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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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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Restricted: Dryburgh Abbey | 720nm Infrared | 35Chronicle

35mm, autumn / fall, black & white, history, infrared, landscape, ruins, rural, skies, structures, trees

On Certainty &… Unwavering Gratitude.


To my mind, there is only one thing better than having a solid seven days off work and that is, waking up on the first morning after a busy run of shifts and knowing that you have seven days off until the roundabout starts spinning again. This morning, I woke almost immediately at the sound of Bumble’s 7:00 alarm, (almost two hours after my usual start) and felt nothing but bliss at the realisation that I had nothing specifically to get up for and, nowhere that I needed to be. It makes it easier to rise – to accept getting out of bed as a part of the day; especially for one who enjoys his sleep as much as I do. When I can get it. Shit! I make myself sound so lazy – I’m really not! At around half-past, Flynn called from outside the bedroom door, “knock, knock!” (because his hands were full) and as I greeted him back, he carefully tip-toed in with a mug of coffee, gently placing it next to me on my nightstand; he barely spilled a drop! From his left hand he then revealed a piece of kitchen-towel, wiped up a few drops with a smile and then we agreed, we wouldn’t tell mum! Such foresight for one so young! As he left the room, I caught up on the news of the day as I supped, smiling. Another bliss. Across the landing, I heard Flynn cheerily getting ready for school.

Though the news, the world over, is pretty much the same – and not often something to smile about of late, I am happy today because I am grateful. For the life that I live now after such an awful event last year is one of positive recovery, much improved health, work, purpose, enjoyment, reason, acceptance – and most of all, my family. That closest of circles full of love in all directions and understanding without shadows. Feelings like these are essential for me on days like this – when I have nothing specific to which I must attend, yet, in the knowledge that if I were to achieve nothing by the end of the day, would leave me feeling much disappointment in time wasted. The older I become, the more I loath wasted time. And so I write. Forgive me if you can’t see the link yet.

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I |  The Ruins of Dryburgh [I] – 720nm IR – 35mm

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As I read the news (and before I continue, I would like you to know that I do not wish to blabber on about the latest ‘C’ word – even though apathy is spreading, an apathy to which I absolutely cannot subscribe or agree with, the news of it is becoming as tedious as Brexit had) – I felt more grateful still. We are all well, until the day that we are not and days of wellness should be seized and – enjoyed. So many are suffering as a result of this modern problem, made worse by the lack of understanding that sometimes, only old methods have the real and lasting solution. Whether we liked it or not, we all grew up hearing those words – “do as you’re told!”. It was for our own good. And look, we’re still here, more than likely because on occasion, we actually listened. Many are not hearing, not listening and this is doubtlessly exacerbating the problems which we are facing now – like a horrendous, ugly pyramid-scheme, hurtling towards the ground at freefall speed before we realise it. But many are listening and, actually doing something about it and soon, I hope – we will start to see our lives and our potentials open up and bloom again. I say this because a recent visit to Scott’s View (see post #240) was terminated by a visit to the beautiful, richly historical Dryburgh Abbey, near Melrose in the Scottish Borders – the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott, in 1832.

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II |  Scott’s View – 35mm w/Lens-Ball – 720nm IR.

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Dryburgh Abbey was founded in 1150 (10th November to be more precise) and, is the Daughter House of Alnwick Abbey in Northumberland. In 1322 it was burned down by English troops and, after restoration it was burned again by the armies of Richard II in 1385. During the fifteenth century though, it is known to have flourished – until that is, the coming of 1544 when it was destroyed completely. What remains of the building, as of the grounds too, are considered to be a Scheduled Monument (of national, or historical importance) and, happens to be one of the most beautiful sites I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The weather helped of course. But, Bumble and I were still hampered.

For almost a year, we had Dryburgh on our list of ‘must visits’ and, indeed when we had visited Jedburgh and Melrose last November (on a most miserable of days, climate-wise), we simply ran out of daylight and had to re-schedule – date as yet unplanned. After an hour or so looking out over Scott’s View though, we were so close to the abbey that to not stop by would have been (from an infrared photographer’s point of view anyway) a cardinal sin. (No pun intended though in retrospect, apt!) As we drove down the hill from the ‘View’ – Bumble checked the oracle and we were happy to know that we had about an hour before the gates would be closed. What an end to a fabulous daytrip this would turn out to be! We even bypassed the statue of William Wallace so that we’d have time to see it. After a few more minutes though, we arrived to park the car behind the entrance to the abbey –  the sign read,

“Closed to Visitors”.

