I decide to visit the lone silver birch tree on a whim.  It is not what I would term a good photographic day, but today, this is the point.  Most days here on Skye have lifeless white skies with little gradation.  If I am really to capture allure in my images, then perhaps it will be on a day like today.   I park alongside the loch and decide to continue my journey on foot.  There are a lot of changes from my last visit, two weeks ago.

Most of the ewes now have lambs although a few remain without, their tummies lying heavy on the verges of the road.

Practice Period 13.25 – Alison Price, May 2023 (iPhone image)

The level of the water on the loch is low with its edge a few feet further out after about a month without any significant rain.

Practice Period 13.26 – Alison Price, May 2023 (iPhone image)

The leaves on the trees have unfurled and are vibrant with spring growth.  But in spite of these many signs of spring, the skies are providing a gloomy backdrop to an exciting time of year.

I take a few shots with my phone to record the sights.  This a sure sign that these changes in themselves will not contribute to the allure of my images – at least in my view.  As I walk, I reflect on the many untold stories that have accompanied me on my visits to the loch and the lone tree over many years.  Nature moves on as the seasons change, and place also evolves over time.  But my search is for Being, both individual and entangled.

As I approach the lone tree the Black Cuillin loom large behind it and the skies are threatening.

Practice Period 13.27 – Alison Price, May 2023 (iPhone image)

The tree is perched tenuously on a rocky outcrop and stands right in the path of the southerly winds when they blow, which is often.  It can be difficult to retain contact with terra firma these days, and hold on to my camera and tripod too!  The Black Cuillin attract bad weather and suck the dark and menacing clouds from the sky before relinquishing it to those further north such as the silver birch.  But today, there is a gentle breeze, rustling the newly emerged yellow-green leaves sparkling on the tree’s canopy.  Before I begin work, I take a further shot of the ewe and her lamb taking shelter under the tree.

Practice Period 13.28 – Alison Price, April 2023 (iPhone image)

They show no signs of moving so I set up my professional camera and wait for them to leave.  The newborn lamb gambols off with the mother in hot pursuit.  I settle down to the task at hand although at first, I see little attraction in the sky – enough for me to consider walking back to the car.

I decide to work on multiple exposure images with the intention of intensifying the colour of the leaves, the definition of the trunk and the shape of the canopy, and wringing out any tonality in the sky.  I wait for a glimmer of the early morning sun but am disappointed.  I work quietly and carefully although much of my technical skills are intuitive and not conscious.  Once the decision to work with multiple exposure images is made, my conscious intent melts away and a sense of awareness replaces it.  The tree is fragile and yet strong, demonstrated by its curvy, gnarled trunk.   It has a feminine form which adds to the metaphorical meaning.  It is exposed right at the top of the hill with nothing between it and the relentless weather bequeathed by the Cuillin.  And yet, its leaves have unfurled, and its canopy is reaching for the sky.  It is individually-resilient and yet deeply entangled with the land and the local climate.

After considering the image below for a significant period of time, it seems to me that it demonstrates allure.  The paradox that is the lone silver birch tree – strong yet fragile, feminine and yet resilient, and battered yet indomitable.  Whatever the Cuillin sends its way, it faces it and overcomes – the unbearable weight of Being . . .

Practice Period 13.29 – Alison Price, May 2023

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Skip to content