Corbelly Hill Convent, Dumfries: PT.I | 720nm Infrared | 35Chronicle Photography

black & white, fine art, full-spectrum, history, infrared, photography, ruins, structures, trees, urban

All Roads Lead to… Roam?!?


Content Warning: This post contains elements of sarcasm, arrogance and common-sense, which some readers may find either offensive, or rib-tickling – depending on your sense of humour!

I may or may not be about to start on a little ‘Rob-rant’; in fact – perhaps I’ll just roll my eyes at this point and take a deep breath instead. Yes, that may be a better thing to do. You see, the one question I get asked a lot when I am out shooting old buildings, ruins, lighthouses, you name ’em – is, “Can I help you?” You may have read my thoughts about this question during one of my posts where I published a few frames of the beautiful lighthouse at Corsewall [PT.I – here] back in December, last year. It grates me every time – and it shouldn’t. 

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I have been meaning to come here to the old convent at Corbelly Hill for around six months. Waiting for a clear day with good sunlight and plenty of time has been the only reason it has taken me so long to get up here, to what is the highest building in Dumfries. Known as St. Benedict’s, and also – Corbelly Hall Convent, it was commissioned in 1881 for the Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration and, was completed in 1884. In its time, it has also been used as a girls’ school, a makeshift Sheriff Court and even a museum. It has lain empty and semi-derelict for a good many years now, though. In 2003, it was used in the filming of Peter Mullan’s film “The Magdalene Sisters” – set in 1964 onwards, about the cruel abuse of women at a convent in Ireland. Though I would dearly have loved to have spent some time shooting inside the buildings, as some have before me – it was not to be. 

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One utterly fabulous thing about Scotland is the right to roam and so, seeing no signage indicating otherwise either, Bumble and I took the walk up the hill from Maxwell Street, enjoying the clearest of views over the town on the way up and, we had a little scout around the outside of this beautiful building with a view to setting up for some fitting frames. The light was just about perfect by midday and it almost took my breath away with the sheer size of this place. As we walked around towards the main entrance, we noticed two police vans, a builder’s van and, a couple of cars. Old vinyl 45s from the 70s were strewn curiously and chaotically across the lawns. A broken window to the left of the main entrance door. Not a person in sight though. We picked up a few of the vinyls and read their labels – each one a 70s chart-hit and not a true dud among them if I’m honest. As we wandered the grounds, I began to capture a few shots. That’s when a short and stocky, builder-chappy – surly of face and postured with intent, walked towards us with his faithful right-hand man… to his left. “Can I help you?” he asked. I smiled gently, trying to not smile my facetious smile at the one question that presents to me every time as a red rag to a proverbial bull. “I’m not sure.” I politely replied. “How much do you know about infrared photography?” This precipitated a stunned silence and a quizzical expression in the gentleman who, once he had remembered why he had asked the question in the first place, told us that there had been a break-in that morning and he was concerned as, he had just acquired the building for himself. “Fair enough, but as you can see – you’re unlikely to get any trouble from us. Would it be okay if we carry on around and get a few more frames before the gates go in?” We were graciously (okay, a little facetious there, I know!) granted the freedom to roam once more; our attire possibly an obvious indication that we were not at all dressed for a raid on this day and were safe to be let loose. Yet, every which way we turned from that moment on, we were followed at a distance of no more than ten paces by the builder-chappy and three others of his crew; every word Bumble and I shared from that moment on, was not private. We contained ourselves to the awe of this place and reigned in our feelings about what had just happened. 

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For around four or five days after I made these frames I was confined to being back at work and so, I literally have only just got around to edits today and, having finished working on this series, I really do have the pleasure of sharing a number of shots with you, which, I sincerely do hope you will enjoy. One more day and I’ll be back in the jug again… so who knows, I may get a few more up tomorrow, too? 

Thank you again for reading and I do hope that you’re getting set for a wonderful weekend. 

R.

This post is thoughtfully dedicated to all owners of derelict land and property who needlessly fear the evil intentions of the middle-classes who walk hand in hand, wielding small cameras.

Fear not – we’re only making pictures!

[All frames: Ricoh GXR LTFS Full-Spectrum Conversion & Hoya R72 720nm IR Filter]

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If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © Rob Lowe | 35Chronicle Photography  (2018-2021) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. All images are resized prior to posting.