Bollocks!

We stood a moment in disappointment, bewilderment, joint frustration and even disbelief as the sun shone through the trees, squirrels seemingly taunting us from the other side of the wall within the vast acreage of their rich and autumn-tinged playground. We even called the site office to enquire as to why coronavirus had any impact on opening times to such a vast outdoor space – as if they would see sense, come down and re-open the gates just for us. But honestly, as so many organisations seem to use this current predicament as an excuse to fold up early without letting anyone know, it’s a frustrating experience to say the least. Even the local Post Office has seen fit to close its counters two and a half hours early, as if herding the same amount of customers per day to their two windows in a shorter space of time would have a positive impact on the spread of C-19? Any excuse to knock-off early and balls to an explanation? Okay, so my frustrations clear, fuzzy thinking acknowledged – how to get a few frames of this gorgeous ruin?!

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III | The Ruins of Dryburgh [II] – 720nm IR – 35mm

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Being made of more ‘abiding citizen’ than ‘ah, what the hell?!’ – we decided not to test Scotland’s ‘no-tresspass’ law, especially given the residing occupants of the lodge cottage at the gates directly to our left. Instead, we drove around to the hotel around the other side of the ruin, the sign for which, in my former excitement and anticipation I had completely ignored in passing and yet, Bumble hadn’t. We parked up outside the front of the hotel and I quickly retrieved a couple of cameras from Molly’s back-seat. (Yes, my car has a name :0) Looking around we were waiting for a bow-tied, waist-coated employee to perhaps tick us off for not at first coming in for so much as an afternoon tea, however, no such interaction ensued and we were glad of it. Time was running out and the light was threatening to fade on us. Over a high wall separating the hotel from the abbey’s grounds, we could instantly see that, as luck would have it, we were far better off where we were. The view over top is just incredible. As I prepped my cameras for a few shots, the sun again burst through the clouds as if on cue and I raised my hands above the wall, now so high over my head that I was unable to use the viewfinder – the screen would do just fine now. Though I wasn’t able to shoot any other angles than these (or slight variations of very similar) as I walked the length of that wall, I can honestly say that I remain extremely grateful. Yes, a return visit is necessary – but we’ll phone the office first, I think. Just to make certain!

Thank you for reading and I hope, as always, that you’ll have enjoyed these few frames.

R.

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An Alternative ‘Scott’s View’ – Melrose | 35Chronicle

35mm, 50mm, autumn / fall, black & white, history, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, rural, trees

The Site of Trimontium: A Trilogy.


A single day’s journey into the Scottish Borders last week had us purposefully perusing local maps for all of the sights we’d hoped to visit – while the threatening weather remained (mostly) on our side. One of the day’s most anticipated sites was here, at the renowned and history-steeped Scott’s View – Sir Walter Scott’s favourite view out to the triple-peaked Eildon Hills. At over 420m in height they look out to Teviotdale to the south and the northernmost peak has been discovered to be covered in over 5km of ramparts which enclose an area of around 40 acres within which at least 300 level platforms have been formed within the rock itself in order to have provided bases for houses. It is believed that the site was occupied as far back as 1000BC. During the 1st Century CE (common era) – the Romans had erected the huge fort of Trimontium of Newstead (named after the three peaks) at the foot of the hill on the bank of the River Tweed. As sights go – they don’t get a lot better than this on such a glorious day.

The hollow (as legends would have it) hills are actually marilyns and are steeped in folklore, as well as history, as the words of ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ would attest. Formed by the upward push of an underground volcano around 300m years ago, they were cleft in three by the magician Michael Scot as written by Walter Scott in his poem ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’, in 1805. With all this said, however, words alone cannot describe the feeling when standing at this spot and looking out at all of… this.

As most captures from up here would depict a very similar view with my standard set-ups, I decided to do things a little differently. The lens-ball treatment was a huge amount of fun and, I could never have left this scene without having grabbed an IR frame or two as well. (If you have been reading my pages for a while now, you’ll know this already, I guess).  Thank you so much for reading and have a great weekend, all!

R.

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[Equip: X100-IR & X100s w/50mm TCL]

I | Through the Ball – 50mm.

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II | 720nm Infrared – 35mm.

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III | The Magic of a Fair Maiden’s Hand.

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Dundrennan Abbey | 720nm IR – PT.III | 35Chronicle

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

I Really, Really Can’t Help It!

