COLIN Prior is acknowledged as one of the world’s most acclaimed landscape photographers, someone who made his name with a set of panoramic images that defined wild Scotland for a generation.
But, using the latest digital technology, he’s now starting out again to make a definitive record of three iconic mountains in the northwest Highlands.
These include what many regard as our finest summit, An Teallach.
The Adventure Show cameras have followed his progress, between the winter and spring equinoxes, and discover that the result of six months’ work is just a handful of images.
Colin Prior Mountain Man – North West Highlands is being broadcast on BBC Two Scotland, on Monday, April 17, at 20.00. South of the border, it can be seen on FreeSat and Sky Digital. It will also be on the BBC’s iPlayer in HD after the broadcast.
Here, Richard Else, executive producer for Adventure Show Productions, answers the questions…
Who commissioned the documentary
Ewan Angus was the commissioning editor for BBC Scotland, with David Harron executive producer for the channel.
Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’
We wanted a cinematic feel to the film and that’s hard to accomplish in a mountain environment. We wanted our filmmaking to be of the same standard as Colin’s images, but also wanted a programme beyond just pure photography and to set his work in a wider context of understanding our landscape.
Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?
We’re a small, tightly-knit team – headed by Margaret Wicks, our series producer.
The camera work was principally undertaken by Paul Diffley with some scenes shot by Simon Willis and myself.
We couldn’t undertake our work without the help of expert mountain people like Paul Tattersall and Connor Brown.
One of their roles is safety but their contribution goes far beyond that and helps shape the final film. Cameron McNeish plays an invaluable role as presenter/narrator and is long-time admirer of Colin’s work.
What kit and software?
The film was shot on Panasonic and Canon video cameras together with a Nikon DSLR. Editing was in Final Cut Pro with dubbing in Pro Tools.
What were the main production challenges?
The winter just past was one of the most unpredictable in recent years, so we had lots of false starts and many of our mountain ascents began at 2 a.m.
In addition to all the film equipment, full winter mountaineering gear was often necessary, including ice axe and crampons. All food and equipment was hand carried and no helicopters, etc. were used.
What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?
We’re pleased to have been able to produce a film that not only shows Colin is one of the world’s great landscape photographers, but also set this in a wider context of the North-west Highlands and the people who live and work there.