Archives for posts with tag: shore lines

The Sun as a Heart

Another Orkney photo. I am now convinced that Orkney is a place where magical coincidences can be found more frequently than other places I visit. As you can imagine it was fiendishly difficult to get a decent exposure of the sun as the speed just meant blacking out everything else. But I was sure I saw something in the reflections and persevered while trying to avoid burning the retinas in my eyes.




Boats, reflected in the water of Dysart Harbour, Fife. I had also been trying out some longer exposures using a 10 stop ND filter, a couple of which I shall post in due course. These ones were much better without the filter as everything became too blurred in the gently moving water and it just looked like a poor handheld shot. The photo was flipped over to create the feel of abstracted objects in the sky

I took this picture through the window of the ferry as we sailed out of the harbour on our Summer holiday. It was so gloomy but I liked the flat greys and the view of the seafront through the rainy window. I used to travel over from Gosport to Portsmouth for 5 years as I went to school there so the views always remind me of those times. They weren’t at all gloomy, but weather is weather and there’s no point trying to hide it.

Dysart, Fife, 2011. Nikon D90

Another that I meant to post but never did. Partly because I was never quite happy with it. I recently had a really helpful critique of one of my photos from Robin Gillanders, a truly great portrait photographer (if you ever see his book on portraiture, buy it, it is the best one I have read on the subject). It was this one:

and what he said is true – that in scenes like this you need to break through the line of the horizon. I like to study composition in art, it is crucial to a good image, but it is harder to get it right with a roving on-the-fly camera image as opposed to a painting or drawing for obvious reasons. So I like the photo, the way the figure and the posts all lead off to the left, but it’s not quite there. The best book I’ve read on composition in by Henry Rankin Poore. Old and very traditional but indispensable. Also quite cheap on Amazon ūüôā

These pictures were taken today at Pettycur Bay which is one of my favourite Fife walks. You park the car at the harbour in Kinghorn and, when the tide is low to medium, walk out over a huge expanse of sand.¬†There¬†are times when you feel you could walk out to the ships in the Forth.¬†I pass it most days on the train to Edinburgh and the view is one that makes all the commuters stop whatever they are doing – phones, books, kindles – and look out with a sigh. You always know where you’d rather be.¬† Today we took left over Tobelerone and chocolates from Christmas – always a good bribe to get the kids out on a walk!

The photos were spontaneous and lucky. I held the camera low, set it to a wide aperture and pressed the shutter. I liked the effect so I contrived to make a series of walkers in the distance but generally had to hope that some came out of the random shooting.

Pettycur Bay, October 2011

I’m getting there with this series, a set of heavily manipulated photos of scenes I find walking along the sands. Some are just as found, others are put together. I think there is a way to go but I’m pleased with way they are shaping up. The bottle idea seemed a bit obvious but I like the feather and shell picture.

Pettycur Bay, October 2011

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Here are three pictures taken last summer, at Kielder Water in Northumberland. Contax G2, 45mm lens, Fuji Neopan 400. I finally got around to developing some rolls of film and had managed to print up a number of contact sheets in the darkroom. From there it was¬†Lightroom development, but I’ll probably take these back to the darkroom to see what I can achieve straight from the enlarger.

The family were fast asleep in the Youth Hostel and I had the unenviable role of sleeping with the¬†dog in the tent (No Dogs Allowed in Youth Hostels). Needless to say we both woke up early and rather than lay there with 35Kg of smelly hound, I went for a walk. I was rewarded with this view of the lake where it seemed hard to take a bad photo. The mist was rising fast so I didn’t have much time and kind of wished I’d got there slightly¬†earlier!

Robert Louis Stevenson had a grudge against the Scottish weather, in particular here on the east coast, which he described as having ‘one of the vilest climates under heaven’. Here is a shot taken at the end of July looking across to the promenade in Kirkcaldy. RLS got the summer spot on: ‘shifty and ungenial’. The cold sea fog is called the haar and it appears out of the east, a spiteful gift from the north sea when the sun shines and dares to warm our faces. I’ve got it into my head that we must somehow anger the sun god, to whom I am particularly worshipful.


But they’re shells, ok. More from my wild Saturday night in with the scanner, 2 bottles of wine and some black fabric. Does life get any better than this? The effect from direct scanning is comfortingly old-fashioned and lends the image quite a painterly feel. My thought of the week is this: How far has digital equipment really enabled us to travel?


The act of walking alone along the sea shore remains one of the great pedestrian romantic traditions. This was taken between West and East Wemyss, Fife, last weekend. Some asked me recently about why I don’t just use digital for all my photos. My response was I do – I scan negatives and use the internet to display images. I often use a digital slr. The discussion got on to one of the percieved great advantages of digital imaging, that of being able to see your image straight away. I admit there a real advantages here and the digital slr gets me taking photos of things that I would have given up on with a film camera. Equally valid though, I pointed out that there is another kind of memory card, in the mind, and that ‘card’ carries more resonance than the electronic one. Film negatives are latent images.They need to be developed, worked on, and I think that’s often how the brain works, if you embrace a little patience and allow yourself to daydream. Like you do walking along a beach, alone.