An insanely early trip to Loch Awe and Kilchurn Castle this week. Arriving at 5.30am before sunrise we picked our way through the marsh to the edge of the water and waited for the dawn. The air was still and clear with a magical display of stars above. To be honest, the images from this trip are a bit underwhelming but there’s always something to observe and learn. The photographs have a subtle shift in colour as the light rises from a blue pre-dawn light that is flat and mysterious with 30 seconds of exposure time to the warmer tones at first light and the harsher contrast and warmer light as the sun clears the hills.
Niall and I got to discussing the merits of each situation. Most of the pictures we have seen are taken after sunrise because most people are infinitely more sensible than the the two of us stumbling around in marshland in the dark to catch the very first light of the day. The fully lit scene is normal. It looks like the landscape we all experience. It’s ok but its familiarity makes it less interesting I think. That blue, flat light that comes from no direction in particular is a rare thing. We both agreed that even if we did not make any earth-shattering images that day just to be in that light, at that place for a few minutes to experience something that is out of the ordinary is worth the 3am rise.
It was a delight to be back to the place that always will feel like home to me. Lewis was where I grew up and the landscape of moors, lochs, cliffs and beaches is always a tonic for me. Even more important than the place are the people. Warm, genuine and down to earth. I always leave feeling refreshed and happy. Thanks to everyone who passed time with me and with my family these last 2 months.
The Highlands of Scotland are, in many ways a subarctic environment. Our weather is moderated and made utterly unpredictable by our position at the junction of 6 great air masses. There has always been variability over long and short cycles but, to my mind, the evidence of climate change potentiation by the gasification of fossilised carbon seems strong. To be in Glencoe in mid January with the ice melting before my eyes does make me reflect on my part in this change.
Melting ice in a small tributary of Loch Bà on Rannoch Moor.
Looking for rhythm and conjunctions in the landscape. Sometimes where the natural and the manufactured come together and sometimes where the elements of the wild landscape meet to give a satisfying sense of order. Making order out of the chaos and danger of our surroundings seems, I think, to be a universal human desire.
The scourge of digital photography is the “costlessness”of pressing the shutter release. Excuse the invention of a new word for this. This is a case in point. I took about 10 images of the same scene. I like them all. They are all my babies. Then I have to pick a favourite. Film was easier (…is easier if you’re Bruce Percy…) I guess as you had a single chance and that was it. Perhaps film was harder as you had to be sure of your intention and timing. After much pacing around and squinting at the 10 this was the one that won out… For today.
For the large version please click on the image in gallery page 2.