Dunskey Castle Ruins, Portpatrick.
[All Images: Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Internal Conversion]
[All Images: Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Internal Conversion]
Why the heck has it taken me so flippin’ long to get back up here to shoot this gorgeous church? As with the Goldielea Viaduct (Post 163) – Crichton Church has always been one of those places regularly on my map, a constant and long since dog-eared post-it note in my head to come and photograph it on some such blue-sky day as this.
Lately, I have been seeing it rather a lot (four times a week as it happens) because, I pass it each time I head out for another of my twice weekly physio sessions. Set virtually in the centre of the beautiful 100 (or so) acre grounds of the Crichton Campus (this place has so much history, it’s ridiculous – see here, at Wiki if you’d like to have a read up) it commands a vast space, popular and well known to anyone who has ever had any reason to visit; and they’d be many.
The Crichton Campus itself is home not only to the University of the West of Scotland (this happens to be its smallest campus) but also local businesses (which have, since 2013, set up in many of its grand, sandstone buildings throughout the estate – after the closure and relocation of the old psychiatric hospital); it’s also a very popular location for wedding parties and holiday-makers and, as you might imagine from this, the grounds are usually a lot busier with people than these frames might suggest. On this day, I got very lucky.
I really do hope you’ll enjoy these first few frames of this little series, photographed during mid-morning only a few weeks ago, as the season seemed to more firmly dig its heels in, we did have to hang around for a good hour or more while we waited for the lower mid-autumn sun to gain a little more altitude for these captures. (Thankfully, there’s a wonderful bistro on campus that serves a fabulous cooked breakfast!) Frame 2 is a little hello from us, to you – as I prepare to return to work next week after what has been a strenuous seven months to say the least, and also, a proud statement on my part that the one who has been right here with me through it all, is still smiling, even in shadow.
As am I.
For now, toodle-pip!
In PT.I of my Falkirk Wheel posts, I wrote a little about the principle behind the purpose and mechanics of the wheel itself and also, about how it felt to me – to photograph such an incredible piece of engineering whilst having to continually exclude so much of the theme-park scenery that only seems to serve in diminishing the importance of the feat itself while at the same time maximising revenue in any way possible, from visitors. Sadly, thus – t’is the way of things and I am probably going to have a little mini-rant, now – ahem.
When I look back at these pictures, I still can’t help feeling a twinge inside, one of sadness that the only way to make money from this is to sell anything that anyone is prepared to buy and encircle the entire structure with all manner of food and drink stalls, kids rides, gift shops, you name it. Yes, I know I sound like a whinging ol’ duffer, but imagine anything else that you feel is somewhat worthy of being singled-out and displayed for its importance, (be it in history, engineering, art, music, literature, politics, anything) and finding it surrounded by countless cheap, punter-drawing sideshows replete with the obligatory pink and yellow bouncy castle. (I’m not entirely sure why I suddenly find myself thinking about Jenson Button’s 2009 Brawn F1 car, or Damon Hill’s 1996 Williams but, some things are important enough that they shouldn’t need all that razzmatazz, instead, being allowed to stand out for just being what they are). How wonderful it would be to just appreciate something without having to waste mental energy on negotiating around all the ever present, peripheral crap. Have a theme-park by all means – just, create a little more space between, enough to give everyone the opportunity to make a decision on how they wish to enjoy it, including we who don’t give a monkey’s about facile distractions.
I find it a shame because, I love these shots – but I can’t enjoy them as much as I know I would have, had I have been able to move more freely around to appreciate and photograph it from angles completely prohibited by all the man-made, money-making tat around it. As I remarked, on posting a few infrared frames in PT.I – it really is a must-see, but I simply cannot buy into the modern theme-park ideal that spoils the natural scenery around what is in both design and function, a beautiful structure. Shooting to the sky is the only way to capture it unfettered, but at more ground-level angles it deserves a much plainer backdrop.
I absolutely love the way that the wheel plays with the light, the boldness of the structures and the intimacy of its workings. For contrast, the IR series in PT.I seriously does it for me but these standard frames (shot on my Df, for anyone interested) have a clean edge that lends very well to its subject. Despite a little (ahem) commentary, I hope you’ll have enjoyed them too.
