Although the weather has not been kind to me this week, it has given me the opportunity to improve my camera skills with multiple exposure work and reacquaint myself with a camera I had not used for a few months as I worked on my Upgrade Document. I feel at one with my camera again and able to respond to changes in the landscape that might offer up a “glimpse of the unnameable glimmer” (Derrida 1967). This period of practice has also been important for me to capture images during the autumn season which I was not able to do last year because of lockdown 2 which left me stranded in England.
In these periods of practice, it is all too easy to underestimate the quality of images, the difference in achievement from day to day and difficult to take an objective view of the work as a whole. But after some very poor photography days, I feel as if I finished on a high point in terms of the search for essence. I did not review my images in my first reflection and review of practice so here are a few examples of the more successful images.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a lecture by Len Metcalf, an Australian photographer – one of his collections is entitled Ink Trees. He spoke of Asian ink-based art as his inspiration where spirit is the aim. The images below have a delicate feel, focusing on the reeds apparent vulnerability. I like the sense of the reeds telling their own story through natural movement. They may not be strong enough as single images but as a collection, or providing a change of pace in a series of images for a book, they may be useful. I do intend to continue with this aesthetic, using it in my practice when working with trees and water as well.
Another group of images that I produced on Day 1 may also work well as a collection rather than as single images. This set, again provides a sense of calm and stillness that reminds me of Japanese gardens.
And then finally, I believe that the role of reflections as a metaphor for the object above the water, provides a breakthrough in terms of reducing the impact of the sensory qualities of an object, and opening a window into it real qualities.
Similarly, on my final day of practice I felt I unearthed a magical world not revealed by capturing the real object but reflections of mountains, waterfalls and trees.
I look forward to seeing more of this magical world as I develop my skills and thinking in capturing the reality of objects.
Postscript – Notes from my Field Journal
After returning from the last shoot of this series (see final four images above), I am so excited that I head out again, this time to Loch Dubha, hoping to capture some more magical reflections.
I decide to try my luck with reflections at Loch Dubha. The wind has picked up and the water surface is too dynamic for reflections to emerge. I walk up and down but find little to inspire me. How can this be when the location I am in is beyond stunning?
A comment made by one of my Upgrade examiners came to mind. Can you ever get beyond presence, or something similar [when checking on my return the actual words were “can we ever escape subjectivity”?]. May be, this is a day when I can’t – may be presence is defeating me.
I try to be attentive to all my senses – the colour through my eyes, the bellowing of the stag in the distant hills and the babbling burn behind me, the feel of the wet stone I am sitting on and the smell of cold fresh air. All of this is a conscious response to the landscape. May be I am being overwhelmed by presence? Is it inevitable? Is this something I need to somehow manage, or accept? How do I reset? I shut my eyes and listen, trying to drown out the overwhelming beauty of Skye – the stuff of most people’s photographs of the Island.
The veil of presence is firmly in place and the noumena on this occasion inaccessible. It is unusual for me to feel this way – but creative flow eludes me . . .