Friday, 22 April 2011

Making marks

The holidays of my younger childhood mostly involved beaches, usually fairly populous stretches of sand and shingle in busy south coast resorts. But I do have an unplaced memory of a rather different kind of beach, altogether more remote and expansive. I remember the odd thrill, on the homeward leg of a walk, of coming upon my own small footprints in the sand, left some hours earlier. There they were, unmistakable from the pattern on the sole of my sandals, alongside the steady tread of my family and the erratic meanderings of our dog. They were mine and yet not mine. They belonged to a younger me, setting out, with a day ahead of me.

I have had similar experiences since: finding again an entry left some years earlier in the visitors' book of a church or bothy; having returned to me pieces of schoolwork written when I was very young.

All my life I have made marks; traced my name in sand and snow, etched my initials in tree bark and school desks, painted rooms, planted out gardens, written all manner of things. Most of my marks will have been erased by time and tide, most are forgotten and certainly never to be stumbled upon again. But not all. There will be little scratchings here and there; evidence of the passing through by another, younger me.

Several of my friends have recently started or re-started writing blogs, newcomers like me. They have been posing questions: Why am I writing this? For whom? What do I hope for? My answer is simple. I am making marks, just as I have always done. Somewhere out there, a traveller may pass by and say 'oh look, someone has been this way before.' The traveller may even be me. Another me, older and on the homeward leg.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Allusions and illusions

Photography manuals and magazines regularly feature juxtaposed images of the same scene shot with different equipment. Lenses are swapped, filters added, all manner of special effects drawn upon to supplement the photographer's artistry, or disguise the lack of it. The motive may be to instruct or seduce us to part with our pennies, the results may be subtle or startling but one thing is sure; the old adage 'the camera never lies' is well and truly debunked. And what the hardware begins, the software completes. With digital manipulation of images the photographer (if indeed photography still adequately describes what is being done) can achieve pretty much anything from the comfort of an armchair. 'Ah!' You may protest. 'But no amount of cash or computing power can compensate for want of a good eye. Surely the vision, the composition is the key?' Relax, I happen to agree with you, but that isn't really my point in writing this.

Everything we experience in life is through a lens, multiple lenses in fact that are swapped, overlapped, distorted, muddied, damaged. Everything is filtered, polarised, enhanced, cropped, under- or over-exposed. The allusions to photography are limitless. We see, we hear what we are meant to see and hear by the image makers and we are wise to remember that no image, no commentary, is neutral however benignly it is presented. We may be entertained, enchanted, persuaded, disgusted, we may be affected in a hundred other ways by the engineered product but we ought not to delude ourselves that we are being given the truth. A truth possibly, but not the truth.

I like the images I am posting on this site. I have received enough compliments about them to believe them worth sharing. But I ask you never to lose sight of the fact that you are seeing what I want you to see. Question everything!

Friday, 15 April 2011

In a nutshell

'I could be bounded in a nutshell, and consider myself a king of infinite space' Hamlet says to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern adding, darkly, 'were it not that I had bad dreams.' A king of infinite space! Hamlet is quite literally frightened out of his own mind. Sadly he is not alone. Is it only in our heads that space is truly infinite? All that space yet Hamlet could not find a hiding place. Posted comments from N and J and E got me musing about crystalline universes in miniature and about how patterns repeat over and over to the point that they may as well be infinite. I am not quite through with winter ice just yet.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Before we turn from winter

Winter arrived suddenly and with a flourish in Scotland last year. Prolonged sub zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls began in early December. Predictably, councils ran out of grit, politicians blustered and fell on their swords, radio pundits put aside global warming and reminded us all that we are on holiday between ice ages, kids tabogganed on a school day, points froze and delivery services encamped at the border, shaking their heads and putting Christmas on standby for online shoppers. Disorder aplenty and I have heard many a sentiment of 'good riddance' as we put it all behind us. But before we turn our backs on winter let's not forget what an astonishing time of year the dark months can be for those who love the rationed light and whose Amazon packages can wait a while. We who ventured out were gifted some rare sights. Take these ice crystals for example, grown in temperatures of minus twelve in largely untrodden country near Aberfeldy. There will be a word for them in the Inuktitut tongues, I'm sure. If you know what it is, please share.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Thursday, 7 April 2011

River ribbons

One day old and my first follower. Thank you for your kind words, Nina. This is the river Braan, likely one of the most photographed stretches of water in Scotland. From the apt Rumbling Bridge it spills eastwards down a switchback of cascades and salmon leaps to meet the mighty Tay. Deafening and exhilarating, here the camera sees what the eye misses. In the unexpected creamy, smoky ribbons one early viewer said at once 'I see an angel, there, in the middle!'

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Welcome to dysnomia, a world of apparent disorder, a place where the seemingly random and chaotic are all around us. But let's take a closer look... a slower look. Perhaps all is not what it at first seems.