Closer Still(s) | PT.XXI | These Bleeding Hearts | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, macro, nature, personal, photography

Moments Like This.


When a six year-old boy comes home with a gift like this, tied to his huge smile as he hands it to me (because all he can think about is the pictures that I’m going to make from it) it really does tug at the strings. If moments like this mean anything at all, it is that one can never underestimate the hearts of innocents. He’s even promised me he’ll save all of his pocket-money so that he can buy more for me to photograph. If that isn’t worth sharing, I don’t know what is.

(Thanks, Flynn!)

R.

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Closer Still(s) | PT.XX | A Little More Delicate | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, macro, nature, photography

In [& from] the Garden.


Over this recent and beautiful Easter weekend,  I took immense pleasure in setting up my close-up gear and, I took a wander around the borders and beds to see what I might find to shoot. I did manage a number of frames and, whilst I worked primarily for colour in this instance, I still couldn’t find as much pleasure from them, as I found in them once I had processed for black and white. Even here, there’s no getting away from the sheer, unavoidable distraction of colour. 

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I | Bleeding Hearts | 35mm. 

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II | Early Bluebells | 35mm.

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III | Bleeding Hearts [Side View] | 35mm.

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IV | Magnolia | 35mm.

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Orchardton Tower | 720nm IR | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

28mm, black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, rural, structures

A Once Outdated Revival?


A few miles drive from the beautiful Dundrennan Abbey, in the parish of Buittle (pron: Bittle) stands this fabulous structure, just a mile or so south of the village of Palnackie. It dates back to around 1400 AD and was built by the Cairns family who became strongly associated with this area from the early 15th century, onwards. What is special about Orchardton is that today, it is the only cylindrical tower left standing in Scotland. Oddly, it was also built around 200 years after round towers had ceased to be fashionable. 

The tower was situated at the north-east corner of a fortified yard which would have sheltered livestock and other domestic amenities, but itself, would have provided living accommodation on each floor, accessed mostly likely by the use of a movable staircase. At 11 metres in height, once climbed, the tower also provides spectacular views over the surrounding landscape, though here, the stonework is the real treasure. The last of its kind.

R.

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Dundrennan Abbey | 720nm IR | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, structures

900 Year-Old Details.


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V | Entrance Gate -720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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VI | Fraction – 720nm Infrared | 28mm.

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VII | Fraction [II] – 720nm Infrared | 21mm.

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VIII | Fraction [III] – 720nm Infrared | 28mm.

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[Dundrennan Abbey | 720nm Infrared – PT.I]
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Dundrennan Abbey | 720nm IR | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, structures

On Days Like These.


I. | The Abbey – 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Okay, okay! I have a thing about old buildings and magnificent, ancient stonework. It could be worse. Instead of cameras, I could have a PS or an Xbox (whatever they are – but hear that they are also quite popular?) 

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II. | From an Outer Doorway – 720nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Over the last almost twenty years, I have visited and revisited Dundrennan Abbey on more occasions than I can remember. Mary, Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland, here, before being escorted across the Solway Firth by the English, to Carlisle Castle where she would spend the next nineteen years as a prisoner before being executed, in 1587. Whether for the scenery, the history, or both – I have never tired of shooting here. Two days ago, I visited again and, with my IR converted GR in hand – spent around an hour making a few more frames. The groundsman (Pete) was also on site, fixing the ol’ place up a bit, ready for the spring and summer onslaught of visitors, but mostly, I had perfect ‘alone’-time to wander round and grab a few angles that I had missed over previous visits. Here, I wanted to simply show a few frames of some of Dundrennan’s beautiful arches – in a tad more detail, with each shot.

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III. | Through an Interior Arch – 720nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Shooting in IR under ideal conditions (bright sunshine and few clouds) really does bring out the contrast and utter magnificence of places like this – and I have no doubt that there are more just like this, waiting for me to capture. As spring and summer progress, I know already that I am going to have a very busy season indeed, not just for having so many places to shoot, but in the first instance – being able to visit them and soak up so much atmosphere, history and enjoying too, a complete change of pace. On days like these, there’s truly nothing better. 

R.

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IV. | Zenith – 720nm Infrared | 21mm.

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Drumlanrig Castle [720nm IR] | PT.III | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, landscape, photography, rural, structures

The Last of the First | Ricoh GR Infrared.


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. 

R.

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V | Drumlanrig Castle | 720nm IR | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 250th – f8 – ISO:100

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VI | Lined | 720nm IR | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 125th – f7.1 – ISO:100

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The Problem with Nostalgia | Personal Narrative | 35:Chronicle

black & white, personal, photography

Today is Saturday – Watch and Smile (& Other Memories).


I must have been only five years old when my family lived in that old Victorian flat. Across the road and only a fifty-yard hop and skip down it – was the infants’ school I had just started at, and next door, the Doctor, his wife and their two boys lived in their enormous four-story mansion. I mention this because, my father, who had his own Monday to Friday job, used to make extra money by hiring out his services as a builder and landscaper to friends and others he knew and, because during the seventies money was scarce and, he was never able to, well, relax. For as long as I knew him, he was either working at full-throttle or, asleep. On Saturdays, during the mid-seventies, from spring through to very late autumn, he would spend his hours right next door, working for the doctor. 

