Cramond 4th visit

At last some more suitable weather for photography coincides with daylight and a receding tide. Although still bright (not overcast as I really wanted) the fog worked wonders in helping create some isolation for Cramond island. With Edinburgh and Fife hidden, a sense of remoteness was achieved. As there was no wind the water was also very calm thus adding to the quiet stillness that I want for my images.

As I followed the tide out I took these images that remind me of marching soldiers. Quite a good metaphor given their original purpose as a submarine barrier, seemed quite appropriate.

Once on the island I was able to retake this image.

Without Edinburgh in the background its present day (safe) context is missing and the guarding function has been emphasised. Taking this image from a relatively low viewpoint has also enhanced the apparent strength and power of the gun emplacement.

This old path leads away from a cluster of pill boxes on the north end of the island. The broken glass (to be found all over the island), the path and the scrub reminded me of the Roger Fenton, Crimean War image of canon balls.

The following is the first image of the pill boxes where I feel I am starting to capture the mood of quiet isolation. They are no longer strong fortifications but still seem to have a stoicism and purpose. The graffiti has demeaned them but not defeated them.

Both images (above and below) have been taken from a superior position which seems to give the viewer more power than the subjects.

In the final image I deliberately chose to make them relatively small in the image and almost cowering in the bottom corner. These decisions plus their almost sad faces makes them appear to be cowering, defeated and no longer the powerful structures they once were.

I am reminded of the following image by John Kippin which I read in the same way – “how the mighty have fallen”.

Image by John Kippin, from Futureland.

Overall, I feel that having weather that helped to isolate my subject had a wonderful effect upon my own creativity. It was as if the metaphorical noise of distant landscape had been interfering with my being able to see how I could modify my compositions to achieve meanings in my images. I think that also accounts for the far more romantic descriptions of the images here versus previous visits.

Cramond – 3rd visit

Again I’m dogged by good weather. It’s January and I want overcast skies and diffuse lighting. Instead, every time I go to Cramond it is blue skies and harsh lighting. So I know I can’t achieve the mood I want.

Here’s 2 new versions of the image I discussed in my first Cramond post.

I’m still not really sure what it is I am trying to say about this scene. I’m trying to suggest remoteness, loneliness, nature taking over again but I think I’ve started from the wrong end. I have started with an image design and am now trying to tweak the composition to emphasise various meanings. Instead I should try to start with understanding how this place is making me feel and then arrange the composition to bring that out. But how?

Of the 2 the B&W image works better. B&W is inherently abstract which makes it easier to focus on mood rather than reality. Also it removes most of that happy blue sky look. Hence, most of the following images will be shown in B&W only.

Is this image is all about nature taking over or about the building erupting from under nature? I’m not sure I had anything more to say about this scene.

Here I have reverted to norm and been enticed by the design ahead of any narrative. These remind me of Easter Island statues and they various ways they are collapsing so there is some narrative to be had. I will retake this image preferably on a dull, foggy day (to hide the coastline) and with a long shutter speed to isolate the blocks.

Same comments as above except the design could be improved by emphasising the gaps more.

Here I was trying to demonstrate the island becoming isolated. Unfortunately Fife being visible in the background suggests that I am the one being cut off. The tide was coming in fast so I did not have time to carefully compose the image. As it was I had to wade through water that had covered my route back to the land. Next time I will take similar images when the tide is retreating. Much safer!

Eddie Ephraums – a long term influence

The following two images, from Eddie Ephraums’ book Creative Elements (1993), were and still are highly influential on my work and my emotional reactions to remote landscapes.

Ardmore Point

Glen Coe

Both are taken in large scale, remote and unforgiving environments where  only the tiny element of a house gives the potential of sanctuary and shows that human life, whilst not easy, is at least possible here. The houses are the focal points of the images and everything else is just context and atmosphere.

Without the houses the potential narratives are limited to how the viewer reacts to the environment and the weather and that will be largely based upon their personal experiences or those they have heard about from others.

However, with the houses the viewer can start to imagine the history of the people who built them and how they managed to survive here. It may be a very personal reaction but I find a landscape without some human element to be without meaning. I can find a “natural” scene sublime but that is a fleeting sensation.

The banner image of this blog is a great example for me. Without the caravan it is nothing more than empty country albeit with a pretty sky. See below.

With the caravan there are so many questions raised and narratives to be invented.


Cramond Island 2nd visit

I really got the tides wrong this time. I had estimated that I would be able to walk to the island for up to 3 hours after low tide. No. By 3 hours after low tide the causeway is  as shown below. Consequently, I was left with just one shot to take and decided to do it with both long and short shutter speeds to see how this would affect the composition and content of the image.

Shutter speed here is 1/60th second. My initial thoughts are that this image is too busy however the wave direction is a nice complement to the angle of the concrete piles.

The second image is a 30 second exposure. I also tried 15 and 60 second versions but this one smooths the waves whilst still keeping a little detail in the water. This process has revealed a very feint shadow (at 45 degrees towards the island and starting from the bottom left post) which I believe is the causeway under the water. So the slow shutter speed has both removed and revealed detail.

The composition is now far more graphic and the eye is able to concentrate on the few key elements that, for me, are the composition.