When Elements Align | PT.II | 35Chronicle Photography

photography, infrared, black & white, waterscape, spring, skies, structures, urban

River Nith – Recomposed | 720nm Infrared.


A parting gift from the Nith, glorified under beautiful IR light; the first three frames from which were shared in my previous post. Playing the angles a little has helped me to see that frame ‘VI’ is for me anyway, rather better composed than frame ‘II’ in PT.I – the lesson has to be: always take a series and never trust the first take! Nonetheless, I do hope that you will also enjoy these captures and, to those who’ve clicked, commented and reposted my last entry – I am more grateful than you can know. As I have always believed, writing or sharing anything here is absolutely worthless without each of you who read and get involved. So, thank you!

From a sunny South West Scotland – wishing you all a very happy Tuesday!

R.

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IV: Devorgilla Bridge Across the Nith | 720nm Infrared.

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V: Buccleuch Street Bridge from Devorgilla Bridge | 720nm Infrared.

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VI: Hunters Gathering [II] | 720nm Infrared.

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[All frames: Ricoh GXR LTFS Full-Spectrum Conversion & Hoya R72 720nm IR Filter]

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If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © Rob Lowe | 35Chronicle Photography  (2018-2021) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. All images are resized prior to posting.

When Elements Align | PT.I | 35Chronicle

black & white, fine art, infrared, nature, photography, skies, structures, urban, waterscape

River Nith | Back in the ‘Red’.


For the last few years, I have been up and down this stretch of the River Nith more times than I can remember, shooting visible-light monochrome, long-exposure night shots and plenty of infrared frames too – all in the hope of capturing that ‘perfect’ series of frames – shots I’d be so proud to print and hang on the wall; but without labouring the point, I have always felt that I have struggled here. The reasons I keep coming back and having yet another go are purely the attraction and, the challenge. It really is an eye-catching place. With regard to IR capturing however, I don’t think that I have ever come back with the shots that I had always itched for. Despite its obvious charms, it’s really not the easiest place to photograph and requires a lot of care where composition is concerned and though I have been enjoying this caper for well over twenty years, I accept that it’s no great surprise to me that it’s taken me until now to feel satisfied with my efforts.

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I. Along the Caul | River Nith, Dumfries | 720nm Infrared.

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Having a ‘thing’ for beautiful bridges and picturesque skies as I clearly do, makes some decisions on angles and perspective a little bit more intuitive when it comes to where I want the structures to be viewed within their frames but there’s a whole lot more going on around them, which, often has me scratching my head. Learning to ‘see’ within a frame and compose is largely down to preference, but there are certain rules which I do try my best to adhere to – such as subject, light and contrast, texture (and contrasting textures too), proportions, foreground, background, overall feel – and also, my own space and place within it all. On this day, the light was just about perfect and I was inspired to have another go.

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II. Hunters Gathering | River Nith, Dumfries | 720nm Infrared.

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As more and more people are now out and about in their cars, on foot or bikes after the last year of repeated and prolonged C-19 lockdowns, it was fabulous to get out here and see some more life about the place. As the sun beat down, we leisurely walked over the Devorgilla Bridge to the other side of the river and felt like living was starting to happen again which for me is certainly yet another reason to feel inspired. As we crossed the bridge, an opera-fan with very capable speakers punched out a little culture in Gm from  an upper storey window, an unusual backing track to the sound of the streets below and yet, I couldn’t help smiling because of it.

The elements had aligned and, I do hope you’ll enjoy these first few little outcomes.

R.

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III. Buccleuch Street Bridge, Dumfries | 720nm Infrared.

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[All frames: Ricoh GXR LTFS Full-Spectrum Conversion & Hoya R72 720nm IR Filter]

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If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © Rob Lowe | 35Chronicle Photography  (2018-2021) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. All images are resized prior to posting.

Farewell: Shaking Hands with a National Icon | 35Chronicle

black & white, fine art, infrared, nature, personal, photography, rural, waterscape

A Royal Connection.


