I head to the loch not necessarily to take photographs but to spend time in my special place – to dwell and reflect on my PhD journey as I move ever closer to my viva.  As I arrive at the water’s edge I am struck by the overwhelming stillness of the loch’s surface.  This is a rare sight and one more akin to spring rather than the early days of autumn.  The ground is dry and crusted as I make my way to a vantage point a couple of metres above the loch.  This gives me a good angle to watch the reflections of the reeds and also to capture the deep recession of the reed bed beyond.  There is not a whiff of wind as I watch a mallard glide through one of the channels between the reeds.  A heron lifts off with a whoosh as its wings enter their rhythm of flight.  I set my camera on its tripod just in case . . .  Looking through the viewfinder often allows me to drift into a non-conscious state which allows my thoughts to wander and make connections.

From a physical point of view, the reeds are at their most entangled at this time of year, often bunched into a continuous roll rather than standing tall.

Reflections on a PhD 1 – Alison Price, September 2023

Reflections on a PhD 2 – Alison Price, September 2023

The seed heads have turned almost white and sparkle in the sunshine while the stems are rigid and perhaps brittle.

Reflections on a PhD 3 – Alison Price, 2023

The scene in front of me is one I have witnessed many times before and I recall images I have taken hitherto.  I begin to take a few shots as my mind drifts. . .

It is not long before a gentle breeze wafts from the west and the reeds are awoken from their stillness.  As I gaze across to a stand of finer, more delicate stems my slow shutter speed captures images that resemble fine pencil drawings.

Reflections on a PhD 4 – Alison Price, September 2023

Reflections on a PhD 5 – Alison Price, September 2023

Reflections on a PhD 6 – Alison Price, September 2023

In between these stems and the dense bed beyond there are some water lily pads wallowing towards the end of their season.  At times the sun is masked by clouds and the reeds turn to almost monochrome shades.

Reflections on a PhD 7 – Alison Price, September 2023

I work with the camera intuitively as my mind wanders.  I am disturbed from my thoughts, and my photography, by a surge of traffic consisting of camper vans, cars and delivery vehicles all driving too fast for the conditions of the single track road potholed by constant use and yet home to sheep and cattle.  The verges I used to know and take photographs from are all but disappeared, eroded by traffic driving at speed and coming to a juddering halt to avoid vehicles advancing from the other direction.  Quiet, returns to the loch but my non-conscious state has been broken and with it I lower the camera.  As I look towards the southerly end of the loch I can see that a camper van has parked on the grass by the rocky outcrop on which the lone silver birch sits, where I have worked for a number of years.  It has become a popular camping spot and one now heavily rutted by vehicles and littered with the embers of fires and other human remains.  While I have been able to find quiet by the loch and the silver birch tree early in the morning, late evening and when the visitors leave at the end of the season, I am reminded how overwhelmed by visitors Skye has become over most of the year.  Its very essence that I am seeking to capture is under threat.  The Island’s charm and reality is being eroded, literally and in front of my eyes.  For the future, my photography looks to be moving towards finding quiet times, new and even more remote locations but I fear that whatever I do and wherever I go, the visitors will surely follow. . .

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.
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