After a short-lived visit to the loch early morning, aborted because of heavy rain, we arrive for a second time about mid-day to the promise of sunshine.  The ferns I plan to photograph are looking resplendent and naturally over-saturated, as I set up my tripod by a bubbling brook.  I have checked out lots of ferns which cover much of the grassland on the fringes of the loch, and the patch I have chosen to capture stand proud, rather than being flattened and broken by the rain or sleeping sheep and cows.  Even within a landscape of burnt oranges, ochre and umber, their colour and intensity draw me in.  So too, the glints of light, the gaps in the vegetation, something resembling Alice’s rabbit hole, a point of focus, retreat, or cover.  I am reminded as I search for these receding holes, of my work last year at Loch Dubha where I photographed water reflections of trees.

Metaphor 19 – Alison Price, October 2021

Metaphor 21 – Alison Price, October 2021

Metaphor 20 – Alison Price, October 2021

I work with multiple exposure images with the first shot over-exposed and the second a stop under.  I also “edge” the second shot – meaning that I move it slightly up, down or sideways.  I do this to give a sense of mystery and abstraction from the landscape.  The ferns are in the last throes of their life cycle moving towards decay, death and dormancy.  It is a period of transition around the loch as autumn moves swiftly into early winter here in Skye.  The ferns bright green fronds of spring and summer have long gone and been replaced by burnt orange, and the stems are a diluted yellow, indicating that there is little sustenance left to have.  There are now patches of black as the autumn season, at least for the ferns, is coming to an end.  I fear that the next heavy rain predicted for later today might cause their final demise.  Like the water lilies earlier in the season, I need to work quickly to capture their transient state.

Collaborative Practice 21 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 22 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 23 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 24 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 25 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 26 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 27 – Alison Price, October 2022

Collaborative Practice 28 – Alison Price, October 2022

As I work, I reflect on how the ferns are a brash neighbour of the reeds.  While the reeds are delicate and quiet in their demeanour, the ferns are bright and loud companions.  While I would not normally choose such forms of nature, I feel they might provide an introduction to the natural objects which exists in the liminal space on the edges of the loch, and an aesthetic contrast to the subtle blue and yellow hues of my images of the loch itself.  But there are similarities too, for example in their metaphorical value – like the reeds they are vigorous in their growth, prolific and energetic, and resilient against the harsh climate and changeable weather on Skye.  Only the survivors exist here – the reeds, the water lilies (sometimes), the ferns and the silver birch.


Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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