The grounds around the house were not surprisingly, huge. They were thickly bordered with all manner of shrubs and trees which we young boys would climb, hide in, build dens under and eat hurriedly thrown-together picnics inside – the lawns were perfectly trimmed and striped, ideal for boys’ games beneath a never ending summer sun and plenty of out-buildings to muck around in too. If it was raining, we’d remain indoors for the morning – shut ourselves in their playroom and watch TISWAS before venturing out to find something else to busy ourselves with, come rain or shine. Sometimes we’d help my father but moreover, he preferred to work on his own and I think the real reason that I was there was to give me a little play-time without him having to constantly watch over me. We never, as far as I can recall, got into any real scrapes. The house next door was a perfect retreat, a happy distraction and, I still miss those Saturdays. I only realised just how much – forty-four years later, when I visited Drumlanrig, not even a fortnight ago. 

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Echoes.

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Some two-hundred yards away from the main castle, towards the main road, sits this beautiful little bungalow, with its greenhouse almost twice the size of it; gravelled paths, shrubs, rustic borders and plenty of places to hide in, build yet more dens – and, to lark about under a bright and warm sky. I saw this place and every memory of those Saturdays came flooding back. The smell of the laurels, the sounds of crunching footfalls and the mysteries of what I didn’t yet know of what was around each next corner. As I approached the gate, I simply stood and – exhaled. The house here is markedly different from the mansion of my young-boy Saturdays, but this place echoes my past in ways I simply can’t explain any better. For a long time, well, ten minutes or thereabouts – I stood and just soaked it in, as best I could anyway. As much as I could, did not feel anything like enough, though. Some places speak to us, I suppose. Without rhyme or reason, without intention or provocation. Yet the voice is always my own.

As I leaned on the gate and grabbed a few frames, I was aware that I seemed to be exhaling far more litres of air than I was inspiring, in disbelief of the feelings invoked most probably – and as ridiculous as all of this may sound to some, many even or, to you, I felt alive, that both a joy and a sadness presided in me with such weight that I should even feel it now, enough to write a few words about it. You see, I’ll never know exactly what happened to my father and, there’s a natural feeling of disconnection that has presided in me all of my life – not because I want or need to know the details (I’ve had  one or two opportunities to find out, had a fear of the known not been so strong) but because I can’t ever remember him being the father I would have always imagined I’d have wanted or needed him to be. In some way – I think views such as this, places that so intimately mimic the more beautiful memories of a past so far removed from a life of responsibility, simply remind me that I came from somewhere.

And some of it was good. 

R.

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Drive-By Shooting, Perhaps? [720nm IR] | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, structures

It’s a Beautiful Thing.


Visually, I am utterly drawn to churches, graveyards, old stone, ancient architecture – moreover, the atmosphere that oozes from an old idea of what structural art could be, and touches the insides; those enduring testaments of purpose combined with design, symbolism and even greatness that entices awe, wonder and even momentary feelings of belonging. It’s not about religion though, at least – not for me. I believe it’s about our instinctive desire as human beings to create, which must be surely born solely from the sense of what we feel most passionately about? Whether it’s created from what we need or, what we most want, it truly is a very beautiful thing to create. Inspiration plays a huge part too and, from what we have seen or known before, a benchmark is set from which we can visualise elements in our own minds that perhaps are unique to each of us. Sometimes though, some designs are so enduring, that very few elements differ nowadays, from even their initial conception, deep in the past. Can you think of a better design for a pair of scissors, perhaps, a paperclip, or – the wheel? While maybe not visually awe-inspiring in the main, these designs endure. 

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IV | Remains [I] | 21mm – 720nm IR.

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V | 21mm – 720nm IR.

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Many of Scotland’s more modern churches, however, whilst conforming to a design ethic, don’t always have the same feel as the more ancient, yet, many are built on the site of far older chapels and these run down structures can illicit the very same emotions and feelings of mystery as their far grander replacements, purely by their own, often more crude yet still clearly purposeful design. Here at Closeburn, though I have driven by so many times over the years, having also made countless reminders to myself while doing so, that I should visit and photograph the church across the fields, I never, ever noticed the old chapel behind it. I had no idea that it was there. 

Naturally, I would prefer a far less cloudy day if I am to make the most of this beautiful place, and perhaps I am jumping the gun just a tad in sharing these particular infrared images, because I absolutely know that I can capture it better than this – in a way that I know is not just a visualisation in my mind, but an achievable reality. Still, I love this secluded spot and my impatience often gets the better of me – and so it has today. I hope you’ll enjoy them. There’s peace here. Roll-on summer, so that I can head back.

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VI | Remains [II] | 21mm – 720nm IR.

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This post is written in salute to the late Sir Simon Marsden – a true pioneer and one of my own personal inspirations in the field of infrared photography. Methods change, but ideas endure. 

R.

[All images: Ricoh GR 720nm IR Conversion]

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Drive-By Shooting, Perhaps? [720nm IR] | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, structures

A Little Bit of Archery.


For over fifteen years, my shutter-finger has been tantalised by this rural church whenever I’ve driven the main road that passes by it, only a quarter of a mile away. Set in front of its beautiful tree-lined backdrop, behind rolling fields, I can’t understand why it’s taken me so long to take that little side-road in order to capture it. Though it’s early in the year and, the overhead conditions remain unpredictable, I spent a lovely hour here – simply investigating and, grabbing some IR frames. I do hope you’ll enjoy this initial instalment and, have a great week ahead. 

R.
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I | Closeburn Church | GR-720nm IR | 21mm – 1/100th – f8 – ISO:200

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II | Closeburn Church | GR-720nm IR | 28mm – 1/320th – f8 – ISO:100

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III | Closeburn Church | GR-720nm IR | 21mm – 1/125th – f8 – ISO:100

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