Can’t please everyone, eh?
Towards the end of last autumn and as winter approached, I discovered to my complete joy that in all the years that I have been enjoying shooting infrared light, it is in fact possible to revel in it the whole year-round; weather permitting of course. No longer do I feel that ol’ sinking feeling once the clocks go back in the so-called knowledge that my IR cameras should just get hung up again until the spring and instead, I simply look forward to the next IR-perfect day on which I can get back out there and shoot. Subject matter is everything of course and here in Scotland there is no shortage of inspiration nor of places as yet unseen through my lenses.
Whilst some of my subjects may appear (even to me) safe, popular, somewhat predictable even, I cannot help but feel a huge amount of happiness and satisfaction at being able to capture them under lightwaves less commonly photographed and, share an alternative view of my world that to most, is not often enjoyed. Caerlaverock Castle is certainly one of D&G’s most prominent and beautiful landmarks and, back in June – on the day of the summer solstice, my IR-eye was put back to work. The first post of this two-parter was published only eleven posts ago, yet all the way back in August which only makes me realise just how much catching up I still have to do however, I have been extremely busy during my recovery from the events of April and, there still seems so much to do – but I really am getting there and, to be bluntly honest, it really is a bloody good feeling. Sure, I am a little snowed under, but I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.
As summers pass and autumns draw; let winters come and thwart no more.
My lens will be there; somewhere.
[All Images: Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Internal Conversion.]
Postscript: I have recently upgraded my standard WP plan (note the slight change in site address – yes, the old link will still bring you to my homepage) so – no more ads! To any of you who read my pages and are not WP subscribers, thank you and, I do hope that this change improves your reading experience.
[Images: Ricoh GR 720nm IR Conversion – w/35mm Internal Crop.]
These two frames have been a long time (for me, anyway) on my shortlist for posting, since my initial publication of my first infrared captures of this beautiful ruin, back in May. They were captured in the middle of April just nine days before I became incapacitated (for a while at least) and for me – they still have great significance and certainly more than would ever allow me to forget the past and simply move on without acknowledgement of it.
Life was good. And it is, still.
[Postscript: Sadly, I have learned of late that this gorgeous ruin has been subjected to no small levels of recent vandalism and, I feel even more fortunate to have captured when I did. I have not yet returned to it but when (and if) I do, I know already just how upset I will feel. So, I do hope you’ll enjoy these frames as I am almost certain that no-one is going to put their hands in their pockets for the clean-up. A sobering likelihood of all our todays.]
[Images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
When I first moved up to Scotland, this disused viaduct was very soon to be a very regular sight for me – in that my regular work travels around the area of Dumfries & Galloway put it often in my line of sight. Needless to say, taking my love of old, bold structures, landscape and infrared photography into consideration, I have surprised myself that almost twenty years have passed and, I have only recently photographed it. From the roadside, it stands tall and proud, around two-hundred yards away amidst fields and forestry and, a care home stands directly in front of it. Behind it, sits a house and its grounds that, from first appearances, look to have once been a large stable block and yard. It’s unarguably a beautiful and idyllic spot.
It was a couple of months ago when a rare day occurred; the sun came out early in the morning and seemed to threaten hard to remain out all day so, I grabbed one of my IR cameras; not specifically for this series of images though, moreso to just throw in my small back-pack for a bike-ride with Angela that would take us through some gorgeous scenery and eventually terminate here – on the Dalbeattie side of Cargenbridge (on the outskirts of Dumfries). All the recent physiotherapy I have been having, though massively helpful, could not have filled my mind with the strength I seemed to feel on this day. An all-too-short twelve miles of road and off-road climbs under a relentlessly blue sky and increasing heat, pushing my legs to the limit and straining my once broken spine into comfortable submission had me feeling on top of the world and then, we climbed towards the viaduct that I have seen so many times over the years. Today, I would bag it. About time, indeed.
Thank you for reading my pages and, I do hope you’ll enjoy these three (rather later than they deserve to be) frames.
