Field trip – Gran Canaria

I have just returned from a short trip to Gran Canaria, my first visit to this island. It was not designed as a photographic trip, but I did make some images and this report is about the results and my thoughts.

From previous visits to Colorado, California, Tenerife, etc., I already knew the combination of the light qualities, the bright colours and the geometric architectural shapes, are very appealing.

The location for the trip was Puerto Rico, a holiday ghetto, and I did not have a car so had little opportunity to escape or to find specific photo opportunities. However, a few subjects were found.

This image sums up my feelings about Puerto Rico. Pete Seeger’s song about “Little Boxes” comes to mind. This is typical, except that the trees in pots add some welcome variety to the identical white boxes all with blue accessories.

However, I found I was attracted to the blue/white themes as close-up, graphical arrangements.

Or, as here above, a collection of differently coloured geometrical shapes.

These next few images are more typical of my mixing human constructs in the landscape, their narratives and the geometrical shapes formed by the elements.

This final image was inspired by perceiving a confrontation between the army of trees and the powerline. The trees appear hesitant, all bunched up in the face of the single power pole.

The one thing that would persuade me to return to Gran Canaria would be the possibility of a project documenting the banana plantations and farming communities, well away from tourist towns.

Perceiving potential Narratives as a source of composition

This title  describes a situation where my initial impressions of a scene result (usually) in anthropomorphic narratives being applied to inanimate objects and their relationships within a scene. I then compose the image to emphasise the narratives I have seen. I emphasise these are almost instantaneous visions of relationships and potential narratives. These are compositions that I used to consider wholly intuitive until I started this research and began to unravel my motivations image by image.

In this image I had perceived a relationship between the power pole and the children’s slide. The pole appears powerful, upright and, with a high viewpoint, it appears attentive, as if scanning for threats.

The pole’s juxtaposition, relative to the slide (representing a child) made this scene appear to be of a metaphorical parent and child. The parent protective and observant whilst the child slide is bright, curved (stress-free) and enjoying itself.

This next image, taken at the same time as the Slide and Pole above, is all about the violence inflicted upon the hedge.

It was photographed head on, to give the impression of our facing a soldiers’ advance, as on a WW1 battlefield. The soldiers in the foreground have been mown down whilst the tall, strong trees behind (generals perhaps?) are untouched and focused above and beyond the ranks towards a higher purpose.

This is another image seen and very quickly taken because I knew (intuitively?) that there was a story here, in this composition. It was part of my BA (hons) final degree exhibition in 2011.

The painting is of an early, Lord Wraxall, creator of the 600 acre, Tyntesfield House Estate, near Bristol. His wealth and the building of the estate was funded by the import and sales of guano from South America. The house and estate are now owned by the National Trust.

My narrative for this image is founded upon Tyntesfield House no longer being the private home of a wealthy aristocratic family but having been turned, by the National Trust, into a zoo of objects for the general public to gaze upon. Instead of Lord Wraxall’s image being displayed prominently, in a way he might consider appropriate to his standing, it is behind a cord with his face is covered. Not perhaps a dignified situation for the former owner of the house. His image has been reduced to that of just another stately home object with its meaning removed for all except those few who take a direct interest in the history. For me this is an image about mortality, the triviality of our existences, whoever we are, and the world moving on regardless.

Another image where the composition was quickly formulated after perceiving some key factors about the location. First, the rock colours and the conical piles reminded me of treasure. This idea was reinforced by the aggressive looking bulldozer, not looking at us, but appearing attentive, cowering behind its own little gravel pile. Is it protecting the treasure? The final elements that formulated the narrative were the tracks appearing from the bottom left. A few have ventured passed the “teeth” of the bulldozer but more have turned around, not risking annoying the guard.


These are fanciful, anthropomorphic narratives that work for me. I am explaining them here as part of my research, but I have learned that I should not normally provide viewers with such stories as this limits their own creation of narratives. Additionally, if the viewer rejects my interpretation, they may not go on to develop their own.

I have now learned to have confidence in my images. If I can develop such complicated, metaphorical narratives from my photographs, then others can also do it for themselves.

Same location, similar content but very different origins

I have noticed that some of my images, whilst superficially very similar, have quite different origins for their compositions. For example, these images, were both taken at Skaw on Unst on the same day:

This image followed a pattern I have seen and used before. I instantly saw its potential as a piece of “Public Art” and arranged the composition to make it look far more like I am celebrating an artist’s installation rather than a mundane concrete support for an antenna – its actual purpose. The positioning of the clouds was also deliberate so as to give the impression that the steel girders are chimneys. Overall, this image was deliberately contrived and composed to achieve a quirky, mildly humorous photograph.

