I woke to the sound of rain on the window as I contemplated the first day of an extended period of research, driven by my photographic practice. I had decided for the first week, I would arrive early for my photoshoot – sunrise is currently around 8.30am so I left the house just before 8.00am. As I drove along the road to Elgol, as is often the case, the skies darkened as I closed in on the Black Cuillin. As I reached Loch Cill Chriosd the heavens opened and so I decided to carry on in the hope of finding a spot where I might be able to shelter from the driving rain by parking my car close by. I spotted some delicate fronds of reeds dancing on the surface of the water, in spite of the strong wind, and decided to stop and start my photographic journey.
I had decided that in the early stages of my practical work for the PhD not to be too rigid in terms of the techniques I might use or the approach I would take but instead be experimental. Given the movement in the scene I decided to let nature paint its own pictures. I decided to do some multiple exposure work using a slow shutter speed in the hope of capturing the dynamic between the reeds, wind and rain on the water’s surface.
I set the multiple exposure to merge two images in camera. The first image being sharp and properly exposed and the second nudged out of focus and overexposed by a stop. This I hoped would give my images some luminosity and depth, although it was so dark that I was being rather hopeful. I use the tripod to ensure that some of the structure of the reeds remain relatively clear rather than being over blurred.
Within a very short period of time, I am soaked but have captured about 20 merged images. It is so wet and dark that I am not able to view the images on the back of my camera. Not something I normally do, but when working with multiple exposures, it can help in refining the settings and technique. On this occasion I decide to return home to review my work and hope that the weather might be a little better tomorrow. Ironic given my aim to be out when others stay indoors – I need to toughen up!
On the drive home I reflect on my practice, hitherto, and whilst I would not call myself a fair-weather photographer, I do make choices about whether to go out on a particular day. The decision might be based on the likely changeability of the weather, often providing stunning clouds, reflections and patterns. However, given how wet and inclement the weather is on Skye, it does seem inappropriate, that as the photographer I am filtering out, or minimising the chance I might have of revealing the essence of Skye. Surely, the essence, is more likely to be revealed at a time when most people are at home and when the Island is closest to its natural equilibrium? Maybe Skye reveals itself when the days are dark, cold and wet, when nobody is looking? This all sounds so simple when I write it down – a good revelation on Day 1!
I am somewhat surprised at the images I have produced. I really like the sense that the camera has almost sketched the reeds with pencil or charcoal and the slight milkiness in the water provides a steady backdrop. The movement of the fronds of the reeds provides a sense of the dynamic, chaotic and tempestuous forces of nature.
These images are presented in chronological order and it is interesting to see the change in the light in a short space of time. While there is some light and more saturated colour in the first three, the second trio give a real feeling of the dark and menacing weather. They almost look like monochrome images but I also like the hint of green in some of the reeds reminding us of the last vestiges of the autumn season. It is also interesting, even at this very early stage, to see these images and the very limited and subtle palette, alongside the vibrance and light of the Autumn Impressions.
- Taking a scene setting shot on arrival at the location would provide useful context and a reminder of the day.
- I am excited by the idea of nature painting its own picture and how the camera, through various techniques, can contribute to this aesthetic.
- Comparing the winter images today with those taken in autumn leaves me excited to have a record of a whole year in chosen locations and the significant differences in light, colour palette, movement and temperament.