It has also been a while since I produced any photographic work, but now the visitors to Skye are diminishing, and the mornings and evenings are closing in as we move through autumn, it is time to start an eight-month period of experimentation and consolidation.
It has been dull and raining for most of September, so I am hoping for a more interesting period of weather. I wake up early to the sound of heavy rain. As I contemplate the day, over a cup of coffee, I wonder whether I should have left earlier – but it was pouring with rain. Maybe I should leave later – but the forecast is not good. Where should I go? The clouds close in and the Islands of Raasay and Rhona disappear in the mist – dreich is how the Scots describe a day like today.
I decide to return to capture the often calm and ethereal dark waters of Lochain Dubha. The path through the bogs is the old road from Broadford to Armadale – a narrow single track, long since replaced by a new, fast road to the ferry for the mainland. When I arrive, the sky is bright, and the sun is passing over my left shoulder. As I set up my tripod and return the settings to multiple exposure, the clouds start to form. I chose this spot because I was attracted by the glint of a decaying water lily leaf, sparkling golden in the inky waters.
I start work, using a slow shutter speed for the first shot, leaving the wind and choppy waters to create their own natural patterns, and render the second image with a faster shutter speed. I hope this combination will give a sense of the still, ethereal, and magical waters of the peat bog. As I continue to work, the clouds darken still further, and the gaps allowing the sun to peep through withdraw but the gold leaf I focus on, continues to stand out against the dark waters. Many of the water lily leaves are below the surface providing ghostly shadows.
Having conducted a significant amount of research into metaphor following the work of Harman and Ortega, and its practical use by, for example, the 20th century American photographer Minor White, this aspect of my methodology is uppermost in my mind. The solitary leaf, continues to peep above the water, long after its fellow leaves have dipped below the surface, as their roots decay with every passing day of autumn. The leaf represents resilience, persistence and triumph. For me, it represents the Isle of Skye, surrounded by water, its people surviving all the challenges of Island life. The changeable and inclement weather, the isolation, the challenges of finding accommodation and employment and more topically, the challenges of travelling long distances for essential supplies. Nonetheless, this leaf continues to shine brightly in a dark and hostile environment – a beacon.
The following images are a selection of studies of the leaf:
I am so excited to be back with my camera, working with the five methodological strategies of metaphor, reduction, fracture, attenuation and activation. I am also pleased to have picked out a new object with metaphorical meaning in the landscape.