This image, whilst superficially, very similar, had a quite different origin. I did not initially perceive this brick construct as an independent element within the scene. Rather I saw it, halved, as shown here, with the pool of water cradling its base, and the clouds plus the horizons of the land and the sea pointing towards it. In other words, I saw the whole picture as a series of interrelated shapes rather than as individual elements of a composition.

The next diagrammatic version explains what I perceived more clearly.

Was my seeing this a moment of “visual indeterminacy”? It was certainly a fleeting moment of initial perception that was soon replaced by an understanding of the various parts as discrete elements.

From then on, I used my memory of my initial perceptions to compose the final image.

The following image was conceived quite differently to either of the ones discussed above.

I saw this as a pleasing arrangement and alignment of the lines that connected the foundations to the derelict shed and the horizon. It is a consciously composed image where the reality of independent elements has been challenged by moving the camera until the separate components were forced to connect.

The next image has no narrative perceived by me and was seen as no more than a nicely balanced arrangement of disparate elements, in particular the tracks, block houses and the rocks.

It is a conscious design that leaves everything except the stability of the image unexplained.

Here are further examples, from different locations, where I had an initial, short, almost two-dimensional perception of the scene that was then used to construct a final image from my memory of it:

Initial (indeterminate) 2D perceptions

This instantaneous visualisation of the whole and or relationships between elements that exist visually but not in reality is not a new phenomena for me. However, having recognised, in 2018, and understood they way it works for me, I am now deliberately following that path and not trying to over-think the compositions.

Images from the same locations as those above but that were more “traditionally” seen and composed follow: 


By “traditionally” composed I mean that I saw what looked like a pleasing arrangement of elements and moved around to achieve the final composition. There was no instant visualisation and usually little “potential narrative” to be developed.

Of course there is narrative potential in this image below. However, at the time I only saw it a an interesting arrangement of the building, the man-hole and the fence. Unlike the earlier scene from this location this is easily perceived as a three-dimensional image rather than being seen in just two-dimensions.

“Potential narratives” as a source of composition will be discussed in a later blog.


The above demonstrates that even at a single location, on the same day, my motivations for making individual images can vary significantly. There are at least 4 different sources of inspiration from my day at Skaw on Unst!




Ansel Adams leaves me cold!

I have admired the landscape photography of Ansel Adams for about 30 years. However, it has never excited me. His photography is always technically superb, but I have rarely found his landscapes images stirring me emotionally. This may sound heretical but, for me, Adam’s images are little more than stunning records of sublime landscapes. The subject is beautiful, but the photograph has little to add to it. What am I missing?

Please note that I am particularly discussing Adam’s large vista landscape photographs and not his intimate floral, tree or architectural images which I do find engaging both artistically and emotionally.  Ansel Adams – El Capitan

Perhaps, like the landscape painters of the Hudson River School who invented, overly dramatized scenes, such as below, Adam’s photographs are somehow unbelievable. Adams maybe making photographs, but their reality feels questionable.Thomas Cole – Scenes from the Last of the Mohicans

In part I believe this lack of credibility is due to Adam’s images not having any signs of human presence. Without such evidence, human constructs or traces, such scenes might as well be invented. Personally, I need to see that other humans have been to a location to believe in it. I am more interested in, and find it easier to engage with, a landscape when there is evidence that humans have interacted with the location. A pristine, “natural landscape” was in Adam’s time and is still a rare if not impossible location.

Thomas Cole’s painting does include humans. But it is a painting and therefore cannot be a wholly accurate portrayal of reality. For photographs, there is a long-held misconception that they do accurately record reality, but this has never been true. Since as long ago as the 1840’s photographs have been manipulated and, anyway, every photograph is inherently the photographer’s edit of the world and time, not a whole reality.

Conversely, from the first time I became aware of the New Topographic photographers, especially Robert Adams, and Lewis Baltz, I was excited and felt emotionally connected with their rendering of banal subjects as something worthy of being appreciated and investigated. Somehow, their ability to depict the mundane as (albeit accidentally) beautiful resonates with me. I am interested in understanding what it is they are trying to say about a scene. When I feel they have created beauty out of the banal then I am drawn into the image to try and understand why and to create my own meanings.