It’s not what you’d expect and it certainly was not what I expected it to be either; I didn’t do any research, favouring surprise over fore-knowledge of a place that is often mentioned but not yet visited. Much like a literary classic, I suppose, that sits on the shelf for years and soon becomes ignored until the day when it simply falls into your hand. Well, it was that close and quite simply could not be ignored.
The Falkirk Wheel is a monumental piece of engineering – a rotating boat lift that since 2002 has reconnected the Forth & Clyde Canal (below) and the Union Canal (above), the first time since the 1930s. The site itself is one of the most staggering pleasures to the eyes but I have to say, that turning the whole place into a theme-park doesn’t lend well to the sheer awe of it all. Certainly, it will draw huge income and just as likely, it makes life a little tricky for any photo-enthusiast (ie: moi!) to make images of the prime attraction – the wheel itself. Nonetheless, without wishing to sound like an affiliate to the Scottish Tourist Board (or an anti-affiliate at that) for anyone who is interested in the waterways of Scotland, or anywhere for that matter, or engineering – this thing is a must see.
It works on the principle of Archimedes theory of displacement (that a body immersed in water displaces its own weight in water) thus, each of the two gondolas contains 250 tonnes (250,000 litres) of water without a boat within, or the same weight when containing a vessel. This means that enough electricity to boil a few kettles is required to get the wheel turning before the balance of the two gondolas (180 degrees from each other) keep the wheel turning in perfect balance with each other. It’s all extremely simply yet, ridiculously clever.
Here, I have done my best to capture some of the essence of the Wheel whilst sticking to the idea of conscious exclusion, (in other words, without the pedalos, ice-cream stalls, crowds and, bouncy castles, for instance). I do hope you’ll enjoy this first instalment.
[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
It’s simply not possible to visit these mind-blowing structures by day and to not return after sunset to see them in their dazzling, alternative guise. After the child-like exuberance I enjoyed while photographing them with my two IR cameras earlier in the afternoon, I suffered yet more of it with the anticipation of returning after sundown, to shoot them again, this time lit up from their insides against a darkening, moody evening sky. A few expletives leap to mind when I remember just what I thought to myself as the Kelpies began to shine – and only seemed to intensify.
Oddly, I did not take a tripod with me, trusting instead that my Df would handle the low-light pretty well (especially as I was only ever intending to capture them for black and white) therefore, all of these frames were snagged hand-held, 28mm at ISO:6400. I’ve included a colour frame original from shot one, at the end. I really do hope you’ll enjoy them!
[Thanks, Alena, for the sub-heading – by far the funniest comment I’ve received in a long while, I can tell you!]
My first break away since the big breaks! Without you, these shots wouldn’t have even happened. For your patience and, my motivation – thank you!
By the end of July I was already starting to get back on my feet, so, after almost three months of restrictions, it was time for us to plan a road-trip and – do something a little bit different. I dumped the crutches in the boot of the car (just in case) and, we headed to Grangemouth, home of the Kelpies, for a few days r’n’r.
Though we’d read before about these incredible structures, nothing could have actually prepared us for the sight that awaited us as we approached them on the motorway. Our hotel destination was only a mile or so away from The Helix where these two stunning 300-tonne, 30m high, steel-panelled structures are situated, so we couldn’t have been better placed. Within an hour of checking in, I’d already loaded up the cameras I’d be using to photograph them and, we were setting off on foot already towards the canal and – towards our first close-up look at the Kelpies; the name itself deriving from the Scottish word for shape-shifting water spirits which inhabit Scotland’s lochs and pools.
Designed and built by Andy Scott in 2013, the Kelpies have been given huge acclaim and attract millions of visitors every year. Its not hard to see why. Standing upon a specially constructed lock and basin, they dominate the skyline in a way so rarely seen, anywhere. For this reason alone, I was determined to capture them in infrared right from the off but in fact, the first and third frame I shall post here, were shot on day two when the clouds had finally lifted to let the sun in. Frame two was shot on day one under less than ideal IR conditions but, has to be included to give some frame of reference as to their domineering and imposing presence. They truly are a sight to see and, I do hope you’ll enjoy these first few frames.
