2020: A Photographic Review | 35Chronicle

35mm, black & white, candid, close-up, colour, fine art, full-spectrum, history, Indoor, infrared, landscape, Long Exposure, macro, nature, night / low-light, people, personal, photography, portraits, review, ruins, rural, skies, spring, still life, structures, summer, trees, waterscape

Decisions, Decisions.


Every one of us has a similar story to tell of this trying year that has been – 2020. It was touted as the coming year of clear vision and foresight, change for the better, its number instilling feelings of hope and reason in each of us. It stood for something. Then – it arrived. Instead, it has been the year that has made us all think harder about what it means to be human, about how we act, how we look after ourselves and our fellow man; our families, friends, loved ones and most of all, those whom we will never know and yet we hope that they have also regarded our well-being in just the same way. Not everyone has given it so much thought or consideration though; those who have had us shaking our heads in despair at showings of ignorance or selfishness. That hyper-awareness that has been growing all year, is at its peak now – for those who have been paying attention, that is. So many have suffered and lost, many more have suffered and, will be doing so still. And these thoughts keep me grounded when it comes to looking back over my own personal year – small fish by comparison yet, relevant to what I love.

Over the last ten years, my love for infrared landscape photography has continued to evolve and I have a new love over these latter few years too – old ruins and Marsden-esque scenes that invoke the past, questions, stories forgotten or simply – awe. This year has been a little more tricky though, to capture them. Many places I have wished to visit have been closed or actually close-off, local restrictions have curtailed non-essential travel and I have been made to think a little differently as to what or how I would like to shoot. Another little learning curve has been experienced this year and this can only be a good thing. Creatively, I have still found myself struggling a little – mostly with my own photographic repertoire and not wanting to get ‘stuck’ in a niche – but I think it may be too late for such feelings. The rod is against my back already, however – I feel a coming change in my approach, necessitated by the course of recent history and by the passage of time. Change is inevitable and I can feel it bubbling under the surface. What it will be is yet only a series of random flickers of frames like subliminal advertising pasted inside life’s film reel. They exist – not yet realised. But time is changing us. And it’s changing me. Insosaying, this year’s review isn’t just about looking back at some old photographs – it’s about wondering where I’ll go and what I’ll do next. I still don’t know – but I’m looking forward to finding out. 

It’s been a little tricky for me to select my favourite frames from 2020 – it would’ve been easier if I had chosen by the number of clicks or comments by post. By some choices, I may coincide by accident – but these are my selections based on time, place, feeling and creative satisfaction.  The best I have been able to achieve really is here. All I can hope is that you’ll enjoy this little recap. 

 

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January 2020: The Wedding Trio | Scotland’s Folly – Calton Hill, Edinburgh.

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February 2020: Lowther Castle, Cumbria. 720nm IR | 35mm.

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March 2020: Hermitage Castle. 720nm IR | 35mm.

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April 2020: Seven Tonics [Whatever Gets You Through].

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May 2020: Home School…

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June 2020: Air & Water.

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July 2020: Southerness Lighthouse | 720nm IR w/ Hoya R72 & 10-Stop ND.

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August 2020: Dundrennan Abbey | 720nm IR.

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September 2020: Suspension Bridge Over the Nith.
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October 2020: Scott’s View – Melrose & The Magic of a Fair Maiden’s Hand.

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November 2020: Ol’ Fashioned | 3″ Macro.

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December 2020: The Silent Bell – Hoddom Castle | 720nm IR.

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Thank you all so much for your company and your contributions this year, and to both newer followers and more long-standing readers – I am always eternally grateful for your contributions both to my pages and, for what you yourselves create. Thank you! I wish you all a very happy, prosperous and healthy ’21! Please – join me again when you can. 

Warmest wishes to you all… 

Rob.


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32 Years On: Remembering Pan Am 103 | 35Chronicle

people, photography

21.12.1988.


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There’s not a lot I actually know that hasn’t been in the media over the last 32 years, about the Lockerbie Disaster. Though, this week, the BBC reported that the man alleged to have been behind the making of the bomb that killed 270 people on board Pan Am Flight 103 0n the 21st December 1988 has been charged with terrorism offences. When the disaster occurred, I was still living in my hometown in the Midlands and hadn’t even made the move to Scotland. I wouldn’t even have contemplated that mover for another 11 or 12 years afterwards. I remember the news though and the horror of it all – so many lost; and their families, loved ones, friends, colleagues, fellow students – all of them feeling the pain of this horrific attack. And the people of Lockerbie too, those who died on the ground and those who didn’t. It affected everyone I think, far and wide but none so much as those 270 people who lost their lives on the 21st December 1988. I was 18 when it happened.