However, going back to my original argument, at a recent conference on landscape photography I saw 2 very successful and highly considered landscape photographers showing and discussing their work. They were Charlie Waite and Colin Prior. This was interesting because, like with Ansel Adams, I admire the craft of these photographers, but I often fail to be engaged by their images. Again, what am I missing?

Charlie Waite showed the following image:

My immediate reaction was that the sky was too visually noisy, and this conflicted strongly with the calm, soft beauty of the sand dunes. The two elements seem to be fighting with one another and this had a negative effect on me. Charlie Waite said that his sister had surprised him when she described the sky as “too chaotic”. So, I am not alone! Was Charlie Waite only aware of the drama in the scene and overlooking the emotional conflict?  This image by Colin Prior (Liathach and Beinn Eighe) captures a sublime, dawn scene in difficult winter conditions that took real effort and skills to make. It is beautiful but, after a few seconds of viewing, I am left wondering what it is trying to say. There does not, for me, appear to be any meaning, message or alternative way of seeing the world being proposed by such an image. Perhaps my wish for images to convey more than just (accepted) beauty is limiting my appreciation.

Both these photographers, and their success, seems to be predicated upon being able to access and record moments and locations in dramatic ways that most of their viewers could not hope to emulate. Are they selling a dream, an overly romantic view of the world, that I consider to be an unachievable fiction, for most people, most of the time. Are they selling their visions of heaven?

On the few occasions when I have been in such dramatic places and experienced the light, the solitude, the moment then I have felt spiritually uplifted. Note, I am not a spiritual person, so these occasions are rare. However, a photograph of such a time (as shown below) will rekindle those emotions within me but someone else’s images of the same or similar places and moments will still leave me cold. For this image I have a personal connection and knowledge that I cannot achieve by looking at others’ photographs.Krafla, Iceland.

Usually, and perhaps contrarily, when I am in such moments, I will take a single picture then put the camera away in order to fully concentrate on the moment, the experience. For me, enjoying the experience itself is far more important than the recording of it which can never be more than a trigger for an inadequate memory.



How to define a “Successful” image

In order to understand the conscious and unconscious motivations behind my landscape practice I first needed to decide which images were “successful” and which were not. The thinking here is that an unsuccessful image can be a failure for any number of reasons whereas the successful image probably only has a few contributing characteristics. Therefore, it is the study of successful images that will be most effective as a strategy for uncovering what drives my image making processes. Later, I will need to test these findings against a set of unsuccessful images to look for any inconsistencies of thought or process.

As this is an autoethnographic study aimed at understanding my own practice and my own perceptions, this has to be measured against my personal criteria, not that of other viewers. Initially, the only criterium that I could articulate was that a successful image is, one that excited me at the time of making, a day later, a month later, etc. This, purely emotional, test proved to be a good tactic for sorting the successful from the rest but failed to tell me anything about why one image was good and another just average.

Using this methodology, I initially tested ~2500 landscape images taken over the last 10 years and rated just 186 as being successful images. Note, these 2500 images were images already deemed to be anything from excellent to acceptable. Any failures or unacceptable images had already been eliminated from the ~20,000 taken during that 10 year period. Over the next months I added a few recent images and started analysing the successful ones for which characteristics of the scene had “triggered”1 me to make the image and for their different types of “content”2. This was an iterative process which caused me to upgrade some additional images to the successful category and to reject others as my understanding and definitions of the various triggers and contents was clarified. The number of successful images was now 204. However, this process also revealed that not all successful images are equal. I was prompted to further segment the successful group into A, B & C categories based upon the degree of excitement that I felt about an image. Again, this is useful as a working model but is still an emotional, unquantifiable characteristic that needs to be further understood and defined.

There are now just 104 images classified as “A”, my very best images. Re-evaluating these images, I have tried to articulate why they excite me.

First, every one of these 104 images has captured and now evokes the feelings of calm, silence, isolation and insignificance that I felt at the time I made the photograph. These are not negative experiences but a recreation of previous moments in life when I have felt most joyful and free. Like Robert Adams, I too have lived in the prairies of Colorado and can perfectly relate to his comment in the Forward to his book “Prairie” (1978):

“There is everywhere silence – a silence in thunder, in wind, in the call of doves, even a silence in the closing of a pickup door.”  Robert Adams

If I consider one of my images has captured such emotions in the way Robert Adam’s images have done, then I am excited.

