Black and White Tour of Scotland by Mark Andre

I'm finally getting through all my photos from my recent trip to Scotland. The first days of my trip were beautiful. Driving past Loch Lomond into Glencoe and Fort William was amazing. The transition into the Highlands from Glasgow was incredible. The drive through Glencoe was a little harrowing. The twisting, turning narrow roads combined with driving on the opposite side of the road made things quite challenging. 

Milarochy Bay on Loch Lomond

Buachaille Etive Mor, Highland

Glencoe, Highland

Exploring the area around Fort William and Glencoe was stunning. 45 minutes along a single-lane road lead me to the shores of Loch Etive. It's remote and quiet waters were stunningly gorgeous and serene. The way the landscape of this area bends down and becomes the water is something almost dreamlike. It seemed too perfect. 

Loch Etive, Highland

Logging Barge on Loch Etive, Highland

Back towards the main road, the falls of Buachaille Etive Mor cut through the landscape out of nowhere, finding the only rocky drop in the plain in the shadow of the mountain. 

Buachaille Etive Mor, Highland

A short drive and hike from the house I was renting in Fort William was Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge. The 120m falls find their way over the mountain face to create a snaking river that cuts the path below one of the highest peaks in the area, Ben Nevis. I spent several gray hours in the gorge before the sun briefly poked its way through the clouds to illuminate the valley. 

Glen Nevis and Steall Falls, Highland

Abandoned Boat near the End of the Caledonian Canal

My last night in Fort William I had dinner near Neptune's Ladder - a series of 9 Locks that make up the end of the Caledonian Canal. I walked along the canal down to the shore of Loch Eil and found this abandoned boat on the beach. 

After departing Fort William, I drove over the Glenfinnan to see the rail viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter movies. 

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Highland

Snow on the Drive to Skye

As I drove up to the Isle of Skye, the weather began to set in. A freak, late season winter storm set in over Northwest Scotland. Bringing alternating bands of sunshine, sleet and snow, and gale force winds, it made my time on Skye very challenging. 

Neist Point, Skye

My first evening on Skye, I stuck off to find a place for sunset. An hour drive down a meandering, single-lane road was Neist Point. It's the western-most point on the island the Neist Point Lighthouse is iconic. Sunset turned out to be gorgeous as the next band of storms set in. What isn't apparent from the images, it the 60+ mile per hour winds that were beating the cliffs. As I returned to the car, the weather really set in with sleet moving so fast in the wind it stung the skin.

 Neist Point, Skye

After watching the snow come down on the eastern side of the island, I went up to the Northern tip to check out the old ruins of Duntulm Castle. A short walk from the road - garnering suspicious looks from the local sheep - left me with a dramatic view of the craggy rock where the castle remains. 

Duntulm Castle, Skye

Bruach na Frìthe and Sgurr nan Gillean, Skye

The next morning, I woke up early to head to the Talisker Distillery. As I was driving towards Silgachan, two of the most iconic peaks on the Isle of Skye were lit by the rising sun. I couldn't help but stop to take a photo. 

Bruach na Frìthe and Sgurr nan Gillean, Skye

The little town of Carbost on the southwestern side of the Isle of Skye is home to the Talisker Distillery. A must see for any Scotch drinker, it's a fun tour with the opportunity to bring back rare bottles. I had to hold myself back to only purchase two bottles. The harbor just outside of the distillery was beautifully serene in the early morning light. 

Loch Harport in Carbost, Skye

Highland Cattle, Skye

On my way from Skye to Edinburgh, I finally saw some Highland Cattle. I'd been keeping an eye out for the whole trip. These were sitting on a rise just off the road.

A couple hours further down the road, I ran across the Laggan Dam. The turn of the century structure is a relic of the old British Aluminum industry. It holds the River Spean to provide power. 

Laggan Dam, Highland

As I got closer to Edinburgh, I stopped off in a wooded area called the Hermitage. It originally served as a pleasure retreat for 18th-Century Dukes. It's now a forest reserve.

Pine Forest, Hermitage, Highland

Upon arriving in Edinburg, I was struck by the beauty of the medieval center city. Its narrow winding streets and strong skyline made me feel right at home. The hotel overlooked the hill-top castle and war museum. 

I spent the next day walking and touring the Scottish Parliament Building designed by EMBT. It's an incredible space and is a superb study in pursuit of a pure architectural idea. Symbols of Scotland's history and culture permeate the building.

Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh

Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh

Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh

Across the street from Parliament is Hollyrood Palace. It serves as the Queen's residence whenever she visits Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots bedroom is maintained in its original glory.

Hollyrood Palace, Edinburg

On my last morning, I stopped by the Forth Rail Bridge. The imposing silhouette is still the second longest cantilever span bridge in the world more than 130 years after its construction.

Forth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh

It was a great trip. As always, I would always want to have another week there to see even more of this beautiful country. 

Weekend in Kansas by Mark Andre

I had the joy of attending a cousin's graduation from my alma mater, Kansas State University. The landscape that surrounds Manhattan, KS is one of the most beautiful I've ever experienced. The Flint Hills are an incredible landscape that changes drastically throughout the seasons.

The flat top, rolling hills formed when water began to erode the ancient limestone seabeds, leaving behind the flat deposits of flint that gave the hills their name. Check out National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson's images to see how it changes through the seasons.

Memorial Day at Arlington by Mark Andre

Once a year Arlington National Cemetery Public Affairs opens up the cemetery for a small group of photographers to witness the sunrise. I chose to be at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It wasn't the most spectacular sunrise, but the sky took on this amazing pink tone that briefly bathed everything in a pink glow.

This scared space is special during normal hours, but to be there and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony with the peace and serenity of sunrise is pretty amazing.