Hog Heaven | PT.II
[Images: Ricoh GR 720nm IR Conversion – w/35mm Internal Crop.]
[Images: Ricoh GR 720nm IR Conversion – w/35mm Internal Crop.]
These two frames have been a long time (for me, anyway) on my shortlist for posting, since my initial publication of my first infrared captures of this beautiful ruin, back in May. They were captured in the middle of April just nine days before I became incapacitated (for a while at least) and for me – they still have great significance and certainly more than would ever allow me to forget the past and simply move on without acknowledgement of it.
Life was good. And it is, still.
[Postscript: Sadly, I have learned of late that this gorgeous ruin has been subjected to no small levels of recent vandalism and, I feel even more fortunate to have captured when I did. I have not yet returned to it but when (and if) I do, I know already just how upset I will feel. So, I do hope you’ll enjoy these frames as I am almost certain that no-one is going to put their hands in their pockets for the clean-up. A sobering likelihood of all our todays.]
[Images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
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.
It’s not what you’d expect and it certainly was not what I expected it to be either; I didn’t do any research, favouring surprise over fore-knowledge of a place that is often mentioned but not yet visited. Much like a literary classic, I suppose, that sits on the shelf for years and soon becomes ignored until the day when it simply falls into your hand. Well, it was that close and quite simply could not be ignored.
The Falkirk Wheel is a monumental piece of engineering – a rotating boat lift that since 2002 has reconnected the Forth & Clyde Canal (below) and the Union Canal (above), the first time since the 1930s. The site itself is one of the most staggering pleasures to the eyes but I have to say, that turning the whole place into a theme-park doesn’t lend well to the sheer awe of it all. Certainly, it will draw huge income and just as likely, it makes life a little tricky for any photo-enthusiast (ie: moi!) to make images of the prime attraction – the wheel itself. Nonetheless, without wishing to sound like an affiliate to the Scottish Tourist Board (or an anti-affiliate at that) for anyone who is interested in the waterways of Scotland, or anywhere for that matter, or engineering – this thing is a must see.
It works on the principle of Archimedes theory of displacement (that a body immersed in water displaces its own weight in water) thus, each of the two gondolas contains 250 tonnes (250,000 litres) of water without a boat within, or the same weight when containing a vessel. This means that enough electricity to boil a few kettles is required to get the wheel turning before the balance of the two gondolas (180 degrees from each other) keep the wheel turning in perfect balance with each other. It’s all extremely simply yet, ridiculously clever.
Here, I have done my best to capture some of the essence of the Wheel whilst sticking to the idea of conscious exclusion, (in other words, without the pedalos, ice-cream stalls, crowds and, bouncy castles, for instance). I do hope you’ll enjoy this first instalment.
[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
By the end of July I was already starting to get back on my feet, so, after almost three months of restrictions, it was time for us to plan a road-trip and – do something a little bit different. I dumped the crutches in the boot of the car (just in case) and, we headed to Grangemouth, home of the Kelpies, for a few days r’n’r.
Though we’d read before about these incredible structures, nothing could have actually prepared us for the sight that awaited us as we approached them on the motorway. Our hotel destination was only a mile or so away from The Helix where these two stunning 300-tonne, 30m high, steel-panelled structures are situated, so we couldn’t have been better placed. Within an hour of checking in, I’d already loaded up the cameras I’d be using to photograph them and, we were setting off on foot already towards the canal and – towards our first close-up look at the Kelpies; the name itself deriving from the Scottish word for shape-shifting water spirits which inhabit Scotland’s lochs and pools.
Designed and built by Andy Scott in 2013, the Kelpies have been given huge acclaim and attract millions of visitors every year. Its not hard to see why. Standing upon a specially constructed lock and basin, they dominate the skyline in a way so rarely seen, anywhere. For this reason alone, I was determined to capture them in infrared right from the off but in fact, the first and third frame I shall post here, were shot on day two when the clouds had finally lifted to let the sun in. Frame two was shot on day one under less than ideal IR conditions but, has to be included to give some frame of reference as to their domineering and imposing presence. They truly are a sight to see and, I do hope you’ll enjoy these first few frames.
On a side note, I would like to thank, so much, all of you who follow or regularly read my pages and my works for bearing with me. It’s been a really difficult year since April but I am very glad to say that not only am I recovering extremely well, but I have been so busy enjoying the fruits of life again that I have found ridiculously little time to sit, process, write or do much else for that matter. I really have been making up for lost time, which is another way of saying – my catalogue of shots has been increasing lately!
It’s bally good to be back, so, for reading me again – thank you!
[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]
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!
Back in early April this year, we visited Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill. You may remember, if you’re a regular reader, that at the time, I was shooting with my then newly internally converted 720nm IR GR [PT.III of original series]- and, what I really wanted to capture were the beautiful gardens here. Sadly, April is a little early and the groundsmen were still working their fingers to the bone in preparing these fabulous grounds for the public and, some shots of the castle itself were the best that I could steal. Once they were open however, we went back – and, what a glorious day it was to wander around and to play with light again.
Don’t be misled by a gentle introduction – this place is stunning in any light and, I hope to do Drumlanrig’s gardens justice over coming posts. I only hope you’ll enjoy them.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable on my feet, (with hospital supplied crutches, naturally) – and so, I felt that it was a good time to get across the road and take a little stroll along the river path. My fitness is undoubtedly less since the end of April and I am determined to lessen the damage as much as I can. Not only this, but I have been utterly itching to get out with my cameras again. This day seemed to me a perfect opportunity to kill two proverbial birds with a single stone. With Angie at my side (mainly because she doesn’t trust me walking alone yet – probably a very wise thing) we gently walked for a while, taking in the beautiful afternoon sunshine across the Nith and, regular stops for shots meant that I wasn’t pushing things too hard.