Way back in April of last year, I wrote what was to be my first post on Dundrennan Abbey. It was certainly not the first time I have shot here for, I have been revisiting this beautiful ruin for almost twenty years. It has a draw that very few other places can illicit quite in the way that it does and, seeing as how I keep my cameras with me whenever I’m on any kind of road-trip, well – it stands to reason that if ever I am near the place and I have time to stop, I invariably do. I don’t always get lucky with the light but seeing as how I have shot here over a dozen times or so, I have a very pleasing stash of visible light and infrared captures. Each time, I try to see different angles of the abbey, capture something different and – this can be quite a challenge because revisiting somewhere, anywhere, multiple times in order to shoot can lead to a bit of muscle-memory taking over, trying to catch again those favourite angles only – better, this time. I sometimes have to try very hard to stop myself from doing this. Nonetheless, I also believe in shooting every angle possible while on location and, edit hard when I get to the upload at home. This little shoot was a tad different though. I have started to be more selective when it comes to the work of my shutter-finger. If I don’t ‘see’ it, I don’t shoot it anymore. If I see the frame and it’s not working for me, no matter what the balance between positive and negative elements, the camera will mostly stay in my bag nowadays. With that said, these frames came pretty naturally and while I did repeat a few past shots, these are (to my mind) a little more mature and pleasing. On this occasion, well over a year since my last visit, the grounds are now extremely overgrown; the result of a pandemic which as yet displays no signs of abating to the point of disappearing and so, much is left to wither. The lack of maintenance here at Dundrennan, however, only amplifies its historical and physical authenticity from a visual perspective – and despite the hard work put in under normal circumstances to maintain these grounds and this stunning structure, I rather prefer the look it has now that nobody has touched it since our own lockdown commenced.

On a much different note: I notice now that my followers have surpassed 300 here on 35Chronicle Photography and I cannot let this go without saying a massive thank you to each and every one of you who follow my pages, and also, to the many of you who don’t follow yet return to read and peruse my words and images. I started this blog back in early 2018 and when there is so much competition (for want of a better word) for people’s time and consideration, I do feel that with this amount of followers and over 22,000 views to date – I have a lot to be very grateful for. To all of you, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You All!

Just lately I have been extremely busy with prints so it has taken me a little longer to getting round to posting, this week. I do hope though, that you will enjoy the following few frames as much as I do. Thank you so much for reading.

R.

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[All frames captured with Ricoh GXR A16 LTFS Conversion w/Hoya R72]

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Apollo 11: For Michael Collins [and Neil & Buzz] | 35:Chronicle

history, people, photography, skies

Snoopy [& Other Underdogs].


Oddly, though I had this post planned for a week or more, after an impromptu visit to McD’s today – I found the perfect way to commemorate all underdogs everywhere, as well as this marvellous anniversary. Celebrating a young boy’s birthday I found one of my childhood heroes staring back at me from, of all places, the inside of a Happy Meal. Not one child at the table could tell me who he was or the name of his scruffy little companion – but Peanuts-styled memories came flooding back. I bought two more to make the set – of three wind-up, moon-walking NASA Snoopys; repleat with Pumpkin Suits and backpacks. My smile was huge.

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Three of a Perfect Pair.

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Snoopy Woz ‘Ere?

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Tomorrow, on 16th July 2019 – it will have been fifty years to the day since the Apollo 11 mission was launched, which would land the first man on the moon, on 20th July 1969. That was the year during which I was born, too, almost four months later. In the grounds of Drumlanrig House, (near the Scottish town of Thornhill) – not far from me, where Neil Armstrong once stayed is a forty-seven year old Red Oak, planted in the March of ’72 by the man himself.

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The Growth of History.

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It’s an incredible part of human history but like many (I am supposing, here) it’s always been my opinion that Michael Collins didn’t get enough love or glory for his unforgettable contribution to those future-shaping events of 1969. Waiting in the moon’s orbit for Buzz and Apollo 11’s commander, Neil Armstrong to complete their short mission on the surface must have felt sickening and lonely; standing at the open doors to the greatest show on earth, looking in, hearing the fun that everyone else is having but, having to wait outside and endure it. Plenty of documentaries and publications can give us a huge amount of information about almost any detail of that mission, but how much did Michael Collins not tell about how he felt during those eight days? I have to wonder. Though an integral part of that incredible mission, hardly anyone I have asked can name all three crew-members; and Michael’s is the name most forgotten. I’m not here to set any record straight, but I’m sending out my own equal recognition for him as well. Like Neil & Buzz, I’m pretty sure he’s earned it.

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Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin [Left to Right]

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