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On my commute to work as a paramedic, I pass the Garden of Remembrance at the top of Cemetery Brae before the start of every shift, and after the end of each. In fact, I would probably pass it a dozen times during my shift and over the past fifteen years of being stationed at Lockerbie, like every local or worker in the town – it’s a fixture, easily disregarded when negotiating those bends at speed. There’s a small car park in front of it and the cemetery itself runs a good few hundred yards before one arrives at the memorial.  We arrived yesterday, late morning – barely another person in sight. The day before, however, the annual remembrance ceremony had taken place and fresh flowers and tributes laid for the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Though the people of Lockerbie are seldom heard to talk about it, the disaster is palpably, tangibly close the town’s heart. To the outside world, it’s a town defined almost solely by those awful events – but as one who has worked here for almost 20 years, I can’t agree completely. Yes, there will always be the memory and the scars of what happened to those who lived through it and the knowledge, for those who did not. But the town and it’s people carry on – because that is all that can be done; it’s a very stoic, strong and resolute community. As for the families and loved ones of those who were taken, one can only speculate on the pain that they will feel as they always have since that night. Former Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, said it beautifully when he wrote in a tribute which he placed yesterday, “For those who haven’t been able to make it to Lockerbie this year, you are not forgotten. They are not forgotten.”

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Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with colleagues about what happened that awful night. One such gentleman I spoke with was a former ambulance technician by the name of George White. He was on call that evening and was the first clinician on scene. The horror he faced was something which he was never able to put into actual words and we’d never have forced them either, but by the look on his face as he spoke all those years ago – he told the scene without ambiguity. I remembered George again yesterday when I read one particular name on the plaque. Suzanne Marie Miazga. She was 22 years old. Her body was found on the grounds of the ambulance station directly after the 747 was torn apart; her picture still sits in a frame on the bookshelf in our rest-room, directly beneath the TV. Her life, and the taking of it is also the reason why we tend a pink rose-bush at the corner of the entrance to our station – her name engraved in the brass plaque on the front of the planter. Pink roses were her favourite. Every single person on that flight had a favourite something and that is still worth remembering. 

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During the decades after, Suzanne’s mother kept in regular touch with George and he would travel to the States often to see her; eventually they became so close that they married. Memory fades a little for me now and I can’t remember exactly when they were married but it was certainly within the last ten years. Sadly though, due to failing health, and age – George passed away just a few years ago. As I remember him here, I hope that you’ll have a look at a few frames I grabbed yesterday and remember them all. 

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Never Forget.

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CORSEWALL LIGHTHOUSE: PT.II | LTFS | 35CHRONICLE

black & white, boats, full-spectrum, photography, rural, skies, structures, waterscape

Loch Ryan’s Beacon.


IV.

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V.

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VI.

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Corsewall Lighthouse: PT.I | 720nm IR & LTFS | 35Chronicle

black & white, full-spectrum, history, infrared, landscape, photography, rural, structures, waterscape

The Light & the Dark.

The hotel at the lighthouse had been on our list of places to visit for a little while now, not least because it promotes itself as wedding venue too and, given recent engagements (ahem!) and our fondness for the west of our county, we made the journey during a three day stay in Portpatrick. The coastline is simply stunning here and even though the weather was extremely moody at best (and howling at its worst) there was no way that we were going to forego this particular jaunt. Looking out from the mouth of Loch Ryan it is hard to even contemplate why anyone would wish to look in any other direction, no matter what the elements.

Built around 1816-1817, the fully functioning tower is still run by the Northern Lighthouse Board, however, since automation in 1994 – the rest of the buildings were converted into a hotel. Word has it that in 1817, Corsewall’s Principle Light Keeper had fallen asleep on duty which caused the light to fail for a time, to the detriment of passing ships heading towards the coastline, and so therefore, he was subsequently and severely demoted. In November of 1970, Concorde flew over Corsewall Lighthouse on a trial flight and when passing the tower, it shattered many panes of glass around the light. Later flights by Concorde would not cause the same phenomena. Sadly though, at the time of our visit the whole place was closed due to the effects of Coronavirus and ensued restrictions and, we were unable to enter. Instead, after a lovely walk around the place and taking in the views, Bumble sought protection from the ever worsening elements inside the car, and why not? Nobody wants to get soaking wet or freezing cold on their birthday!

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I |  The Hotel & Tower [720nm IR]

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As I walked Bumble back from the hotel itself towards the car, having wandered around the tower and the foghorn together so that I could grab a few frames, we were met by a lady in her 4×4 who, having sped down the hill stopped alongside us on approach to the building and wound down her window to speak to us. Then, she asked the one question that is guaranteed to irk me more than any other when I am making my frames. “Can I help you?” she asked. Well, “I don’t know, can you take over shooting for me if I should suddenly forget how to do it?” I wanted to reply. Instead, I refrained from sarcasm and exchanged politely with her until she explained that she owned the place and was popping in to check her emails. Why would I even care about that? In truth, I think our presence triggered off a sensor or we were on camera perhaps, prompting her expedient arrival from her nearby abode. I mean, I can see how a couple like us would put a lot of fear into someone – especially when you take in the evidence – holding hands, the odd cuddle to dispel the cold of the gusts, the picture taking. Of course. I once again prepared to endure the worsening elements – for the sake of art, you understand. I mean, why else?

