I step out into a very cold and icy morning. I decide to walk down to beach level, without a tripod, to look at the shapes and textures on the surface of the water. As I pick my way over the large pebbles and seaweed, I realise that it is almost impossible to stay upright as there is a thick coating of frost and ice. I decide to stay on the grassy tussocks and take what I can from that vantage point. The light is brighter than yesterday, and the tide is rushing in rather than being on the ebb as it was yesterday. This makes for a more dynamic and turbulent scene. I look for flashes of light or glimmers, as the colour of the water changes through dark grey, silver and turquoise.
I decide to take straight shots rather than using slow shutter speeds that, for me, led to flat and ‘muddy’ images yesterday. I struggle with focusing as most of the shots do not have a focal point. I switch to manual focusing but the bright light of the reflections makes this difficult too. I think it is the angle of light on the water and my lower vantage point that is conspiring to make the shoot challenging. Nonetheless, it feels like I have had a better day than yesterday.
That is until I start to process the images. The same bright and angled light has made nonsense of the colours as I saw and remember them, and the white balance levels make no sense. I struggle to adjust the colours. I remember when I first went to Antarctica, I had struggled with representing the turquoise hues of the icebergs accurately and that memory is no help a few weeks after the images are shot. The next time I went south I remembered to take a Colorchecker passport which ensures the accurate representation of colours. It is clear I will need to use the passport for future practice days – it is something about cold winter light that is particularly challenging.
On top of these difficulties, I had decided to work at a longer focal length to focus in on the patterns and shapes of the water and this also proved to be a mistake. I said earlier that my images had no focal point, and sometimes this might not matter, particularly working with abstract images such as this, but today the images simply did not work. They are neither fish nor fowl – they are not abstract nor representational enough!
I am struggling with the subject of this week – in my second supervisor’s words – it does not speak to me. I miss the loch and its environs and the comfort blanket it provides, but I also miss the familiarity of the location. I enjoy being there. I know it well, but not so well that I cease to recognise the photographic potential. It is understated.
The view from our window on the other hand is stunning. We look across the waters of Broadford Bay to the Red Cuillin across to the west and the mountains of Applecross on the mainland to the north-east. The scene is all about presence – full on. I am trying to carve out abstract or semi-abstract images from this backdrop. Not easy!