The Empty Landscape

portencross pier with lichens

portencross pier with lichens

Like most people I enjoy looking at interesting portraits as well as images of people interacting with each other and with the world around them. We are social animals and endlessly fascinated by each other. Consequently most people don’t find images of empty landscapes compelling. I sometimes wonder, having made an image, “Is there enough here to justify this composition?”.

I was having just such an angst on Portencross Pier the other night. The sun had gone down and the light was just stunningly blue and clear. I was standing there looking at the angle the concrete pier made relative to the horizon. Imagining a line from my feet to the distant horizon and the complementary angles that would be formed where those line meet. I imagined the construction worker many years ago marking out the lines on the concrete when he was going to cut the slots to allow the water to drain through the pier. Carefully cutting with his still saw to achieve those straight black lines. I enjoyed the complimentary colours of the blue sea and those yellow lichens and then it dawned on me that the lichens grew in a zone along the edge of the pier but no further . Why? What was different about the habitat in that zone? No idea and still can’t work it out.

There is an uneasy feeling in these empty, long-exposure images where man-made structures protrude into the natural environment. A sense that the landscape, even the man-made landscape does not need us any more. We are the ephemeral element here whereas the landscape is relentless and unyielding. It is full of interest if we look for it. There is beauty in the geometry and the maths, the natural and the constructed if we look for it. Without the distraction of people the empty scene started to tell its own story.

Camerwork: Canon 5D mk3, 63 seconds as f/11, ISO100. 3 stop hard grad on the sky and 3 stop ND over entire frame.

Balance and Weight

portencross sunset small cloud

Portencross Sunset with Small Cloud

Technical: canon 5D3, 17-40 lens at 20mm, ISO100, 2″@f/16. Lee filters on the sky.

Conditions: slight breeze at sunset with a gentle swell on the water.

I can’t make up my mind about the balance of this image. There is a diagonal that goes up to the small cloud and seems to balance with the small rock lower left. It’s bottom heavy. Perhaps a square aspect ratio but then those nice lines in the rock are lost.

One picture can be many images.

Storm clouds over Taransay

Storm clouds over Taransay

Technical: Canon 5D3, 17-40 lens at 27mm, 2.5 seconds @f/16, ISO 100. 3stop hard grad ND filter on the sky. RAW file processed in Lightroom and PS CS6.

Conditions: Late evening with the sun obscured behind storm clouds. Strong swell and moderate wind.

I was initially attracted by the star-like pattern created in the sand as the waves washed in and out. I was very focused on that and was cursing the clouds that had covered the warm evening sunlight and left the scene “dull”. On reviewing the picture after 4 months I see a completely different image. The main character of the show is that dark brooding storm cloud and the sense of imminent change that it brings to scene.

Took this image on Bruce Percy‘s excellent workshop.