Monumental | II.
[All frames: Fujifilm X100 – Internal 720nm Infrared Conversion / f8.0 – ISO:320]
[All frames: Fujifilm X100 – Internal 720nm Infrared Conversion / f8.0 – ISO:320]
As a serious, enthusiastic photographer, I ask myself again and again – just how many times am I prepared to return to the same place in order to get the photograph that I long to capture? The image that I know I can bag, if the conditions play the game nicely? The answer, every time, has to be – “until I get the shot”. So it is the case here, at Morton Castle. It seems not to matter what time of year I visit, nor, what the weather forecasters says it’s going to be doing the evening before; for, whenever I arrive here, the clouds always close in. Every, bleedin’, time. Anyone who has set out to capture a scene only to be thwarted by the conditions, knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s frustrating to say the least. Don’t you think?
On the other hand, I am a firm believer that with a little patience, I am (usually always) rewarded with images that I did not envisage capturing at all, making most if not all a very pleasant surprise and yet something else in life to be completely happy about. Friday past was the fourth time I have made the trip to Morton to capture the ruin and its surroundings in infrared, after assurances by the Met. Office of clear skies and sunshine overhead until around lunchtime. Turning up during mid-morning however, afforded no preferential treatment and, as usual – the clouds were waiting. Though I had hoped we’d drive right past them, ’twas not to be.
Every now and then, pockets of blue around the sun would appear and, shafts of undiffused light would reign in short bursts, occasionally wide enough to light up the ground sufficiently enough to facilitate my pulse racing a little in my eagerness to trip another frame before the light disappeared again. For around two hours, the light would continue to cheekily lead me up and down the proverbial garden path, and, back up again in its mockery of my efforts. But patience is everything and, despite still not getting anything close to the frames I had hoped to preserve yesterday – I decided that even when the light plays games, I will play my own.
The curse of Morton? A blessing in disguise, perhaps.
[All images: Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Conversion | 35mm Equiv. | f8.0 | ISO:400]
Friday’s are a fabulous day for scouting. We call it – the Long Friday. The littlest ‘un will finish school at 3 and will be collected by his after-school club, there to remain until around 5.30pm. It makes for one day in the week when we don’t have to get back too quickly during the afternoon and wherever we might end up, well, it gives us a little more time to explore. Such was the case last week when we made the journey to Hermitage Castle.
Just five miles from the English border, in Liddesdale, the castle ruins stand as a forbidding, high-walled monument amidst wide and oppressive moorland – it’s huge arch facing to the hills to the west. Just a couple of hundred yards behind it, lay the ruins of the chapel, alongside the peacefully babbling Hermitage Water. Having spent over an hour around the castle (naturally, I will be sharing a few frames from there, too) and, with the sun gracing the early afternoon for longer periods than we’ve enjoyed lately, I was very excited to capture the chapel ruins. A more peaceful spot than this have I yet had the sheer pleasure to enjoy (aside perhaps from the beautifully secluded Morton Castle).
There really isn’t much left here by way of a building as such. A burial enclosure languishes in the far east corner, grave stones and markers dot the ground on the far side too, and, three little windows look out to Hermitage Castle and to the hills beyond. We stayed a while, trying our best to decipher carvings on old stones, making a few IR frames and generally enjoying the peace and the sound of the water, while the sun warmed our backs on an otherwise chilly day. If there was a day where I could wish time to slow down, this one would have been the day. The chapel itself is thought to have pre-dated the castle itself by up to two hundred years (there is little information to either argue or corroborate this) and was believed to have been built during the mid 12th century. I’m surprised that there’s any part of it left at all. But, I’m extremely glad of it.
