Tag Archives: weather

Smoky mountains – the art of forgetting

I made a number of images last year that I’ve only just had developed (mostly by Dan at The Photo Parlour – highly recommended).  One of the advantages of this delay is that I have been discovering the images afresh.  This is something I learnt from Bruce Percy, though I’ve never had such a long wait – there were even images from November 2014 in this batch!

I’m pretty pleased with most of them, and forgetting exactly what was intended makes me see them in a different way to more rapidly processed images.  I have distance to them, and interpret and see them in new ways.  For example, here’s one that I had not remembered until I came to looking at it much more closely once it had been scanned and imported to Lightroom:

July 2015, looking east across Loch Ewe (click to see a slightly larger version)

July 2015, looking east across Loch Ewe (click to see a slightly larger version)

I think these are Glas Mheal Mor – Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill – Sgurr Creag an Eich – Sail Liath, but in the meantime am not completely sure, and my extant notes simply say ‘smoky mountains’!  Any note I may have had of how I identified them at the time is lost.

What is now more interesting to me than the exact location is that sometime before going north to Loch Ewe I had been reading about distressing negatives – see, for example, this short description – and I have a vague recollection that I deliberately scratched and damaged one of my negatives. In a careless (carefree?) sort of way, I didn’t write down which one that was, but it must be this one – and I love it. At the time I clearly thought through what the image would be, choosing Ilford FP4+ film to emphasise the subtle cloud tones (even though I can’t exactly remember doing that) and the damaging of the negative (that I also only partially remember) accentuates the sense of foreboding and darkness that the weather was creating. In fact, it almost looks as if it was raining heavily – but I know that it was a dry evening.

The art of forgetting takes on a new meaning…!

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River Forth, Gartmore

It’s been a bit wet here recently.

However we thought we’d go for a walk today, and headed for the Fairy Knowe near Gartmore; we thought the car park that we often use, despite being not that far from the River Forth, would probably still be accessible. We took the 4×4 car, but decided even that wasn’t going to get to the car park at the bottom of the track:

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, 5. December 2015 (click to see the full size pano)

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, 5. December 2015 (click to see the full size pano)

In May, those trees were… err… not in the river:

Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, May 2015

Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, May 2015

Also, the Forth is normally much calmer than this:

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, April 2015

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, April 2015

This is from just a few weeks ago:

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, November 2015

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, November 2015

The Forth runs very low at times, and it’s possible to get to the sandbanks in the middle of the river without any difficulty:

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, April 2015

River Forth, Fairy Knowe, Gartmore, April 2015

Of course, for me this is just an interesting and unusual experience – I do realise that there are many people who are experiencing real difficulty with flooding, whether in Tamil Nadu, Lagos and Dar es Salam, or elsewhere in Scotland or northern England and Wales.  As the link on Lagos and Dar es Salam describes, global climate change is clearly very real.

Cashel Forest and Strathcashell Point, Loch Lomond

On Saturday we went for a walk by Loch Lomond.  This was intended to be a woodland walk, but it was so wet, it became more of a bogland walk – but was still very enjoyable.  We went to Cashel Forest and up Cashel hill, which would normally be a relatively easy walk, with occasional steep parts.  Water gushing down the hillside, at times washing away what path there was or turning the path into a slippery morass, made for a slower ascent and descent.  Nonetheless, being high over Loch Lomond did reward us with some beautiful views.

Loch Lomond, 4.1.14

Loch Lomond, 4.1.14

I had taken a digital camera with me.  This was my first ‘proper’ excursion for some time, what with moving house and work demands stopping me from getting out with a camera since the summer, and whilst these were little more than snapshots of new views for me, I was wanting to engage fully with the context I was in.

Cashel Forest, 4.1.14

Cashel Forest, 4.1.14

In the periods when it stopped raining (or rained less), this was, of course, easier to do, not least for simply enabling greater visibility.  However, the great thing about wetness is that it emphasises some of the fantastic colours in the trees and bushes, with purples and reds dominating.  In the spring and summer this will all be covered in foliage and so will mostly be green (which is a different kind of beautiful), but I do prefer autumn and winter for the richness and variety of the colours on display.

When it rained, it rained heavily, testing the waterproofing of our raincoats pretty thoroughly!  It also became much more difficult to make photographs – this image was taken on my iphone and the rain was so heavy I could barely see the screen:

Loch Lomond, 4.1.14

Loch Lomond, 4.1.14

I tweeted this from the hillside, but later deleted it when I saw it in detail.  I should not have done that – it does actually convey a very real sense of the hillside views in the rain!  Shortly afterwards, in a brief drier moment, I made the first image above of a similar view.  At one stage, when I wanted to photograph the path and the colours we were on, I took out the camera to find the lens almost completely misted over.  So I breathed on it to mist it over completely, and made this:

Cashel Forest, 4.1.14

Cashel Forest, 4.1.14

Of course, we buy cameras with millions of pixels and expensive lenses so we can breathe on them and create blurry images…! 🙂  I jest, of course – but this actually represents our view for much of the walk, so it’s an accurate image – you can just about make out a path leading from the bottom left, and see the outline of the hills.

Strathcashell, 4.1.14

Strathcashell, 4.1.14

Before we went up the hill on Saturday morning, we walked briefly towards Strathcashell because I wanted to see the way to Strathcashell Point, a place that I wanted to visit on my own on Sunday morning.

The track to the Point goes past a patch of woodland that I intend to go back to – widely spaced trees in various states of growth and decay, offering some interesting explorations.

