Caerlaverock Castle | 720nm Infrared | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, landscape, personal, photography, ruins, rural, skies, structures, trees

Crutches.


When things turn for the worst, we all need some kind of crutch to get us through – something (or things) that we can truly lean on. There’s no subtle message here, though. Besides the obvious, it’s not only been the sticks that have got me on my feet again. Though it was only the beginning, the end of April was a horrifying time for me and I have had no end of support from so, so many people. Friends, work friends and colleagues, healthcare professionals, family and of course, my love and my rock, Angela. I owe so many – so much.

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On the inside though, it has been imperative that I am and remain as positive as I  can possibly be and this is why, in writing this short post, I remember and continue to appreciate the support, care and love of every single person to have been here for me and, for those especially – who remain. No, I am not yet out of the woods, but I can see a clearing. Without every single iota of support that I have received over the last almost fifteen weeks, I am certain that I would not be in such good spirits, nor as motivated and hopeful as I unquestionably feel. The reason I’m writing these words, is this: these pictures of the beautiful Caerlaverock Castle are extremely important to me for one huge reason – they are the first outdoor pictures I photographed since the latter part of April.

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If photography was not another of my crutches, my loves, I don’t know what else I might have leaned upon to get me back out there, and so, with even the minutest support of every single person who helped to get me back out there and the love, support and patience of a very special woman, I was indeed able (after only eight weeks) to make these frames. I get almost tearful when I view them. The afternoon I made these was a struggle for sure – but it never was going to be just about getting a few pictures. Every single person around me – helped me to make them.

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In two words: thank you!

R.

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The Gardens of Drumlanrig | 720nm Infrared – PT.I | 35:Chronicle

28mm, 35mm, black & white, infrared, photography, rural, structures, summer, trees

Hog Heaven – An Alternative View.


Back in early April this year, we visited Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill. You may remember, if you’re a regular reader, that at the time, I was shooting with my then newly internally converted 720nm IR GR [PT.III of original series]- and, what I really wanted to capture were the beautiful gardens here. Sadly, April is a little early and the groundsmen were still working their fingers to the bone in preparing these fabulous grounds for the public and, some shots of the castle itself were the best that I could steal. Once they were open however, we went back – and, what a glorious day it was to wander around and to play with light again. 

Don’t be misled by a gentle introduction – this place is stunning in any light and, I hope to do Drumlanrig’s gardens justice over coming posts. I only hope you’ll enjoy them.

R.

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Down by the River | PT.II | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, photography, trees, waterscape

Looking Up.


Just a couple of weeks ago I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable on my feet, (with hospital supplied crutches, naturally) – and so, I felt that it was a good time to get across the road and take a little stroll along the river path. My fitness is undoubtedly less since the end of April and I am determined to lessen the damage as much as I can. Not only this, but I have been utterly itching to get out with my cameras again. This day seemed to me a perfect opportunity to kill two proverbial birds with a single stone. With Angie at my side (mainly because she doesn’t trust me walking alone yet – probably a very wise thing) we gently walked for a while, taking in the beautiful afternoon sunshine across the Nith and, regular stops for shots meant that I wasn’t pushing things too hard. 

To keep my bag light, these frames were all shot on my internally IR converted GR (with internal 35mm crop). In all honesty it’s still my go-to for impromptu jaunts. No matter – I hope you’ll enjoy these few frames as I have. I guess that for me, they’re way more significant. I can once again enjoy what I love.

I hope that you will too.

R.

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I | Water or, Sky?

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II | Still.

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III | To Greyfriars.

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Like a Tiger Caged | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, boats, infrared, nature, personal, photography, rural, trees, waterscape

On the Inside.


It’s been over seven weeks since the accident that put me flat on my back and, I’ll be brutally honest – it’s starting to hurt more. I’m not talking about the pains from the injuries though, you understand. Those, I can deal with. But the pain I am starting to feel inside, the one specific pain that keeps nagging me and, reminding me that life is still happening and, I need to get back out there and be, well, normal again. To be able to live my life as I live it is all that I want now. I am getting about a lot better lately, but the sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, the spring is passed and I feel anxious, taunted, and I know how much I am missing out on because today, I should be out there too.

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I | On the Rocks [II] | 720nm Infrared.

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II | Water Under | 720nm Infrared.

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Like a caged tiger, both physically and mentally, with purpose and a distinct rolling of the shoulders, I am pacing, looking out at a world I still can’t touch, yet. It’s temporary – but time doesn’t wait and I am, through my steady improvements, becoming teeth-clenchingly restless for the outside. Artistic block is creeping in too and my edge is feeling decidedly dulled. I need to be doing what I do.  None of this will matter much to many, nor should it matter – but my protracted pauses are of good reason.

Bear with me, please – I’m getting there; and keep doing what you all do. I’m reading!

R.

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III | Stronger | 720nm Infrared.

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Gelston Castle | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

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

Infrared & Visible-Light Comparisons.


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IV | Gelston Castle | Visible | X100T | 35mm Equiv.

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In Gelston Castle | PT.I I published a few initial frames of this utterly gorgeous ruin, all three – photographed in infrared, using my internally converted 720nm IR X100. There’s a reason that I use this camera for infrared shooting rather than any later iterations of Fuji’s iconic camera. The sensor. Though it has less resolution than the ‘S’, the ‘T’ or the ‘F’ – its more organic output is simply perfect, when the slightly grainier aspect of IR light is to be captured. For some reason, the later versions of the X-Trans sensor just failed to do it for me and, as much as I have tried to wait, to see if one day their output would one day find its way into my visual affections – it hasn’t. I think six years with later X offerings is more than long enough. So, whilst my ‘T’ ended up for sale recently, the original will stay in my bag until it croaks on me. 

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V | Gelston & Resident Crows | 720nm IR | X100 | 35mm Equiv.

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As I habitually resize all of my frames before uploading for posts, there won’t be much visible difference between my captures  and those from most other similar cameras with the same sensor size and subject to a similar workload, but when I’m working on them in post, I really do notice. On the other hand, my other internal IR conversion (the Ricoh GR) though slightly more gritty than the X-IR, has an even more pleasing output for infrared, but, oddly, even after setting WB prior to each excursion, the X seems to show much better colour balance and wider tonal range under infrared conditions, whereas the GR-IR shows only red and magenta tones. As I process all of my IR work for black and white, this makes very little difference in the long run – unless I need to accentuate any particular colour band. 

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VI | Gelston thro’ th’ Trees | 720nm IR | GR | 35mm Internal Crop.

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To (non-scientifically) show the differences between three very different cameras, and, just for fun – these are three more shots of the beautiful Gelston Castle, from three different perspectives; one from each bit of kit. I hope you will enjoy them for what they are. 

R.

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After the Rain Stopped Falling | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

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

The Lighthouse at Southerness | 35mm | 720nm IR.


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

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

Messing About with Boats | 720nm Infrared [PT.I]


Show me just one day – then place within it some sunshine, a little water, a few boats, a blue sky and perhaps a few clouds, then – place my IR camera into my hands and you’ll see a smile on my face almost as broad at the Solway Firth. More than this, there really is no more to be said.

R.

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I | Fisherman’s [Stock] Anchor & Scalloper Behind | Kirkcudbright | 720nm IR.

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II | Hull Breached by Time & Weather | The Loch Ryan Lady | 720nm IR. 

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III | Perpendiculars | Kirkcudbright | 720nm IR.

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Postcards from the Recovery Position [PT.I]
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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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