This post started out as one of my more usual publications, yet –  barely a half of a paragraph in, I received a notification from Medscape on my phone. The sadness I immediately felt, changed this post completely. Forgive me please, for this little bit of reminiscence:

During the recent Easter weekend, we took a drive out to Castle Loch for the five kilometre walk around its enticing perimeter. This beautiful Loch is situated on the very outskirts of the Royal Burgh of Lochmaben, just a couple of miles from Lockerbie. I mention this because today, the media has announced the sad passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip – the Queen’s husband. He was 99.

In the summer of 1984, I was about to start my fourth year at High School. I had at that time held down a weekday paper-round, an all-day Saturday job at a local butchers, a Sunday milk-round which started at around 4 a.m and, I was also a sea cadet. The latter – took up two evenings a week and usually, two to three weeks of my school summer holidays for around five years. So why do I mention all of this? It’s very simple really.

One of my fondest childhood memories dates back to the summer of ’84. As a cadet, I had saved up my part-time earnings for a ten-day training course, sailing the south-west coast of England during which time we would be part of the Royal Review at Portland, Dorset. After around six days mostly at sea, we had pulled in to Portland Bill to refit and refurbish for the review which would take place on the following morning. Decks were scrubbed, lines were stowed and arranged, battens were polished and gunnels painted. Boots were spit and polished and uniforms were cleaned and ironed to the point at which one could have shaved with the creases using our toe-caps as shaving mirrors. But I was just 14. Alas. Nonetheless, nothing was left unchecked – on our vessel at least!

On the morning of the review, Prince Philip boarded every vessel rafted up at Portland Harbour, accompanied by his entourage of course and eventually – he boarded ours. As we stood to attention, twelve of us is our best No.2 uniforms, he shook hands and spoke with each of us in turn. I was, I think, about half-way down the line. Then he stood in front of me. He offered his hand and asked me as I shook it what I hoped to be when I left school and so, I told him, “I want to join the Royal Navy and work in communications, Your Royal Highness!” (We had all been prepped for speaking to royalty beforehand, you’ll understand!)

“Really?!” he had replied. “I have absolutely no idea what that is!”

It may sound ridiculous that such a moment in time, as short as it was – should be either so memorable or, so relevant. But our lives are made of the moments we remember and measured moreso by those that we would never want to be without. This memory is one of mine and, I am fortunate to have it. His obvious quick and effortless whit was a huge part of his warmth and his charm, I suppose. He could get away with saying anything and heaven only knows what he had said when he boarded the vessel rafted next to us; an all-female crew who had apparently, embarrassingly… rushed their preparations for the Duke’s visit which then became front page news in one of the tabloids on the following day. A picture of Prince Philip holding aloft a pair of ladies underwear which he had seen on one of the vessel’s bunks. His expression, as I recall – was priceless. But his words would have had many people rolling around the lower deck! I wish I had been there to hear what he’d said to that! If you search online for Prince Philips verbal gaffs and witty retorts – you’ll easily find enough to compile a hardback! He once described himself as “the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler”.

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Though I have never been what you could call a staunch follower of the Royal Family – I have always appreciated their place in our history, in our future and in our national identity and, I am so proud to have, as so many have before and after me – even shaken his hand. And I feel a tangible, palpable sense of personal loss at his passing.

Today then, is a very sad day. I can only extend my own personal condolences to our Royal Family for their hugely sad loss of Prince Philip. A charming and kind, warm and witty National Icon – who will be very sadly missed, yet happily, joyfully – remembered.

He shook my hand.

R.

[9th April 2021].


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I | Castle Loch from the Sailing Club | 720nm Infrared.

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II | Castle Loch  Reflections | 720nm Infrared.

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If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © 35:Chronicle (2018-2021) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. All images are resized prior to posting.

In Long Forgotten Corners… | 720nm IR – PT.II | 35Chronicle

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

…Yet Standing, Still.


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IV | A Little Perspective | Parton Viaduct | 720nm IR

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V | From the Bank of Loch Ken | 720nm IR [… kind of!]

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VI | A Last Look Back | 720nm IR [… with a little help!]

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[All frames: Ricoh GXR LTFS Full-Spectrum Conversion & Hoya R72 720nm IR Filter]

Link: Video taken in 1965, just before closure, in June of that year – opens in new window.

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If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © 35:Chronicle (2018-2021) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. All images are resized prior to posting.