As I contemplate the opportunities this morning, I become fascinated by the gentle movement on the loch. The reflections of the Red and Black Cuillin move forward and recede as the water gently laps at my feet. I realise that what I am experiencing and seeing is the Being of the loch, rather than the reeds. The water is inky black but there are hints in the reflections of its depth and what lies beneath, and indeed what is revealed above the water too. The movement and the reflections combine to give a tapestry aesthetic to the images.
I choose to work with single images, playing with depths of field and shutter speeds. The reason for my decision being that given the gentle movement of the water that double exposures might just merge into a murky sludge. The light is bright but a little weak and so I am aware that a double exposure might also create a rather dark effect. I wonder whether to include hints of the sky and reeds or focus on the shapes and patterns of the Red Cuillin. I climb higher above the loch and disturb a few sheep in the process. They are on their way to drink from the clear waters.
I get fed up with the midges and decide to walk along the eastern edge of the loch. I see the lone Whooper Swan in the same place as the other day. I wonder if she has a nest, but she appears to be alone. I thread my way as close as I can get to the reeds and try to capture the reflections through quite a dense patch of stems. I am not sure I have enough of a glimpse of the patterns in the water. I walk onto the southern edge where a thin surface of ice has formed overnight then walk back, keeping on the move to avoid the midges but they re-join me on the water’s edge and up the hill to the church, and my car. I make sure that none of them join me inside the car as they have done in the past!
I return to process my images and decide to convert them to monochrome. I want to reduce the impact of colour, because on this occasion I want to focus on the tonality and contrast in the reflections in the loch and the patterns of the scree-topped Red Cuillin. Leaving the images in colour, would in my view, return to a landscape approach and aesthetic rather than the Being of the loch. For me, this choice enhances the impression of the depth of the loch and perhaps alludes to some of the secrets that lie underwater. While out in the field, I was particularly attracted to the rising sun glinting on the tops of the reeds which enhanced the tonality in the black and white images.
The images today, focus on the Being of the loch rather than the Being of the reeds. The gentle movement of the water points to this microcosm of nature within a wider landscape and ecosystem, and suggests that there is Being beyond the reeds. There are hints of the Red Cuillin hills, the trees within and around the loch, and limited reference to the reeds themselves. However, these hints of the Being of the loch will only be revealed to those that choose to linger over the images and see and recognise the glimpses of that Being.
I am pleasantly surprised by the results. They remind me of Ori Gersht’s Floating World (2016) images except his are produced in colour and largely produced in post-processing, rather than in camera as I have done.
I would be interested in readers’ views of the effectiveness of the conversion to black and white. . .