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II |  ‘Round the Rugged Rock the Ragged Rascal Ran [LTFS]

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Getting here though, was a bit of pain the derriere – and I am surprised that anyone planning a wedding or reception would make the trek if they knew beforehand how the final part of their journey would pan out, should the weather turn sour. This is definitely a fair-weather destination if you wish to remain – unsavoury. Imagine if you will, donning your finest finery, having washed and polished the car (as such an occasion would suggest as appropriate) and turning out as pristinely as you possibly could before setting off. Your journey to within a mile or two of Corsewall may be largely uneventful, perhaps even wonderful, then the heavens open as you approach the back roads, past the farms, through as much cow-sh*t as it’s possible to spread across the hugely pitted and pot-holed tracks that wind around and down towards the tower. Imagine too, all of that muck sprayed up both sides of your previously pristine jalopy, as you pray that you won’s split a rim or two in any of the deeper craters who’s depth and severity are sinisterly hidden beneath copious quantities of shit and water. (You can tell I’m a little precious about my car now, can’t you?!) So – let the nightmare begin! How to arrive? Or, how not to! Perhaps save it for the sunshine?

Despite high winds and a decent amount of rain, I somehow managed to snag a number of shots both in IR and in LTFS (full-spectrum) when the light started to fade – that I am actually very happy with. Sorry about all the back story and though not every shoot I go on isn’t as romantic as they might appear to be, I hope too that you’ll enjoy these first few frames of (really) a beautiful and picturesque corner of South West Scotland. 

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III |  The Tower & Foghorn [LTFS]

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Thank you ever so much for reading and I do hope that you are keeping safe and well.

Until PT.II – toodle-pip!

R.

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HODDOM CASTLE – 720NM IR [PT.III/III] | 35CHRONICLE

autumn / fall, black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, rural, structures

Finale.

In closing up my posts from Hoddom Castle, I’d like to share my final three IR images from this beautiful 16th Century ruin. If you have been reading my recent posts, you’ll be aware that I will be gifting three shots to the local estate office which looks after it and, I am again looking for your input. It really is a pleasure to share these frames and I do hope I have done it at least a little justice. Please do leave your vote (one shot per post only, please) in the comments section if you have time. Thank you so much for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series and I look forward to putting my annual review together for posting just before Hogmanay – and a few other little nuggets in-between, I am certain.

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend.

R.

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VII |  “1891”.

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VIII | Desolate.

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IX | Shadows Before Light [III]

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HODDOM CASTLE – 720NM IR [PT.II/III] | 35CHRONICLE

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, rural, structures

LUXURY APARTMENTS FOR PIGEONS & CROWS?


In my last post, I shared the first few frames from a recent shoot at Hoddom Castle, my first successful IR jaunt here, ever. If you read the first in this series you may remember that I asked anyone who has time, to please let me know in the comments section of each post, their favourite one shot, so that I can put together a trilogy of frames which I am going to gift to the estate upon which Hoddom Castle stands. So, here are the second three frames from which I would like to hear your opinions and choice. Of course there will be one more post to come in due course so please do watch this space. I really am grateful for your input and you will save me a small headache for not having to choose, myself. 

Thank you so much for reading and please, any and all comments are welcome, below. 

R.

IV | The Silent Bell.

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V | Shadows Before Light [II]

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VI | Parapets.

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Hoddom Castle – 720nm IR [PT.I/III] | 35Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, rural, structures

IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.

A few years ago, I visited Hoddom Castle to photograph there under infrared conditions and, whilst I was disappointed and let down by the weather upon my arrival, I came away with some rather pleasing visible-light monochrome frames. It’s not always about alternative wavelengths for me and I do love just shooting with my normal equipment – but even saying that, I hear my honest brain asking me who the hell do I think I am kidding? After all, I don’t recall posting any of those older frames. Honestly, I still enjoy those frames, but after a recent visit back to the castle with a couple of hours to kill under a glorious sky, the word eclipsed, springs to mind now. I forgot how difficult it is to shoot around here though and the angles really made me think a lot harder. I hope though, that I have done this beautiful building some justice.

As an aside, over a year ago, I moved out of my little cottage in the country on the very estate where the castle stands, and on leaving, I was asked by the estate office if I would take a few IR shots around the castle and let them have two or three frames for their holiday site promotions. I offered to them that the kind of work I produce might not be suitable for their intended purposes in that, eerie black and whites of their prized, listed building might actually put people off, unless they are planning on starting up a ghost-hunting side-line? Nonetheless, their request was a perfect enough reason for me to go back and photograph it again, the way I have always wanted to see it.

Whilst I haven’t selected which frames I will gift out yet, I thought it may be more interesting to hear your views instead. So here’s the deal – I am planning three posts of the castle over the next week or so and anyone who has time to message me in the comments with their favourite (one only) shot from each post, will make my decision for me. Please do feel free to drop me a message and, of course any and all comments are very welcome. Thank you again for reading my pages and, have a great week, all. 

R.

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I | The Birds.

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II | Shadows Before Light.

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III | Pay Your Green Fees!

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