Secondly, I am excited when I have perceived something I believe is unique, that I am seeing and interpreting the scene in ways no-one else has ever done before. Often this is where the image reveals to me an “accidental beauty”3 in the arrangements of its man-made and the natural elements or a new perspective that encourages the viewer to ask why, to look for metaphor, to create narratives. As stated by Sean O’Hagan in the Guardian, talking about Robert Adams, I also want to be an:

“artist whose work demands close attention – and a degree of patient attentiveness – from the viewer.” Sean O’Hagan

To do this the image must not just be new but also obviously different so that a reaction, even if it is one of dismissal, is caused. Just like the New Topographic photographers (Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz, in particular) I aim to depict the banal4 as accidentally beautiful. Adams used the qualities of light, Baltz uses the geometrical shapes of buildings, my trope is the juxta-positioning5 of human constructs against apparently natural landscapes.


Trigger – my trigger words describe what had catalysed my pressing of the shutter. They are: Design (conscious), Design (unconscious), Intuition, Belief, Recognition and Spectacle.  How these were derived, and their definitions are explained in other essays.

Content – words that describe the content of my images, when later reviewed are: Narrative Potential, Incongruity, Light, Shapes, Isolation and Power/Subordinate. These words describe the dominant elements of the content. Most images have at least 2 appropriate content words. How these were derived, and their definitions are explained in other essays.

Accidental Beauty – is when the unplanned positioning of unrelated objects and elements in a scene cause a pleasing, a humorous or an intriguing arrangement. This is “found art” and not the deliberately constructed compositions of the Still Life artist. The expressionist sculptor, David Smith, described his triggers for accidental beauty as follows:

“They can begin with any idea. They can begin with a found object. They can begin with no object. They can begin, sometimes, even when I’m sweeping the floor and I stumble and kick a few parts that happen to form an alignment that sets me off thinking, sets off a vision”. Smith, D.

Or as described by photographer, Andy Wohl, on his website:

“I do not look for typically “beautiful” scenes; landscapes, flowers, animals but find more potential in the random and accidental arrangements of chairs in a courtyard, a pile of cardboard boxes or the still life arrangement of common, mundane and even homely objects found at hardware stores, grocers, garden supply stores, bait and tackle shops and antique shops.”  Andy Wohl.

Banal – “So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.” Oxford Living Dictionaries, viewed at on 08/10/18

Juxtaposition – everyone one of my images, other than those triggered by Spectacle, have the juxta-positioning of a human construct or traces against its environment as the key (although, not necessarily the largest) element of the composition.


O’Hagan, S.  viewed on 7/10/18

Smith D. The Search for Accidental Beauty, a video published by SFMOMA, viewed at on 08/10/18

Wohl A. Accidental Beauty, viewed at on 08/10/18


Artworks that have long influenced my photography 

These images all had an immediate, emotional impact on me when I first saw them. However, I did not understand and could not articulate why, at the time.

Rene Magritte, The Empire of Lights

I first saw Magritte’s paintings in my late teens and found his strange juxtapositions interesting and often humorous. However, this painting and its composition is a lasting influence. The 2-dimensional, theatre set feeling of the street scene is comforting but also a barrier to the brightness beyond.

Today, this is a compositional trope that I regularly employ.

Andre Kertesz, Martinique

Since first seeing this image in the 1980’s it has been continuously influential in two ways.

First, that sense of mystery and narrative created by the shadowy figure which became the primary inspiration for, and the subsequent direction of my BA final degree project after I came across this scene at Tyntesfield House in Bristol.

Secondly, Kertesz’s seeing and using such strong geometrical shapes results, like in the Magritte painting, in a 2-dimensional impression. There seems to be almost no depth between the handrail and the horizon.

Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea

The attraction of this painting is a mixture of the strange, perhaps impossible juxtaposition of the sea and the rooms, plus the 2-dimensional geometric shapes.

Although it is possible to see depth in the image when looking into the second room, most of the majority of the picture is easily be viewed as being 2-dimensional, without any depth. I was so inspired by this painting that trying to reproduce such a strange, inside/ outside, impression was the first thing I tried when I acquired Photoshop in 2003.

Hopper’s works all have a quiet, stillness to them where the viewer can feel like they are being invasive, as if we shouldn’t be looking at the scene. When Hopper’s paintings include people, they are always in private, reflective moments and so the viewer is inevitably a voyeur. Yet, for me, even when there are no people, as above, it still feels like I, the viewer, am an intruder and should not be there. I find that an interesting effect as that is often how I react when I am on-location for my own images. I am always a visitor who is not wholly sure they are welcome.

