hopefully she will have great success with this business.

Photokina 2010

For many years I have visited Focus on imaging in the UK at the NEC in Birmingham and in fact back to the days when it was known as Photography at Work and was held in the Wembley Conference Centre. However I have always had a wish to go to the world’s two biggest photo exhibitions being PMA in Las vegas and Photokina in Cologne which is held every other year on the even numbered year.

This year with the help and persuasion of some friends I made it to Photokina and below are my impressions of this event.

As you would probably expect getting to the event with the German public transport system was quick, efficient and a pleasurable experience.

The weather was wet all day which wouldn’t normally matter if you are inside all day but Nikon had organised a system where they were photographing visitors on the way in and projecting the image on a giant screen by the entrance, quite cool have your picture taken then take a picture of yourself on the big screen, a nice little fun touch to start the day off.

Visitor portraits on the big screen.

Once inside the Messe (the exhibition halls) you could see why this is a big exhibition, Focus on Imaging has two halls, Photokina has eleven of similar size to the NEC and we were going to try and get round in one day. One thing where Focus could learn is the size of the aisles, no crush here and with the absence of retailers there there was no car boot sale effect as happens in Birmingham. The other first impression was the sheer size  of the stands reminding me of a motor show rather than a camera show. Language wasn’t a problem as most people were people could speak English with name badges carrying the flags of the languages spoken.

Inside the exhibition centre

So what about the gear ?

For me, two items would/could appear on a wish list both announced shortly before the event.

On the Canon stand was the new 8-15mm L series zoom lens. Sadly there was one but locked away in a glass cabinet and another fitted to a camera but out of reach to visitors, rather bizzare I thought. Why didn’t Canon want visitors to try the lens ?  I’m sure they weren’t trying to hide anything but I don’t have any ideas why….

This lens is reputed to cover a full 180 degrees field of view so does sound very interesting and on a full frame DSLR would be pretty unique.

The 8-15mm L lens from Canon

The other object of desire was the Leica M9 Titan, the titanium bodied M9.

I will need my lottery numbers to come up for that one though !!

The gorgeous M9 Titan

Talking to a couple of exhibitors who have shown over the years, they seem to have the impression that this years show was slightly smaller than previously and visitor numbers possibly down, this of course applies to Focus as well but it is obviously a sign of the current economic climate.

This year a hall was devoted to exhibiting some cutting edge fine art photography, it was the last hall on our day so time was running short but it looked as though it was worth more time spent there.

Overall it was an interesting experience and well worth the effort in going and would recommend it to anybody with an interest in the latest photographic scene.

Thanks are due to Ian, Dave and Claude Donne for making this happen.

The samsung stand, just for compact cameras and monitors !
Part of the Canon stand

Getting my new gear wet !

I spent three days of last week working for Glenmorangie who had invited eighteen journalists from all over the world to visit Ardbeg Distillery.

One of the highlights for the guests was a trip on a RIB to the world famous whirlpool at Corryvreckan at the northern tip of the Isle of Jura.

Reason being that one of Ardbeg’s whiskies is named after the whirlpool.

I went there last year with Glenmorangie on a similar trip, back then I was using Canon EOS1DS bodies and they got very wet that day, the spray coming off the swell and the boat was equivalent to a very heavy shower.

The cameras survived to tell the tale without any after effects, although I spent a lot of time all day just clearing water off the front of the lens !

This year I have changed cameras to the EOS5D 2 (more on the reasoning for this in a later post), I wasn’t convinced that they would be as weather resistant as the 1D’s, so decided on taking and using a plastic housing that fitted over the camera but just left the lens exposed.

Within minutes I felt vindicated as the spray was as bad as last time, I still had to keep removing water from the lens but at least I knew the camera was dry.

Ten minutes before arriving back at the distillery pier, I decided to remove the plastic casing as I knew I would need to access some menus on the camera within seconds of landing, so duly fought with it and the strong breeze.

The final ten minutes of the journey which should have been the most sheltered turned out to be the wildest part of the journey, so yes you’ve guessed it the camera took quite a drenching.

With only a very wet lens cloth to hand, I was given a couple of paper napkins to try and remove the water, I only had a few minutes to do this before I

Shannick on the edge of the Corryvreckan

was needed to take more images of the boats unloading at the pier

To my great surprise everything seemed to be working fine, and still is a week later, so maybe the weather proofing on a 5D is better than I had guessed.

The picture is of the RIB on the edge of the Corryvreckan.

Welcome to Islay Studios

Welcome to the new Islay Studios blog page.For the last fifteen months I have been running a photoblog site, but have now decided to go with a company blog which will allow you into my world a little.

Over time it will feature some of the assignments that I have been on along with occasional reviews of photo equipment, books and other  related subjects that might be on my mind.

I hope you enjoy the site over time, please bookmark it and feel free to leave comments as you wish.

To start off with, a photo I   took the other evening which is turning into a favourite of mine , just having a little ripple in the water has made all the difference with the reflections of the clouds.

Cloud Reflections at Ardnahoe