Not exactly landscape photography, nor structural either; just a few views from one beautiful place in time. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
This time last year I was preparing my first ever photo-review here at 35Chronicle and, at the time, I could never have professed to have known just what a year 2019 was going to be for me. In every sense of the word it’s been an amazing year, and – a traumatically difficult one for the large part. Suffice to say that if you are a regular reader of my pages, you’ll know a little of what I’ve been up to and, subjected to and – you might also realise that as well as those closest to me who have kept me going throughout the year since spring, my love of all things photographic have been my main non-pulsatile impetus to get back out there and, get better. Better in health, at life, at shooting – just, better; in any way I can.
Despite some difficulties in getting back out there (you try shooting whilst holding on to your crutches while your camera bag is threatening to slide forward under the weight of the gear – with the express intent of taking one of your legs from underneath you!) I have enjoyed many excursions this year. Insosaying, I have done my best to represent each month of 2019 (by date of publishing) with what I feel is the one shot that truly made the cut. My cut. I hope I have done enough.
Of course, the whole reason I am writing any of this is because, well – you are reading it. As such, I need to say a massive thank you to a huge amount of people who have been with me this year and without whom, my 2019 would have turned out rather different and probably not as good. Therefore, to loved ones, to friends, to everyone here on WP, and to everyone who has been of support to me throughout the year, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You all know who you are and I forget not one of you.
Please do enjoy this selection of just some of my favourite frames of this year and I hope you’ll join me again in 2020. It’ll be great to see you again. (To H – thank you and please forgive me for my shameless and blatant use of your sign-off. It fits perfectly, expresses my intent to a tee and I truly can’t think of or find a better way to say it. I promise to only use it this once!)
See you on the flip-side, folks!
– Rob –
Happy New Year 2020, to You All!
[All frames: Ricoh GR Internal IR Conversion w/35mm Internal Crop]
[All Images: Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Internal Conversion]
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.
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.
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!
I seem to have developed (no pun intended) a propensity for posting late at night, recently – probably because I am still taking regular daytime naps to get me out of pain and it’s better than woofing the narcs that I’m currently prescribed. So, I am more awake at night than I am for most of the day, just lately. It’s not an impossible cycle and I’ll shake it soon, I know. Truthfully, I am feeling great presently and am looking forward to getting truly back to life and furthermore, I am no longer having to endure most of the awful side-effects of the drugs, some of them rather embarrassing to say the least but, nonetheless, on grounds of utter propriety – unmentionable. A clue could be in the sub-heading, I guess. (If you read on with your tongue in your cheek – that’d be better than taking the rest too seriously. Stuff just – happens, you know?)
Back in February, I visited Morton Castle on a day which initially promised gorgeous blue skies inset with a clear and bright low winter sun – ideal for some IR shots of this utterly beautiful ruin. That was at around the time we had set orff! By the time we arrived, however, the clouds had moved in and the rain (known in Scotland as ‘smirry‘ – fine, light drizzle, really) began to descend and I ended up shooting the whole lot with my standard X100T. (See post I of III – here). There would be no infrared frippery on this particular day. No matter, but with that said, I wasn’t completely happy with the frames I came away with; compositionally I was very happy, but the ‘T’ buggers about with micro-contrast and smears finer details to the point where I just couldn’t live with it. A beautifully usable camera, fabulous lens but, it had to go. Either my software didn’t like its RAWs or, there was simply something about the ‘T’ that seemed to no longer agree with me. At all. Maybe I simply outgrew it, which may have been different if they’d kept the sensor from the very first X100. (Now that one was a peach!) I digress.
Within just over two months of those initial shots at Morton, I found myself incapacitated, hospitalised, and then convalescing flat on my back for the following two and a half months with around eight or nine fractures to my spine, ribs and foot, a little internal bleeding and more pain than I could have comprehended possible at that time. What else was I to do to cheer myself up – other than to buy a new camera? Apart from the obvious things, photography was right up there on the list of things I was missing the most. Probably joint second, I’d say. I knew I wouldn’t be able to shoot it right away but I could spend weeks familiarising and reading up on it’s features so that when the day came where I could get out and play with it, I’d be more than ready; and so, that’s what I did. I bought the camera I have spent the past five years or so drooling over and, buggered the expense sideways. After all, I might not have even existed anymore – I jest not when I say that it really was that close, at the time of the incident. Hang it all. The Df arrived within a couple of days and the ‘T’ was history. I felt no remorse or pain. Not even a twinge. Move on.
It’s not really G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) though – I guess that I have enough equipment to shoot pretty much any way I choose to. No, this was about something different entirely. I no longer wanted a camera that would mess about with the detail during shot processing, even in the RAWs – just a tool that would record what it sees and let me decide on output. Full-frame or not, I couldn’t care less (apart from the fact that this thing shoots clean even in the (photographically speaking) dark) – but I have been proved that I waited five years too long. What a plonker. But this isn’t a review (yawn!) – I only wish to post up my first frames from it, taken on a day that started out dismal, and pretty much remained that way, just last week. Low photographic expectations led me to something I didn’t expect – I love these frames, but not as much as being out there again. Despite the clouds, it was the finest of days. For life and, for loved ones.
I hope you’ll enjoy these.
This post is so gratefully dedicated to everyone who has been here for me in deed, word, or thought over the past couple of months – colleagues, friends, healthcare professionals, well-wishers and fellow bloggers and, most lovingly dedicated to my loved ones, whose patience, warmth and love know no conceivable bounds. Lucky isn’t the word.
To my Angie, to Corbs & to Flynn. X
Okee doke, a little explanation is required here because my absence has been a little more protracted than I would have liked, of late.
Two weekends ago, I was involved in a rather serious accident while at work and found myself admitted to hospital. Details aren’t important but I can say that I am very lucky to be alive. My injuries however, are serious enough that I am required to remain in bed and, after a week in hospital, I am now at home, in the same position, where I must stay for the foreseeable weeks ahead.
Before I had returned to work however, during a number of beautiful days-off, I made the most of the sunshine and, with A, visited a good number of places, made an even better number of frames and, consumed regularly – copious cups of Earl Grey tea, locally made cakes and the occasional ice-cream too. With all of this noted, all of the frames I will post over the next few weeks are from the vault; a recently replenished vault, and, I am glad of it because the chance of me getting out to make photographs within the next six weeks or so, is looking so slim as to render it invisible, at least from a side-on perspective.
Drumcoltran Tower is situated in SW Scotland between Beeswing (Bees-wing as opposed to Bee-Swing; though the latter image may be rather humorous, nonetheless) and Kirkgunzeon (pron: kur-gun-y’n) and is integrated now into a modern farm. It’s not very well signed and until you approach the junction that leads to it, it’s not signposted at all. But it’s so worth finding.
From the outside, it looks rather uncomplicated, not all that exciting, as other structures from its era might appear, and one would be fooled into thinking that a five-minute exploration would more than enough. I was fooled, because once we entered the tower, we didn’t leave for another ninety minutes or so. Over the next four or five posts, I hope to show just why this externally (comparatively) nondescript treasure of Scotland, captured my imagination.
It’s good to be back and, I do hope that you’ll enjoy these first few frames of and, from this early 16th century beauty.
To say that I love shooting with an IR-converted GR is an understatement. As Drumlanrig has been its initial proving-ground, I know all too well that I will have to return when spring has worked its magic, and the leaves have returned to complete the effect. More than likely, I will also be looking to compare outputs between this wonderful conversion and, my converted X100 – I know already it’ll be a very close call. Furthermore, as the gardens to the house will soon be open again to the public (on my recent visit, the groundsmen were working furiously to prepare them) I feel extremely excited to know that I will have much more time here, to explore again – and yes, shoot to my heart’s content, should conditions be fair. Hopefully, photographically speaking- I will be able to do this place much more justice. I’m not there yet, but my shutter-finger is twitching already at the prospect; and my impatience is becoming increasingly apparent. Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy these two frames as much as I have.