The next artist who started to influence my work is Andrew Wyeth. His landscapes are very much the landscapes that appeal to me, often wide open, remote and sparsely populated. His works also capture a quiet, stillness, a sense of solitude, even loneliness, especially so in this painting of “Christina’s World”.

The refuge of the house and barn are far off for Christina and she appears to be pleading with them to be noticed. However, the barn has no windows and so is blind and the house has all its windows facing the other way. Neither can see her. Wyeth’s apparently simple compositions are capable of evoking extensive narratives as shown in the next two of his paintings. Unlike Christina’s World, these painting have very little depth to them. They are quite 2-dimensional in appearance.

Without knowing even, the titles of these paintings the viewer is encouraged to make up stories about who, why and how they came to be.

It was the colours, shapes and flat perspective of this scene in Puglia that reminded me of the Wyeth painting and encouraged me to press the shutter. And, like the Wyeth picture there is a lot of narrative potential in the scene.

Although I enjoy much of the work by both Magritte and Kertesz not all excites to the same degree at the images shown above. For images where my primary response has been humour, I am less likely to be inspired by them, even when the narrative potential is significant. As when spectacle (visual drama) is my primary response, humour also tends to be a block to my further investigation into the image’s meanings.

These below, from Kertesz and Magritte, respectively, are such examples.


The juxtapositions of man-made objects and their landscape that encourage narratives and or create a surreal 2-dimensional visual effect have been key drivers for my enjoyment of paintings and photographs for over 40 years but only now am I starting to understand their significance.



What is Beauty?

Beauty is a word I often use to describe how I feel about a landscape image, but it does not have a single meaning. It means different things for different people and it means different things to me depending upon the content and context of the scene.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of beauty is the one I feel comes closest to my own view, largely because it does not default to including references to the female form as most others do.

“A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”


“A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.” viewed on 09/04/2018

Below I have developed a tree of my own ideas on the sources of beauty I see in my landscape images.

  • Beauty
    • 1st Order – one that is generally understood and shared within a single culture
      • Visual
        • Aesthetically pleasing combinations of Shapes, Lines, Colours
      • Mood
        • For example – A scene that evokes feelings of Calm, Solitude, Silence, etc.
    • 2nd Order – a perception of beauty that depends upon the history, education and experiences in addition to the culture of the individual viewer.
      • Meaning
        • Something to be admired
          • For example – appreciating the ability of humans to make a living in such a harsh, remote environment.
        • A powerful narrative
          • For example – Dereliction can evoke powerful narratives in the viewer about the people who formerly lived there.
      • Humour
        • Where an object appears out of place or changes its meaning due to its relationships to the environment around it.
          • For example – something banal that appears like it might be a deliberate, art installation

So, Beauty is a complex concept with multiple meanings and the above is not yet an exhaustive analysis of my own thoughts. Given that a key aim is to make visible, to other viewers, the beauty that I perceived in the scene when making the image I may have to find different methods depending upon the type of beauty I see. In turn this means I must be able to articulate what aspects of beauty I am trying to show, at the time of making the image.

What do I see in my images?

Alan Thomson suggested that you would find it interesting if I described, in more detail, what I see in my images and why I took them. So, here’s deconstructions for a couple of photos I took recently.

Of course, the lighting was stunning for this image. Any photo of these turbines would have been good but why did I choose this arrangement?

I have often imagined windfarms as invading armies, a bit in the “War of the Worlds” style. I chose this arrangement because the front turbine is definitely the one in charge and the other 4 are like a line of following squaddies. The front turbine is also raised up on a, well lit, dais giving it further authority. Also, the curving steps and the balcony made me think of a pulpit and the place from which the invaded would receive instructions. This was also why I chose a low viewpoint, emphasising its power.

Finally, the dark storm clouds behind speak of what’s about to come.

This is what I mean by my photography being driven by narrative. I usually start with just an intuition but then the narrative develops as I think about the scene.

Now for a more abstract narrative.

This first appealed because of the ambiguity of the scene. I saw (as I seem to do quite often) that the concrete block and metal bars could be interpreted as an artist’s installation, deliberately placed in this environment. By making it large and placing it in the middle of the frame I have given it a significance which, hopefully, asks the viewer to think of it as a piece of art rather than the banal object that it is.

That is the same reasoning I used when I chose to assemble my exhibition images with large white borders in good quality white frames. It’s a variation on the concept of “all fur coat and nae knickers”.