On a side note, I would like to thank, so much, all of you who follow or regularly read my pages and my works for bearing with me. It’s been a really difficult year since April but I am very glad to say that not only am I recovering extremely well, but I have been so busy enjoying the fruits of life again that I have found ridiculously little time to sit, process, write or do much else for that matter. I really have been making up for lost time, which is another way of saying – my catalogue of shots has been increasing lately!
It’s bally good to be back, so, for reading me again – thank you!
[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
It’s not often that I get overly personal through my pages but constant reflection urges me to do so right now. As a passionate photographer, I love to capture, to record in the best way I know how – life; or rather, important scenes and snippets in time (from it). That’s what we do. Our reasons for doing so may change over time or may simply be dependant on the occasion or our subject matter however, but in truth – when I want to give something back, so to speak, a photograph is the probably the most indelible, lasting gift that I can give, outside of my own self. Insosaying, my time isn’t only spent wandering around old ruins, though by many of my recent posts you would be forgiven for believing so.
Most of my past four months, in fact, have been spent recuperating (something which I am still doing, and happily I can say – with great improvement) and spending wonderful, quality time with my loved ones. It is fair to say that (especially) lately, in a multitude of ways my life has taken an huge amount of positive turns because of many yet mostly, unforgettably, because of the one most special person in my life – and, a great majority of those turns have been made possible and almost certainly could not have been so without her. It’s her face that I want to see whenever I walk into a room, whenever I pick up a camera, if only to capture her and to remind her to really look, and to see what I see. But she seldom does.
One day, I hope that she will see her importance to me and to many through her guises as a mother, a best friend, a lover, a sister, a daughter and granddaughter, a seamstress, an inspiration, a rock, no – my rock; and, my comfort. (As it turns out, contrary to her gentle demeanour – she’s a painfully merciless backgammon player too!)
From thin air, through open eyes and, straight to my heart.
To find Drumlanrig so void of people on a gorgeous day like this is a rarity, a real rarity in fact. Perhaps it had something to do with the different timings of the school summer holidays between Scotland and England because from past experience, this place is usually teeming with people at this time of year. However, I complain not a bit simply because it did mean that I could exercise complete selfishness without a hint of guilt. Therefore, a few more IR frames from a place I love. To my mind – there’s no better way to see it.
When things turn for the worst, we all need some kind of crutch to get us through – something (or things) that we can truly lean on. There’s no subtle message here, though. Besides the obvious, it’s not only been the sticks that have got me on my feet again. Though it was only the beginning, the end of April was a horrifying time for me and I have had no end of support from so, so many people. Friends, work friends and colleagues, healthcare professionals, family and of course, my love and my rock, Angela. I owe so many – so much.
On the inside though, it has been imperative that I am and remain as positive as I can possibly be and this is why, in writing this short post, I remember and continue to appreciate the support, care and love of every single person to have been here for me and, for those especially – who remain. No, I am not yet out of the woods, but I can see a clearing. Without every single iota of support that I have received over the last almost fifteen weeks, I am certain that I would not be in such good spirits, nor as motivated and hopeful as I unquestionably feel. The reason I’m writing these words, is this: these pictures of the beautiful Caerlaverock Castle are extremely important to me for one huge reason – they are the first outdoor pictures I photographed since the latter part of April.
If photography was not another of my crutches, my loves, I don’t know what else I might have leaned upon to get me back out there, and so, with even the minutest support of every single person who helped to get me back out there and the love, support and patience of a very special woman, I was indeed able (after only eight weeks) to make these frames. I get almost tearful when I view them. The afternoon I made these was a struggle for sure – but it never was going to be just about getting a few pictures. Every single person around me – helped me to make them.
In two words: thank you!
Back in early April this year, we visited Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill. You may remember, if you’re a regular reader, that at the time, I was shooting with my then newly internally converted 720nm IR GR [PT.III of original series]- and, what I really wanted to capture were the beautiful gardens here. Sadly, April is a little early and the groundsmen were still working their fingers to the bone in preparing these fabulous grounds for the public and, some shots of the castle itself were the best that I could steal. Once they were open however, we went back – and, what a glorious day it was to wander around and to play with light again.
Don’t be misled by a gentle introduction – this place is stunning in any light and, I hope to do Drumlanrig’s gardens justice over coming posts. I only hope you’ll enjoy them.