To keep my bag light, these frames were all shot on my internally IR converted GR (with internal 35mm crop). In all honesty it’s still my go-to for impromptu jaunts. No matter – I hope you’ll enjoy these few frames as I have. I guess that for me, they’re way more significant. I can once again enjoy what I love.
I hope that you will too.
It’s been over seven weeks since the accident that put me flat on my back and, I’ll be brutally honest – it’s starting to hurt more. I’m not talking about the pains from the injuries though, you understand. Those, I can deal with. But the pain I am starting to feel inside, the one specific pain that keeps nagging me and, reminding me that life is still happening and, I need to get back out there and be, well, normal again. To be able to live my life as I live it is all that I want now. I am getting about a lot better lately, but the sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, the spring is passed and I feel anxious, taunted, and I know how much I am missing out on because today, I should be out there too.
Like a caged tiger, both physically and mentally, with purpose and a distinct rolling of the shoulders, I am pacing, looking out at a world I still can’t touch, yet. It’s temporary – but time doesn’t wait and I am, through my steady improvements, becoming teeth-clenchingly restless for the outside. Artistic block is creeping in too and my edge is feeling decidedly dulled. I need to be doing what I do. None of this will matter much to many, nor should it matter – but my protracted pauses are of good reason.
Bear with me, please – I’m getting there; and keep doing what you all do. I’m reading!
In Gelston Castle | PT.I I published a few initial frames of this utterly gorgeous ruin, all three – photographed in infrared, using my internally converted 720nm IR X100. There’s a reason that I use this camera for infrared shooting rather than any later iterations of Fuji’s iconic camera. The sensor. Though it has less resolution than the ‘S’, the ‘T’ or the ‘F’ – its more organic output is simply perfect, when the slightly grainier aspect of IR light is to be captured. For some reason, the later versions of the X-Trans sensor just failed to do it for me and, as much as I have tried to wait, to see if one day their output would one day find its way into my visual affections – it hasn’t. I think six years with later X offerings is more than long enough. So, whilst my ‘T’ ended up for sale recently, the original will stay in my bag until it croaks on me.
As I habitually resize all of my frames before uploading for posts, there won’t be much visible difference between my captures and those from most other similar cameras with the same sensor size and subject to a similar workload, but when I’m working on them in post, I really do notice. On the other hand, my other internal IR conversion (the Ricoh GR) though slightly more gritty than the X-IR, has an even more pleasing output for infrared, but, oddly, even after setting WB prior to each excursion, the X seems to show much better colour balance and wider tonal range under infrared conditions, whereas the GR-IR shows only red and magenta tones. As I process all of my IR work for black and white, this makes very little difference in the long run – unless I need to accentuate any particular colour band.
To (non-scientifically) show the differences between three very different cameras, and, just for fun – these are three more shots of the beautiful Gelston Castle, from three different perspectives; one from each bit of kit. I hope you will enjoy them for what they are.
Show me just one day – then place within it some sunshine, a little water, a few boats, a blue sky and perhaps a few clouds, then – place my IR camera into my hands and you’ll see a smile on my face almost as broad at the Solway Firth. More than this, there really is no more to be said.
Captured well over a month ago, I had to be a little creative with my angles here, as in and around the grounds of this marvellous relic (which dates back to the 12th century) a large group of very young school children were enjoying some outdoor time under glorious sunshine. Without my even having to ask (which I wouldn’t have, anyway) but, as if they knew, I was politely granted all the privacy I needed to make my shots without any of them running into my frames. What more could I have asked for? Another one of Scotland’s ancient, tucked-away, lesser-known and beautifully preserved treasures, to which I as many others too, I am certain, would and do happily return.
Note: Of late, I am learning to adapt my workflow with more emphasis and, whilst I have always worked towards more even exposures, staying safe and sticking to preconceived ideas and so-called rules, I have decided that I am no longer going to do this. I need to push my boundaries and see where they take me and, I do hope that my work will reflect these ideas and remains enjoyable to those of you who read my pages. It’s a process – and I’ve been stagnant for so long.
Reflection. Evolution. Discovery… Onward.
To date, no ruin has ever taken my breath away on a first encounter as much as Gelston Castle did, on this day, one month ago. As I understand, it is not under the umbrella of any protective organisation and, stands on land now being run as holiday accommodation, in the village of Gelston, between Castle Douglas and the Palnackie to Auchencairn road. Completed around 1805, designed by Richard Crichton (a pupil of Robert Adam) Gelston Castle was built by Sir William Douglas, of Castle Douglas. During WWII, the house was requisitioned in order to care for handicapped boys evacuated from Glasgow and, once this use had ceased, it was de-roofed, never to be inhabited again.
Those of you who are regular readers of my pages will know that whenever the sun is out, if I am shooting beneath it, my IR cameras are the first tools I’d reach for. On this day however, conditions were unpredictable at best. This meant that I required around two to three hours to make enough images to cover my wish-list, at least, as frequent and prolonged cloud-cover tested my patience somewhat. With that said, I could have wandered around here for many more hours than I did. A beautiful monument, some of the most fabulous, fine architecture I have seen of late and, a lovely spot for just being what it is amidst stunning countryside views.
Shooting these old ruins is becoming a bit of a habit of late – one I am happy to continue to immerse myself in, I must say. When I am back on my feet, I’m going to go a-hunting again! Though I must remain patient – another ten weeks or more, I can’t wait.