However, this image has a far greater meaning for me than would be obvious to any viewer. That is because of the lighting and the colours. The greens in the grasses and the bright, pale skies remind me of the colours and mood of a Rupert Bear annual from the 1950’s. When I was taking images in this location I was very calm, quiet and absorbed in the moment, just like, as a child, reading Rupert Bear books. In this image I have captured my emotions of the moment, but I doubt anyone else would get that.

My point in writing this piece is to show that there is a lot more depth to be found in photography if you can get below the surface of the scene and ask yourself why it appeals and what it means to you rather than just accepting that it does and pressing the shutter.

Old Banal images

I was going through some of my old images, from around 10 years ago, when I realised just how my focus, even then, was on the banal human constructs in the landscape.

Most of the following images were taken in and around the village of Sharpness in Gloucestershire. Sharpness is effectively an island with just two small bridges giving access to the outside world. It is a strange place, a mix of industrial, docklands and just 19 houses where humans are definitely there but rarely seen. It feels like the “Marie Celeste” of villages.

This grain tower dominates the whole of Sharpness and there are hardly any places from which you cannot see it.

There is a pub in the outskirts of the village, isolated, with no houses nearby. The image above was my attempt to show this isolation. As usual, the roads are completely empty.

In the image above, I was trying to show the traces of former activity but the current absence of anything moving. The roundabout is a metaphor for being at the end of the road, with the arrows implying no escape, just endless rotation. This really captures how I feel about the place. It is post-apocalyptic, somewhere at the end of time.

The next image continues the banal theme. When I saw the scene, I felt it was also very violent. Again, it is somehow post-apocalyptic with just the largest, now isolated, trees surviving after the hedge was attacked.

The following, captured on the outskirts of Weston super Mare, is just ironic. If this is an example of the brave new world of renewable energy, then we’re in trouble.


Banal, quirky, out of place subjects, traces of absent humans and feelings of being remote and isolated have been features of my photography for longer than I had suspected.

However, thinking back, I now realise that these are subjects I was photographing because of the narratives they evoked within me. I could not explain myself at the time. I could not defend why I had taken such banal, some said ugly, images yet I thought them beautiful.

My researches into my practice and into the practices of other landscape photographers has, at last, helped me articulate my own motivations and given me confidence in the value of my practice.



Cramond 9 – Fragments


It was a bright, high contrast day so I decided to focus on “fragments”, small indicators of human presence rather than the larger view. To emphasise these fragments, I found myself using very shallow depths of field.

This pot was lying in the remains of a circle of stones that had been a “camp fire”. Unfortunately, the leaves have covered any signs of the former fire. I could have taken a wider view and included some blackened rocks but then the pot would have disappeared, becoming insignificant in the surrounding leaves. This lack of context has limited the narrative potential of this image.

This image includes a wider view and so, suggests a degree of remoteness to the building. The graffiti, the missing brick and the bush growing up the side of the building all imply dereliction, which is, in fact, the case.

Overall, I feel this image attracted me more because of its design than for any meaning or narrative. Consequently, this is unlikely to be an image with any long-term appeal for me.

As above, this image includes a wider view that implies a degree of remoteness. There is also an encouragement to narrative with the rust (implying great age) and the rope, also the second, out of focus pole seen in the distance, raising questions about the purpose and who might have installed the pole into the rock.

However, the lighting is such that the image lacks any mood appropriate to the potential narratives. The bright, high contrast, light seems to contradict the messages of the content. In itself, this is not a fault, but it raises questions about whether this image fits with most of my other Cramond images. I think it probably fits better with the following two Icelandic images which were taken in similar light.

This final image is the most pleasing for me.

Probably, because it is the most mysterious. Why is the rope there? Why is it frayed?

The rope is the only sharp element in the image. Also we are looking up at it. These factors give the viewer has an intense focus upon the rope and this could suggest it has a sinister purpose. The overarching of the trees adds to this impression by seeming to enclose and look down upon the viewer. Yet the quality of light implies a playfulness that contradicts these ideas. Hence the mystery.

I wonder how the loss of the leaves as we approach winter will affect the mood of this image? It would be interesting to try it again on a bright winter’s day.


I chose to photograph fragments because of the bright light draining the wider shots of colour. This decision has not enabled me to achieve my usual mood as the lighting is still in control. However, I have achieved shots with added mystery as the lighting appears to contradict the narratives implied by the content.

The detail shots, without distant views, do not suggest the remoteness I normally look for as they lack the usual context.

The idea of light qualities opposing the content narratives is a possible path to follow to add mystery to my images. Limiting the field of view adds to these effects.