Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.VI | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins

Lincluden Collegiate Church | 720nm Infrared [PT.I]


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.

R.

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Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.V | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, Indoor, nature, photography, portraits, still life

One Temperate Heart.


A little over three weeks into my recovery and I still have a long road ahead. Without labouring any point as to how I got into this position in the first place (you’ll have to read PT.I if you want the most basic of gists) I am at home, being well cared for by my Angie, and, when I have the opportunity (in other words, when she agrees that I’m fit and steady enough to move around a little and not completely doped on opioid pain relief and tripping over my crutches) – the first thing I still want to do (remember: this is a public forum, kids!) is, to make photographs. 

During my second week at home, I was able to do just that from my bedside and, as a way of reiterating that things could definitely be worse, I share these few frames with you all. I am missing some glorious spring sunshine but, it’s not going to stop me. I must keep moving. 

Warmth, Gratitude & Love.

R.

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I | From Friends.

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II | Introducing Charlotte the Red, by Window Seat (Don’t Ask!)

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III | Angie – After Fluffing-Up my Pillows.

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IV | From Friends & to Friends.

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All Frames: Ricoh GR | 35mm [APS-C Internal Crop at 4:3]
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Angie | An Impromptu Portrait Sesh’! | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, Indoor, people, photography, portraits

It’s About Time(s).


It’s been around five years since I made any serious portraits and, it goes without saying that after shooting almost nothing but faces for over five years up to that point, I have been missing the genre more and more, as the years have ticked by. With this is in mind, I decided upon a course of action which, seems to me perfectly timed. Despite my recent predicament, rendering me almost useless, physically, my partner agreed to help me with an interior set-up with a view to sitting for me, for a short shooting session. My ulterior motive should be clear however, for, during my previous week-long hospital stay and, at home too over recent weeks, she has barely left my side for even a moment. I could never have expected such unquestionable devotion and yet, every day, I have it. In spades. 

So, as a way of giving something back, my most heartfelt gratitude for time spent and, that which is yet to be – here’s my little gift of a few preserved moments in time. It’s the best I can offer for now. 

Introducing – my beautiful Angie-Bee. (Another huge reason for me to know what a lucky sod I am.) I hope you’ll enjoy these few frames.

R. 

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[Equip: X100T | Daylight & Single Spotlight Mix | Two Crutches and Pain-Relief!]

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Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.IV | 35:Chronicle

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

Drumcoltran Tower [PT.II]


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IV | From the Parapet | 35mm | 720nm Infrared.

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V | From the Third ‘Floor’ | 21mm.

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VI | Without: Within | 21mm.

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Postcards from the Recovery Position [PT.I]
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Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.III | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, personal, photography

Two Sides to the Coin [PT.I]

When something awful happens, it’s often easiest of all to see the negatives, impossible to ignore the seriousness, however, helpful too, if we can reflect and find at least some positives, no matter how small. The latter, takes a little more time, though, naturally – after acceptance.

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I | Life-Lines.

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As I lay in the bed in my local hospital, during the week that I was there, I had much time to reflect on what had happened to me and, to worry myself stupid as to the possible outcomes, relative to my future. With four broken bones in my spine, a broken toe (there’s a cruel joke if ever I heard one!) and severely bruised (yet miraculously, not broken) ribs (so I was told) – I had to suffer the indignity of wearing knee-length white socks, too. Okay, I know – I’m in the trade so I know how badly I absolutely do not want a DVT or worse, a PE. But with the help of regular pain relief, I was able to see the lighter side of things, sometimes. Most notably, I was still alive, and, I guess I’m in bonus-time now. 

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II | Introducing – Wendy.

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While friends and colleagues kept me busy with frequent, daily visits, appropriate (and inappropriate) humour(!), anecdotes, utter mickey-taking and wishes for a good recovery, I (fortunately, gratefully) had little time to wallow in self-pity  – still, that would happen all by itself during the early hours of each morning as I lay flat on my back, not even able to turn myself when my back-side became numb, or my back became more painful through each passing hour. The night terrors had successfully installed themselves in my head like a post-shutdown virus, to be activated every night during the hours of midnight and five a.m. just as they still do, and so, I needed something normal to act as a coping mechanism. Something intrinsic inside me.

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III | Abbie – One of my Guardian Angels.

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After a visit from my beloved, and a heartfelt request for my camera bag – she arrived later that evening to put a huge smile on my face as she sat it on my drawer unit next to me. I imagined that whilst having to remain still on my back for the time being, I would be rather stuck for shooting opportunities and, I wasn’t wrong. With this in mind, I hope that you will forgive my distinct lack of artistic content in these images. They are real, though. If the desire is strong enough – it’s still possible to capture a few frames that will serve to remind me again and again, of just how bloody lucky I am to even be here. I live to shoot again. Bonus time or not – however I look at it, for everything that’s good in this life, a second bite is a most welcome gift and, “every day, in every way – I am getting better, and better”.

(Thank you, Emile Coue de la Chataigneraie for the quotation!)

R.

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IV | Defining: ‘Snookered’?

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Postcards from the Recovery Position [PT.I]
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Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

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

Gelston Castle [PT.I] | 720nm Infrared.


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. 

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I | Rear Elevation | 35mm | 720nm IR | X100-IR.

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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. 

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II | Front & Side Elevation | 35mm | 720nm | X100-IR.

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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.

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III | Rear Elevation Between Tall Trees | 35mm | 720nm IR | X100-IR.

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Postcards from the Recovery Position [PT.I]
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Postcards from the Recovery Position | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

black & white, Indoor, infrared, landscape, personal, photography, ruins, rural, structures

Drumcoltran Tower [PT.I]


Okee doke, a little explanation is required here because my absence has been a little more protracted than I would have liked, of late. 

Two weekends ago, I was involved in a rather serious accident while at work and found myself admitted to hospital. Details aren’t important but I can say that I am very lucky to be alive. My injuries however, are serious enough that I am required to remain in bed and, after a week in hospital, I am now at home, in the same position, where I must stay for the foreseeable weeks ahead. 

Before I had returned to work however, during a number of beautiful days-off, I made the most of the sunshine and, with A, visited a good number of places, made an even better number of frames and, consumed regularly – copious cups of Earl Grey tea, locally made cakes and the occasional ice-cream too. With all of this noted, all of the frames I will post over the next few weeks are from the vault; a recently replenished vault, and, I am glad of it because the chance of me getting out to make photographs within the next six weeks or so, is looking so slim as to render it invisible, at least from a side-on perspective. 

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I | Drumcoltran Tower | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Drumcoltran Tower is situated in SW Scotland between Beeswing (Bees-wing as opposed to Bee-Swing; though the latter image may be rather humorous, nonetheless)  and Kirkgunzeon (pron: kur-gun-y’n) and is integrated now into a modern farm. It’s not very well signed and until you approach the junction that leads to it, it’s not signposted at all. But it’s so worth finding. 

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II | Mother Nature as Projectionist | 21mm.

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From the outside, it looks rather uncomplicated, not all that exciting, as other structures from its era might appear, and one would be fooled into thinking that a five-minute exploration would more than enough. I was fooled, because once we entered the tower, we didn’t leave for another ninety minutes or so. Over the next four or five posts, I hope to show just why this externally (comparatively) nondescript treasure of Scotland, captured my imagination. 

It’s good to be back and, I do hope that you’ll enjoy these first few frames of and, from this early 16th century beauty.

R.

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III | Enjoying the Views [One Must Keep His Spirits Up!]| 21mm.

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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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