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

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

Pilgrim’s Progress | Ricoh GR Infrared.


III | Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill | 720nm IR | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 125th – f8 – ISO:100

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IV | Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill | 720nm IR | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 180th – f8 – ISO:100

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

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

About Turn | Ricoh GR Infrared.


Each of us has the right to change our minds. (That’s my excuse and, I’m sticking to it!) Insosaying, last month, I wrote a post about my newly converted GR – to 450nm, internally. The idea was that I’d be able to choose my preferred wavelengths for split-spectrum or infrared photography, but, things have been simplified rather, thanks to a few unwelcome dust-spots on its sensor. (Every cloud, an’ all that?) I arranged for the sensor to be cleaned and, in the interests of keeping the camera compact (without having to use the filter adapter for mounting an IR filter over the lens) I opted to have the internal 450nm glass removed and replaced with my preferred 720nm glass, instead. This has turned out to be a monumentally productive decision. 

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I | Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill | 720nm IR | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 180th – f8 – ISO:100

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These two frames are the first that I’m publishing from this new conversion and, after what started out as an uncertain day for IR captures – I have to say that I am utterly blown away by what this GR-720nm can resolve. Compared to my X100 conversion, I definitely see more details in the GRs shadows, though the Fuji does have better overall dynamic range and, controls the highlights a little better. The GRs files do look more organic to me (which is why I have always loved them for black and white work) and, in such compact form, no longer having to use the filter adapter to capture frames like this, it’s ridiculous how little I have to carry in order to get results such as these. Happy? Pahhh… doesn’t even come close!

R.

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II | Drumlanrig Castle | 720nm IR + ND500 | 35mm Internal Crop / 4:3 – 8″ – f16 – ISO:100

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Inside Thirlstane Arch | PT.I of II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, photography

On Being Prepared.


Barely a few miles from our county’s popular resort of Southerness is situated the picturesque inlet and beach of Powillimount (pron: po-wil-i-mont). I’d never heard of it (despite having lived around here for almost twenty years). The weather wasn’t great, but the kids (who had been before) wanted to go back and find the ‘cave’, again. Me? I was going because I was promised a delicious fish ‘n’ chips with curry sauce, afterwards. It was a grey day, chilly, with the sun making only fleeting appearances between larger cloud-pockets. Nonetheless, I took cameras for both visible and infrared opportunities – should they have arisen. It’s impossible to know beforehand. I remember, before moving to Scotland, being told that if going out for a whole day in shorts, that I should also take an overcoat; and if it’s raining when heading out, not to forget my Factor 30. It’s kind of true – and I’m grateful for that. On arrival, rather than walk the beach, we headed straight for the ‘cave’, just a few minutes walk away. As it turns out, the ‘cave’ happens to be the Thirlstane; rather  popular for climbers and, clamberers alike – and, photographers, too. Goodie!

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I. | 35mm -VIS.

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While the boys clambered or kicked the football on the beach, hunted for ‘fossils’ or swirled sticks in low-tide rock-pools, A and I sat and took in the view out across the Solway towards a hazy Cumbrian coastline, and the peace (between childish cries of discovery, astonishment, self-congratulation, or any of the frequent, “Watch this!” moments. The whole time, as we chatted, I kept my eyes open, for light; and after the best part of an hour, it arrived. Sliding my backside off a low rock, I took a wander around and, made a few frames. The Arch itself however, was the only part I could consider worthy of photographic appreciation, so, I concentrated here. 

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II. | 35mm – 720nm Infrared.

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Shooting both visible light and at 720nm renders  light so wonderfully differently and though both set-ups have their own characteristics, I will always have a preference for IR for conducive subjects under suitable light, to visible-light. However – on days like this, having a small collection of the same scenes photographed using both bands of wavelengths, lends to the eyes an absolutely gorgeous comparison which I am hopeful (yet, also certain) upon review, of not actually needing to explain.

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III. | 35mm – VIS.

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Getting an exposure balanced just right is tricky when the difference between shade and light is so great, still, I am very happy with these few frames and, I do hope you’ll have enjoyed this first instalment.

R.

[Frames I & III: X100T | Frame II: X100 720nm Conversion]
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In the Still of the Light | PT.IV | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins

The Ruin at the Cross | Finale.


Having had the pleasure of trying out my new GR conversion last week, I now have the pleasure of sharing with you the last two infrared frames, bagged during my saunter around the old church at the Cross, not far from my home. I have always enjoyed how the GR allows me to reproduce texture, contrast and visual detail (though, ironically perhaps, I care little for actual sharpness) especially as I shoot almost exclusively for black and white and, having this second GR in my bag (or occasionally, my pocket) really does extend potentials for  light-weight, no-fuss photography  – both for visible-light captures and for alternative wavelengths. 

I hope that these frames are as pleasing to your eye, as they are to mine. (Roll on, spring).

R.

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(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter.) 

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In the Still of the Light | PT.III | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins

The Ruin at the Cross | PT.II.


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(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter.) 


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In the Still of the Light | PT.II | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, structures

The Ruin at the Cross | PT.I.


These two frames are a taster of perhaps a few more to come, from a nearby church ruin. The fact that this single-storey derelict has its windows boarded-up is a little bit of a mystery to me and, a slight disappointment as it does rather mean that I can’t use those wonderful apertures as any kind of focal-point in any of my pictures. On the other hand, I am forced to put in more effort in my search for pleasing angles and views, and on such a day, I couldn’t think of anything better to do, than just that. 

(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter at 28mm.) 

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