Filming for North Highland Initiative - Highland Time

Filming for North Highland Initiative - Highland Time

I got contacted back in early September to quote for some still location photography but also a short promotion video giving a taster of Highland Time.

I love the creative side of using drones in film making, from getting different perspectives especially when you're working around the coastline of the north Highlands.    

The Highlands have so much to offer, way too much to try and squeeze into a short video without the video changing every second which would not make for a relaxing video, we narrowed down the list locations and based on 5 days filming and photography, bearing in mind the weather and traveling between locations.   

After checking the not so reliable weather forecasts there was a break in what had felt like a monsoon over the last few weeks.  So it was time to prep all the equipment.   


Equipment Check

Equipment List

Don't that photo above just look great, super organised and neatly placed, well the reality is a little different :-).  We all like gear but when you need to check, clean, charge; 

  • DJI Inspire 2 + 5 battery sets 
  • Ronin S + Sony A7S2
  • Canon 5DSR + Canon 6D for stills 
  • Not including all the accessories 

Below is the reality.

Charging camera gear

It takes a while to make sure everything is ready to go and then you have to think about packing it so you can get access to everything efficiently.


Transportation / Accommodation 


Due to my location in the Highlands and the shortage of accommodation but also being able to get as close as possible if not staying on location I have been using converted vans.  I had recently changed my van from a VW T5 to a Fiat Ducato as I'm getting more work that is requiring me to be away for longer and the T5 as much as i loved it, you ended up falling over stuff and having no toilet was a bummer... see what i did there :-). 

The Fiat has a two seats at the back i pretty much leave up as a double bed and i leave all my gear at the back so its ready to go, yeah for people who like to pack everything in boxes this is not the best setup but i prefer to be able to grab and go.   When it stopped there is enough worktop space to have the drone all prepped and ready to go with space for the DSLRs and the Ronin to stand upright.  


Traveling / Sleeping

All the gear is beside me so the double bed is pretty much a snug single.

Location Setup

Laptop is set up for copying from SSD to external SSD and for photo editing, and video organising i don't do any video processing on the laptop itself as i always shoot 4k.  Note that the seats at the back are just left as bed setup. 

Mobile Workstation


I will not bore you with all the paperwork, risk assessments, permissions for filming but rest assured there were lots.  







Craig Phadrig

Leaving Ullapool and traveling down to Inverness and staying the night in the car park at Craig Phadrig meant could be on location for sunrise.  I have to admit I never knew about this place, it was the Pictish king Bridei mac Maelchon hill fort on the forested hill on the western edge of Inverness.  You get a true understanding of what the view would have looked like from the fort when you are in the air as you can see from the image you could see way out over the Moray Firth, last shot as the sunrise started to fade.  



Glen Docherty 

Leaving Inverness heading west towards Glen Docherty there was thick fog by the time I got to Glen Docherty the weather had taken a turn for the worst and filming had to be canceled.  Not a complete waste as i drove around the route to see if there were any locations that i had forgotten about.  The wind and rain had constant even by the time i got back to Ullapool. So much for the weather report saying it would be a clear day with scattered showers.,... 

fog Glen Docherty

Glen Docherty Take 2 

Watching the weather forecast after a couple of days there was a break in the weather and tomorrow was looking good.  Charge everything again and leave at silly o'clock to get down to Glen Docherty for sunrise to give me the best chance at getting some good light.   Driving down the weather from Ullapool was scattered clouds. However, when i got to Glen Docherty just before sunrise there was a thick blanket of cloud moving in.   I sat and waited and waited and waited some more, the light was flat and there is no point filming, its all about the light after all.   

What was really eating away at me was there was a break in the cloud which was pretty much over the edge of the coast, this lovely bit of blue sky appearing, now that would have been fantastic if that rolled over the Glen, but after waiting 4 hours i called it a day as the weather was not going to improve and if it did the sun would start to be in the wrong location.  

There is that annoying bit of blue sky that was close but not close enough. 

Break in the cloud



To be continued. 




Company No SC461677


Copyright © 2023 Steven Gourlay Photography Ltd.


+880 322448500 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles