If I Take Just One Camera…
I | Devorgilla Bridge [Long Exposure]
II | Suspension Bridge Over the Nith.
III | The Caul & Devorgilla Bridge [Long Exposure]
Back in March 2019 I wrote a post about the (in my view, amazing) Ricoh GR entitled ‘You Can Call Me – Jack’ (post #121 from my archives page, if you’re interested) in which I wrote: “If the GR III is as good as it’s going to get, then I’m sorry Ricoh- you already got it bang-on with the first one – nuts, bolts, the lot. And I’m not moving. I mean, what would be the point?” Okay, so I have had the GR III for a few months now and whilst all the reviews are out there – I’m not about to write another one; not yet anyway. (I have a very early start tomorrow. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) What I will do now, though, is just post a couple of macro / close-up frames of another of my favourite things and, let the images do the talking. I love how the GR line just gets better and better. I hope you’ll enjoy this little smidgen of self-indulgence. I have never found a camera so good at macro as the GR series and the III gets even closer than the I/II. All frames were shot using my favoured 35mm internal-crop mode and I didn’t even need my Hoya +10 for these… blows my mind!
Have a great week, all!
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.
14th August 2020.
It all started with a half-hearted faff-around on the web, looking for some more interesting, old and abandoned places nearby worthy of a visit and, a photo-sesh. I’ve taken my cameras to so many wonderful old and [seemingly] forgotten places over the past many years that I might well at some point have thought that I may have ticked off a good many of them but still, I love to be proved wrong and, surprised. Last week, I got another such surprise when Bumble stumbled upon a short article about Carnsalloch House, near Kirkton. Passing me her ‘phone, she asked, “How about this old place? It’s not far, either!” I took a look and, feeling that familiar pang of excitement, a huge smile now lay wide across my face. Tomorrow, we would go. The BBC weather app was called to duty and, the day was consigned.
Not even two weeks prior, I had sent off a couple of A16 lens units for my trusty GXR outfit, to my good and clever friend, Amar. One was for a simple sensor clean and, the other for another LTFS [full-spectrum] conversion. Only a few days later they arrived back and, I was extremely keen to put them both through their paces again – dedicating one for LTFS [UV + VIS + IR] shooting and, the other for 720nm IR; this would save me swapping out mounted lens filters as the light changed. I know too that Amar is very keen to see results from his labours and, who can blame him? With that said, all of the frames I will be sharing over this series were shot on both units and, with nothing else. Anyhooz, back to Carnsalloch House…
The Old Stable Building:
When we arrived at first, we thought we’d found the house. Poking around outside and comparing the few shots we’d found on the ‘net had us befuddled and actually scratching our heads because the shots definitely didn’t correspond to the building we had arrived at. It was certainly a grand building but there were too many differences to ignore. This wasn’t the place. Still, it was worth a good look and so we carefully found an easy way inside. After a quick look around, it was clear to see from the original ceiling height, the sheer cubic footage of each room and the huge arched entry doors front and rear that we were actually inside the old stable building. The Austin Maestro ‘Tandy’ van (made between 1982 and 1995) that stood just as derelict as the building itself, looked no bigger than a child’s toy in here. Vandals have visited and, revisited over the years – fires have been set and spray cans have been emptied and this once, clearly magnificent building, now lies in complete ruin with no hope of rescue. After an hour or so, with the afternoon moving steadily on, we decided to look for the locally famous crypt. Quite how many know of it is unknown to me but there are very few images to discover online and, in true fashion, I decided that I wanted to change that. What I had seen of it had me feeling very edgy, and keen to push on and – find it. Looking around the old Johnston Estate, we followed what appeared to be a promising trail to where we believed it might have been an ideal place to build such a thing. Only a five minute walk from the old stable building, we came across the instantly recognisable Carnsalloch House.
The house has been empty since 2000 or thereabouts and since then, it too has been the target of arsonists and vandals. Built in 1759 (there is a stone depicting this on the outside wall of the north wing) Carnsalloch was once a palladian two-storey mansion house; an A-listed building (as of May 1959) that first belonged to Alexander Johnston[e] of Carnsalloch – a London chemist. Along its timeline, the house has had many extensions built (and destroyed by fire) and, for its latter years since 1960 it was run by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation (a UK health and welfare charity). It is reportedly the most haunted house in Scotland and has even raised questions and concerns about the sighting of ‘the ghost of’ a Great Dane – standing at a first floor window to the east of the pillared entrance. Believe what you will, but there are those who have wandered the area with dog treats in hand, hoping to find the pooch and, lure it to safety. I have no idea as to whether the canine (apparition or not) was ever located or indeed, seen again. Suffice to say, we met nor encountered no Grey Lady, or a seemingly semi-see-through Scooby-Doo! Largely, due to the extensive damage and vandalism, this once gorgeous building was not so much of a treat to walk around as we would have hoped. Entry on our part would have been extremely dangerous (and probably quite stupid, too) and so, we took a look only around the outer building itself. The weather too was closing in a tad and after just a few frames, we headed back to the car for a re-group. It was time again to re-consult the oracle. We just had to find the crypt.
The Johnston[e] Chapel & Crypt:
It was almost impossible to find any useful information about the Crypt. Nothing we could find could tell us where the heck it was situated but one search made us think that it could be in the vicinity of Kirkton Kirk itself. Time was still on our side (just) and so, we set off again. Barely a mile on, we stopped and looked around the church, looking for signs and familiar landscapes from images we’d found that would point us in the right direction. Nothing. We scratched our heads again and, while I was checking my batteries and cards, Bumble showed me her ‘phone again. I was now looking at a small map of Cemetery Wood. There was a red pointer marked only some fifty yards from the road out of Kirkton. We excitedly spun around again.
The light was fading as the clouds moved in and, seemingly there was nowhere to stop anywhere near the wood. Checking the road behind, between the bends as we approached the sharp left near the entrance to the wood itself, Bumble spied the small patch of ground just off the road and right around the bend and made straight for it. Parked. Now to find the crypt. Climbing over the gate, eyes peeled – no sign. Observing the light under densely foliaged and closely-neighboured trees I was beginning to worry that even if we found the crypt, I’d have little useful light under which to shoot it. Certainly IR was not going to be a choice. We walked towards a high mound and there, through the murk, was the corner outline of what was clearly a beautiful and ornate stone structure. We hurried forward and climbed the earthy slope. Stood right in front of us – was the crypt.
Out of interest, one of the shots I’d seen on the web (of the Johnston[e] Crypt) was in fact an IR shot, taken by someone on a converted Nikon pocket camera of some sort. A slight hint of jealousy that someone had stolen a little thunder from me, sure – but, whimsical and no more. I was determined to capture this place reflecting its mood and setting. LTFS turned out to be absolutely perfect for this part of the trip due to the light conditions and, it enabled me to capture wavelengths impossible to do so with any of my visible light set-ups, thus keeping my Tv higher and ISO lower than usual. The frames of the crypt may have you realising that I was back in hog-heaven and, you’d be right. I was beside myself. The chapel and crypt were built in around 1850 and, have also suffered multiple break-ins, vandalism, roof damage due to a fallen tree – gables and ornate roof stones scatter the ground around it and as resting place, it has been desecrated horrendously. Seeing it, taking it all in just for what it is now – renders a feeling of noticeable sadness. But to be able to capture it like this – I am almost speechless now. I am still stunned that we even found it. Rather, I didn’t! It’s okay though.
It was my intention to post a few images at a time and over a few posts – you know, break it up a little bit? I never like to over-indulge or test a reader’s resolve or patience. Ever. But for some reason, I just want to get these frames out there. A little bit of a back-story, perhaps but without the means to yet find out more about Carnsalloch – this is the best I can do right now. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed these frames. They have been extremely pleasurable to make and mean a little more to me than some of my other works. If you have stuck with me through all of this – wow; and… thank you!
In closing this one, I would like to thank Amar for yet again creating for me another wonderful piece of technology – my leading eye is very fortunate, my friend. I remain in black and white Nirvana! Thank you, my friend!
To the R&D and marketing peeps at Pentax Ricoh – thank you for making what Ricoh must have believed was a bit of a mistake at the time – poppycock! This thing rocks – still!
Of course, equally, to my bestie and lifetime sidekick, Bumble – who seems to have as much passion for what I do as I do. Now there’s a rarity and one worth looking after. Cheers darlin’!
It’s been a good long while since I took my IR converted X100 out for a spin – preferring usually, the utter versatility of my wonderful GXR A16 full-spectrum conversions instead. However, every now and then, when the conditions are just right, it’s wonderful to travel a little lighter still and restrict myself to just one focal-length; it avoids all the choice and confusion over which FL I’m going to shoot with and allows me to just – make pictures. Compose, frame – capture. If there is one thing I love about the X100 series, it is simply that. It just doesn’t get in the way. At all. So, after a jaunt to the Mull of Galloway and then up through Port Logan, travelling as (camera) light as I believe it is possible to do so, here are a couple of rather pleasing frames that, I do hope that you’ll enjoy too.
This post is written with huge thanks to my good friend, Amar Verma at vermatec – for, I have not only my original GXR A16 LTFS conversion back in the bag, its sensor beautifully clean of all the dust spots I’ve been hoovering up with it but also, my spare A16 which is now also converted to LTFS and ready for some more of the same alternative wavelength caperings. I plan soon to delve into some shorter frequency IR work again, possibly as high as around 900nm which I will shoot alongside my currently favoured 720nm. Here’s a frame from the newly converted lens unit at 720nm. (Sadly, thanks to an inconsiderately parked Citroen camper-van, the four arches (of the twenty in total) to right of the frame were certainly obscured enough that they couldn’t be included here; never mind – another visit shouldn’t be too far away!) I hope that you’ll enjoy this one, nonetheless. And to Amar – thank you again, my friend. This one is just perfect!
I’m really struggling to find time enough to sit and write, lately. You may or may not have noticed and perhaps, it’s a nice change for readers to not have to feel guilty for all the ‘scanning’ we have to do when we do our best to keep up with all of the posts we follow and digest, in a meaningful way. A way that does justice to the incredible quality of works that are so regularly posted. Well, today, I have to write. I’m sorry. But I am starting to feel that distancing of connection with what I love to do so much and that which often lends context, most acutely comes down to words. Sometimes a frame by itself cannot be its own justification. This one almost achieves that, for me – but only because I was there shooting it. Still, my sub-header pretty much covers it. What it doesn’t portray, however, are the little yet frequent internal struggles I am having to do something a little different with my cameras. Ideas that have been explored and exploited for as long as any of us can remember are thus, still a little new to me and, as confident as I am at many genres of photography, long exposures still make me scratch my head as to how best to go about it. In this case, as with the previous recent frames that I have posted, I am winging it. Timing as best I can to achieve good exposure and some decent movement within the frame where it can move the eye and the mind. But slow-moving clouds are still just that, even over the course of a minute with the shutter open and so, we come to the water to hopefully save the day. The water came through in fine style.
For years I have marvelled at the talents of photographers who have taken long-exposure photography to ever new heights and, whilst in no way could I hope to emulate some of the most incredible work that I have had the good fortune to view, I hope at the very least to be able to grasp the concept with the little knowledge that I do have and, put it to the test in making some frames of my own. Here, at the Loch-side, I was granted a gift, when eight year-old Flynn, on his first outing in a Kayak since he was four years old, drifted slowly into my frame. I made no attempt to ward him away (he was having so much fun, bless ‘im!) and, as I view the shot, I am bloody glad that I didn’t and, that he did. If only the shutter had remained open for another few seconds though? Nonetheless, happy accidents win the day and I have a frame to be delighted with.
Although I am all too aware that conditions on this day weren’t perfect for this kind of exploration, I intend to keep going and will take my camera with me whenever and wherever I can in the hope that I will discover for myself, what to look out for and how to play with it. In the meantime, the cleg bites on my shoulders are reducing nicely and I can smile at great memories. I hope you’ll enjoy this one and, that you’ll have a great week ahead.
The spring of last year was a tremendously difficult time for me and, for those closest to me I think it must have been even harder. After a crazy-serious accident at work that rendered me flat on my back for almost twelve weeks due to multiple spinal and rib fractures, I absolutely needed to get out with my cameras again. For almost nine months afterwards and in so many ways, my entire being was in recovery-mode and eventually, even on crutches, I was able to make short trips out for the specific purpose of bagging even a few more frames – of all the things that made me feel whole and normal again, this was it. Barmy, don’t you think? Not long before that, though (and I think that this was a presiding reason for my increasing restlessness) – I had the amazingly good fortune to visit some truly beautiful places and one one of them was here, at the utterly stunning ruin of Gelston Castle, just a few miles from Castle Douglas. (My first post on Gelston is here, if you’d like to check it out). Oddly, for me, a second summer on-the-bounce has seen me confined (like almost everyone else lately) to quarters. My shutter finger gets very itchy when I know that I don’t have the freedom to exercise it and so, you can possibly imagine my joy when, just yesterday, Bumble and I visited Gelston again. This time, I wanted to do things a little differently and so, rather than just walk around for a half hour bagging IR shots that I probably have already snagged, the Big-Stopper came out of the bag and for once, I stopped being a lazy-arse, and brought the tripod along – probably for the first time in a lot of years. Here then, is one of yesterday’s frames from Gelston Castle – from the rear entrance to the ruin (that I would never have been able to get last year anyway, due to the sun being on the opposite side of the building once we’d arrived) and, whilst I would love to post a couple more right here, sadly, I’m still catching up on edits; soon, though.
I do hope that you’ll enjoy this first frame, from what is for me a little bit of a different approach, though to many, not new at all, I am sure. Nonetheless, I hope it measures up.
For now – thank you as always for visiting and, if this is your caper, I hope you’ll watch this space.
Elevated yet still very tucked away here in the quiet village of Mouswald, stands this beautiful little parish church that dates back to 1816 – up for sale to anyone who’d want to make it… home. From here, there are beautiful views over the Solway and out to Criffel and, no troubling neighbours. But a lot of buried stories, I’m betting. I’ve had this place on my shoot-list for a lot of years and, thankfully – just a few weeks before lock-down, I finally made them. I have to wonder though – once it’s sold, will the resting still be left to rest? I hope so.
Idyllic; even on a moody day like this.
These frames were captured a few weeks ago amidst the current lock-down here in Scotland. Standing on the bridge over the Annan at Brydekirk on the most glorious of days, I couldn’t help ponder that statement, as I looked out to parallel rocks beneath slowly flowing shallow waters to one side and, a cloudless sky to the other. Yes, I think I had just invented the revolving deckchair right there and, if I could have – I’d have remained in it all day.
I hope that you too will enjoy the views.