It might seem an obvious thing to say, but people really do live the most extraordinary lives. Iain Ferguson was at the UK’s photographic “frontline” of the Cold War after developing a passion for photography and video from an early age.

That passion for photography has also continued through his life – with stunning results. 

A passion for photography

Iain’s first experience using a video camera

Iain’s first experience using a video camera (© Iain Ferguson)

As a youngster, Iain started off his photography and video interest by using the family video camera. As a teenager he started taking special effect photos of military models. Like many fellow photographers of the time his first proper camera was a Zenit B.

This gave him the chance to experiment with different lenses and close up bellows.

His growing interest in photography led him to leave school at 16 and join the Fleet Air Arm in 1972, and to work towards specialising as a Royal Navy (RN) Photographer.

After a few years with 845 Commando Helicopter Squadron and some time on Fire and Rescue duties at Portland, he enrolled on the Joint Forces Photographic Course at RAF Cosford.

It was an intense course covering many areas of photography. Half his course failed to get through the rigorous tests and assignments. He found working with 5×4 cameras and films the most difficult part and was glad to get through that part of the course.

Life as a Royal Navy photographer 

Margaret Thatcher during a visit to Faslane in 1978 as the then Leader of the Opposition by Iain Ferguson

Margaret Thatcher during a visit to Faslane in 1978 as the then leader of the opposition (© Iain Ferguson)

A conventional submarine leaving Faslane to go on patrol by Iain Ferguson

A conventional submarine leaving Faslane to go on patrol (© Iain Ferguson)

Iain’s first selfie.  Using a Hasselblad on a mission to capture images of the Russian aircraft carrier Kiev by Iain Ferguson

Iain’s first selfie. Using a Hasselblad on a mission to capture images of Russian aircraft carrier Kiev (© Iain Ferguson)

On successful completion of his course Iain was drafted to HMS Neptune, the Royal Naval Submarine base at Faslane, where he served until leaving the forces in 1979. Faslane is home to the UK’s nuclear deterrent carried by submarines.

The work at Faslane was interesting and varied. Submarines required specialised photographic support and he even spent some time submerged in one while covering a visit by Lord Mountbatten to one on patrol.

They flew out to the submarine by helicopter and were then winched down to it. Iain recalls seeing water dripping down the inside of the boat and Lord Mountbatten said to him not to worry: “They all do that”.

He also photographed other VIPs and royalty including a young Prince Charles, Roger Moore during the filming of “The Spy Who Loved Me” and the then leader of the opposition, Margaret Thatcher.

Other work included taking aerial photos of RN ships in the Clyde area and even the occasional Russian Warship further out to sea.

These shots were normally done from Sea King helicopters but for submarines the best photos were taken from MOD Police launches crossing their bows as they left Faslane.

Since leaving the Fleet Air Arm Iain has kept up his interest in photography and video over the years.

Beautiful landscape photography

The stunning Loup of Fintry waterfall in full flow by Iain Ferguson

The stunning Loup of Fintry waterfall in full flow (© Iain Ferguson)

Living in Scotland, Iain is surrounded by stunning scenery and one of his favourite type of shots is flowing water and waterfalls. His favourite location is the Loup of Fintry which lies about 10 miles North East of Glasgow in the Campsies.

To catch the dreamy like flowing water requires a slow shutter speed, so a tripod is essential.

Iain always carries both a 7dayshop tripod and a 7dayshop monopod walking pole in the boot of his car, which are great for low speed shots.

Often the light is still too bright so he needs to use his 7dayshop Neutral Density filters to enable him to decrease the light so as to increase the length the shutter is open.

A typical shot is taken with a lens around 18mm, ISO 100, F22 and 2 to 3 second exposure with a ND8 Filter.

Shop at 7dayshop.com for memory cards and more

Shop at 7dayshop.com for memory cards and more

The camera does not need to be expensive, these were shot on an entry level Nikon D40 with standard 18-55mm zoom lens and 7dayshop SD cards.

Iain used to use a Nikon remote release to fire the shutter, but now uses the Triggertrap app and dongle to fire off his shutter.

The app has a wide range of controls and settings and can even be set off by sounds, movement or by GPS.

Iain normally just uses iPhoto on an iMac to edit his photos. However he recently started to use Mac photo editing apps by a company called Macphun. He has now upgraded his apps to the pro versions which include Plugins for Lightroom, Aperture and Photoshop.

Iain did purchase a copy of Adobe Elements to edit photos but says that he finds the Macphun software far more intuitive and more suited to the enhancements he wants to add.

According to the photographer, the different software apps allow him easily enhance the photo, remove unwanted items from photos, highlight particular colours, add a wide variety of Focus effects to an image – with their latest Tonality app allowing him to make extensive back and white enhancements to a colour original. Iain’s shot of Eilean Donan Castle has been edited with MacPhun’s Intensify and Focus Apps.

Eileen Donnan Castle, edited with Macphun Intensify Pro and Focus 2 Pro by Iain Ferguson

Eilean Donan Castle, edited with Macphun Intensify Pro and Focus 2 Pro (© Iain Ferguson)

Crystal ball photography

Ben Nevis waterfall, enhanced with Macphun Intensify Pro by Iain Ferguson

Ben Nevis waterfall, enhanced with Macphun Intensify Pro (© Iain Ferguson)

Iain has also recently begun using crystal balls in his photography – his interest being sparked by a Facebook group. After buying an 80mm Crystal ball from Amazon he has experimented with them on his outdoor shots.

Most are taken handholding the camera and the ball and shooting at around 50mm.

It’s an area he is continuing to experiment with so hopefully he can give us tips over the coming months.

He has used Macphun Intensify Pro in his work.

A happy 7dayshop customer

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The 7dayshop monopod/walking pole

Iain has been a customer with 7dayshop for many years now and has purchased a wide range of items which he uses for photography and video work. He likes the wide range of affordable camera supports and tripods and his favourite is the trek monopod with tripod adapter.

It’s a great walking pole and very handy for getting steady shots in low light. He also uses it to capture shots from above angles. He finds it amazing for getting close up video while skating, which is a major pastime of Iain’s.

He uses 7dayshop filters, batteries and memory cards and finds them excellent value and quality. Recently he won our 7dayshop 14h anniversary draw and treated himself to a wide range of 7dayshop gadgets and accessories.

Iain said it was like a “mini Gadget Show” win and he will be putting many of the items to use on a forthcoming photographic workshop trip to Iceland which he won through a worldwide competition run by Macphun.

He even uses a 7dayshop in car DVR to record his daily journeys. “You never know what you will capture with one of these”, he says after capturing the antics of a quad biker on a local road.

Other links

Click here to learn about aerial kite photography

How to take pictures of wildlife on your doorstep - click here to read more

How to take pictures of wildlife on your doorstep – click here to read more

Check out Iain Ferguson’s videos of motorcycling, driving and skating videos on YouTube > click here

Iain’s recommendations of useful photo sites:

Photos used with permission of the featured photographer, views and recommendations are those of the featured photographer. 7dayshop is not responsible for any external links

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