Long Time No Sea: Western Isles, July 2021.

Beach at Borve, Harris.

Every time I go back to Lewis I am simultaneously happy and worried. The bond we form to the place into which we were born is enduring. The intensity of childhood experience and the memories we form in those early years are especially strong. As I get older, I worry that someday I will get off the ferry and feel like a tourist in an unfamiliar place. Happily that day has not yet come. I still have a better mental map of Lewis and Harris than the area where I now live. Every road and corner, the town, the castle grounds, the beaches are all still connected to those strong childhood memories. I recall who had chickens on the steep hill behind the main street in Tarbert, who I played with on what beaches, what it felt like to bush walk through the rhododendrons in the castle grounds, balancing on the sewage pipe to get across the river at Bayhead and on and on. A storm of memories around every corner.

Some things do throw my sense of place off balance though. The Scalpay bridge does this. Probably due the huge scale of the bridge coming up against those strong memories of going over to Scalpay before the bridge existed. It feels like the present and the past refusing to co-exist in my conscious mind. I wonder why this might be. I like change and I don’t like pointless nostalgia. I get that from my father who was always looking for the next thing to do in business and even in retirement at the age of 83 he’s still ripping out flower beds and starting from scratch. His philosophy was simple: If change gives people work and jobs then it’s a good thing.

So why does the my mind refuse to be impressed by the Scalpay bridge? I think it’s because I have a memory of Scalpay to which I attach entirely unreasonable importance. I used to spend the summer holidays helping Iain, the carpet fitter who worked for my dad, lay carpets all over the island. One job, on Scalpay, was on a particularly gorgeous summer day. I was sitting with Iain on the back of the Luton van listening to the Beatles on a portable cassette player eating a sandwich, looking out over this peaceful landscape while Iain puffed away on his roll-up. It sits in my memory as a moment of total peace and happiness. I wonder if the bridge is a reminder that that moment is gone forever, never to be experienced again. As a good friend once said to me: “Shut up, you hippy”.

Omer.

For Manoj.

Hi Manoj, These are there more abstract images from yesterday morning (01/11/20) at Loch Chon that you wanted to see. The exposure was causing havoc with the camera sensor so I still need to sort out the colour grading.

Seasons Turning

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Dunkeld, Scotland.

An early morning visit to the river Braan reveals the subtle change in hue and tone across the forest as Autumn creeps in.

The sunlight in the river valley is just beautiful. Areas of darkness punctuated by shafts of light that light up the leaves like lanterns of green and yellow.

It’s a bit too much work to write up all the camera settings etc but if anyone is interested to know I would be happy to message you back.

Once again a big thanks to Manoj for the company and the chat.

Loch Chon as the Heavens opened.

Loch Chon Rain and Reeds

Loch Chon Rain and Reeds

Camera work: Canon 5D3 with a 17-40L at 17mm, 0.4″@f/16, ISO 100.

Conditions: Moderate breeze. Heavy rain.

Out at Loch Chon in the Trossachs area near Aberfoyle for sun up today. Thanks Manoj for the company and your patience in the face of being soaked to the skin to get a photograph.

It rained heavily and incessantly for hours and hours. I love these conditions. It’s challenging but pays off with the beautifully muted colours and the separation the rain creates between the Island in the middle of the loch and the forest behind.

At this point I dropped my camera into the loch and my morning’s work came to an abrupt end. Had to happen someday. This is the danger of working with a tripod in the rain while up to your knees in water. I must ¬†buy one of those fancy camera bags that allow access to camera without having to juggle on open sack on your knees. My apologies to everyone I previously told that such bags were a gimmick. Consider me bitten in the bum.

Isle of Harris Beach Scene

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.

Stormy Beach, Isle of Harris

Stormy Beach, Isle of Harris

 

Olive Trees and Grass, Umbria.

Olive Trees and Grass, Umbria.

Olive Trees and Grass, Umbria.

Conditions: Early evening, light breeze moving the white grass around. Light filtering through olive trees.

Tech:Canon 5Dmk3, 30 secs @f/11, ISO 200. No filters, 70mm focal length.

The light on the grass was beautiful if a bit hard to keep from over exposing.

 

St Monans Breakwater

Image

St Monans Breakwater

Good day out on the east coast with Niall and Joe. This great looking breakwater hides behind the harbour wall at St Monans. The stormy weather and tidal surge created some nice water movement and moody sky.
Camera work: Canon 5Dmk3, ISO50, 1/4sec @f/16. 17-40L lens at 21mm. 3stop ND grad on sky and further 3 stop ND grad over entire frame. Lens cloth working furiously to clean the sea spray off the front.

Trophy Hunting

the hermitage in autumn

the hermitage in autumn

Technical: Canon 5DMk3, 17-40 lens at 22mm, 25 seconds at f/16, ISO 100. Polarising filter and a 2 stop NG soft grad.

Conditions: Mid afternoon. Slight breeze with hazy cloud cover.

If you are looking for some clear advice on landscape technique I would recommend the ebooks of Darwin Wiggett. He has one in particular called “Trophy Hunting” in which he discusses the pros and cons of making images at well known and sometimes over-used locations. This is a day when I must confess to setting out to “bag” a certain shot. My 10 year old son and I had a budget of 4 hours to make the 2 hour round trip and make the shot. Darwin talks about finding a new angle, a new way to imagine the scene. I didn’t do that. I did what every one else does because there was such a pull on my preconception neurons that I was dragged into a creativity black hole. I could not imagine it any other way. So I took the shot just as my son fell into a large pool of water and hence did not notice I had stuffed up the focus. Oops. Guess we will be coming back here some day for some more trophy hunting.