The Point itself is reached by following the track almost to the end, and crossing a field with livestock in it.  The Point has ruins of an old fortification, presumably an ancient watch post to monitor traffic up Loch Lomond, but the ruins consist primarily of the remains of some exterior walls, none higher than about 50cm.  The point is itself shielded by a small cluster of trees that do not really suggest a promontory at all when viewed from the land:

Strathcashell Point, 5.1.14

Strathcashell Point, 5.1.14

The trees would offer shelter in wilder weather, but in contrast to Saturday’s strong winds and torrential rain, early on Sunday morning the air was completely still: with birds singing, and the sun gently rising, it felt as if spring was on the way!  Because nothing was moving I was able to use some longer exposures and still keep detail in the branches of the trees.  I made a few images overlooking the Loch, in part towards the snow-covered peak of Beinn Eich on the western side of the Loch (at least, I think that’s what it was), but mostly I just paid attention to the partially submerged trees – the high rainfall in recent weeks have clearly filled the loch.

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Strathcashell Point, 5.1.14

Strathcashell Point, 5.1.14

Strathcashell Point/Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

Strathcashell Point/Loch Lomond, 5.1.14

I quite like these images, and it was reassuring to know that being out with a camera again felt so natural.  After all these months when it has not been possible, I’ve really missed not making anything more than occasional snapshots, and whilst the images above are mostly simply to be ‘enjoyed’ rather than being particularly thought-provoking, they give me great satisfaction.  Not photographing for any length of time always results in my mind developing doubts about my ability to ever make images again: I am very good at self-doubt!  So this weekend was carefully thought-through and planned to counter this gnawing insecurity: apart from identifying locations on a map and on PhotoTransit and then scouting the Point on Saturday, using a digital camera rather than film meant I could do something with the images as soon as I came home.  Whilst out with the camera, everything felt completely natural – this is hardly a surprise, but it is still very reassuring (telling myself this would be the case in advance doesn’t work: I need to see that it would be so).  That is why digital made sense this weekend, even if most of my landscapes are now on film.

I have no idea what kind of half-used film is in my sadly-neglected 35mm and Mamiya 645 cameras that are still in the cupboard, but I’ll be getting them out and finishing the rolls shortly.  Now that everything has settled down a little after the move, my mind is clearer and I can start to think about creating imagery again.  It is also helping me with thinking through the next stages of the windfarm essays (ha! I bet you thought I’d forgotten about that!).

Also: this week, my new darkroom equipment should be arriving… more excitement!

On the beach

Having moaned yesterday about the weather, this morning Edinburgh (or at least my part of it) was shrouded in a lovely heavy harr (or mist, for non-Edinburgh readers).  I took just the digital camera and was on the beach at the bottom of the road well before 7:00.  Look at the dense mist here – fabulous!  I wasn’t sure whether to think these shoes were slightly disconcerting or not, given the discarded socks and Tshirt nearby…

Portobello beach, 25.5.12

Portobello beach, 25.5.12

Lovely to be outdoors again with a camera, and I promise I’ll not moan too much more about the weather for now… though as I write this, in the afternoon, it is sunny and warm once more…!

This weather is rubbish!

It is all just a bit depressing – I’ve been incredibly stressed for the last few months due to unreasonable pressures being put upon us (the academic staff in the university, I mean), and as a result I’ve been unable to make sufficient time for getting out into the landscape to make any photographs. But now that I might be able to get out once or twice in the next few days, the weather has turned and become really rubbish: all bright sunshine and warmth – ugh!

Rubbish weather!

I know some people are glad to see some warmth and sunshine, but I do get bored of the supposed jollity we’re all supposed to be feeling as the temperatures rise – just let me engage in my mumping about the weather.  After all, even if I do get out into the hills in the next day or two, it’ll probably be rubbish! 😉

Playing with Lightroom 4’s black and white conversion

I don’t convert many colour images to black and white. In general if I want a black and white image, I tend to use black and white film. I know that there are many people who use specialist conversion software, but given the cost of this kind of thing, I’ve never been that keen on going down this route.

Incoming storm, by Loch Scridain, Isle of Mull (click image to see larger version)

Incoming storm, by Loch Scridain, Isle of Mull (click image to see larger version)

However, I think the new version of Adobe’s Lightroom (we’re at version 4 now) has improved the black and white conversion processing no end. I installed it yesterday, and today I played with an image from a visit to Mull last autumn that I have tried to convert to black and white several times, but never in a way that I was really happy with. Perhaps it just needed multiple experimentations, but I do have a sense that it was considerably easier to achieve this result in version 4 of Lightroom than in version 3. I’m not sure I’m completely finished with it as I wonder if it’s maybe a little bit too dark, but it certainly now represents more of how I felt the landscape, the clouds and the weather appeared to me at the time – the fast-moving storm from the loch off picture to the left, across to the mountains. It corresponds to how I envisaged the image turning out when I took it. A minute or two after squeezing the shutter, I was back in my car, as the rain hammered down.

I don’t normally find software releases very exciting, but it seems to me that Lightroom 4 is a significant improvement on version 3. And if you want to get it at a reduced cost, Adobe has it on offer at a cheaper price at the moment to mark the release…

PS In case you’re interested in these things, the photograph was taken on a Nikon D90 with a 10-24mm lens at 24mm (that’s equivalent to 36mm in full frame terms).

Tomorrow morning… beachscapes with the Rolleiflex

The weather is looking good for early tomorrow morning, and so I think I’ll take the old Rolleiflex down to the beach and try out some monochrome beachscapes (I have Ilford 125 film in it just now).

Tomorrow's forecast!

Tomorrow's forecast!

And I must start getting my film developed – I have rolls from October 2011 and perhaps even earlier waiting here! I know that I should, of course, start developing my film myself… that will come…