It is a grey start as I leave Broadford for Loch Cill Chriosd. A ten-minute drive and I park at the church at Cill Chriosd so I can walk down to the Loch and take in the view and think about the photographic opportunities based on the weather conditions. Although the skies are grey – or rather my least favourite of all – white, the colours of autumn are very much in evidence both on the loch and in the surrounding countryside. I have not visited the loch at this time of year before and the oranges and reds are stunning. By the end of this week the colours will be beyond their best. All the more reason to get shooting. My tutor suggested I should be systematic in my work so I am hoping to do a morning and evening shoot each day, record my thoughts and feelings in my Critical Research Journal and post some of the shots with my accompanying words. This idea will evolve as the week goes on.
The reeds extend along the road for about a mile and I choose to concentrate on what I call the “beach” area as the chances for sweeping landscape shots is limited in the current weather conditions.
Wandering along the shore I notice opportunities and try to focus on images that have a range of interest. The first thing that strikes me about the loch is the movement in the water and the way the light is catching it. This shoot becomes about trying to catch the fleeting shafts of light as the sun, or at least some light, is picked up on the loch. By now, it is raining.
Feeling pleased that the weather is poor. I have the loch to myself which is the way I like it. I can take in the experience without being distracted by others. The road is unusually quiet so there are few fast-moving cars to disturb my engagement with the loch. Walking along the water’s edge and picking out combinations of features I enjoy the solitude and quiet contemplation the loch gives me. A speeding car breaks my focus but provides a different shaft of light for my image – headlights. I find an interesting feature. It appears to be an underwater spring bubbling away making interesting additional movement on the surface of the water.
Focusing on the movement in the water and the shapes, reflections and light is very therapeutic, and I find it relaxing. The movement is accompanied by the sounds of lapping water and a gusting wind.
Continuing to walk along the water’s edge I retrace my steps along the beach to rephotograph some of the features I focused on earlier in better or different light. I then climb up onto the road which gives me a higher vantage point and a different perspective on the reeds and the loch. The weather closes in and I spend time focusing on the water movement through the reeds. I am trying to get a feature or point of interest in my image, making it more than an abstract shot, but I am drawn to the movement and it almost leads me into a meditative state. I have to keep my mind on the job however as I can easily fall in the loch or get too close to a passing car. Walking on I am interested by the movement of the reeds against the static and gnarled trees dotted along the shoreside, holding on to only a small number of autumnal leaves.
Wandering back I capture some wider vistas to compare how the light and weather has changed since my arrival. I hear the distant cry of swans coming from the larger Loch Slapin in Torrin. They are trumpeting as they afford me my very own personal fly past. What a spectacle. I wasn’t necessarily looking for views above the loch and didn’t have the long lens immediately available but this grab shot provides evidence of my experience and an interesting skyscape.
The swans, Whoopers, are on their migratory journey and have chosen to stop off on Loch Cill Chriosd.
Pleased with my work this morning I retrace my steps. I have been systematic and I have forced myself to more curious in my photography. I have also started to think about my feelings and experience of the loch.
Journal Day 1 Shoot 2 – 22 October 2018
The weather has closed in since this morning and it has become very windy. Walking down to the loch I am buffeted and find it difficult to keep my balance. Approach the loch I realise I will not be alone for this shoot as a group of people from the Skye Photographic Academy spill out of their van. This unsettles me as I realise I now have to work without having the silence and contemplative space I need and come to the loch for. I wander around without focusing on my work trying to keep away from my fellow photographers and returning to the “beach” area and the underwater spring. Like this morning, the shoot is about movement in the water. Visibility is poor so I focus on the reeds and the scudding water being lifted by the wind.
As I retrace my steps up the hill to my car I reflect on, for me, a less than satisfactory shoot. I allowed myself to be thrown off balance by the presence of others. However, I think this experience tells me something about what photography means to me and why I enjoy it so much. It transports me to another world – a personal world, where I can drift away in my work and enjoy being alone in nature.