If you follow us on Facebook [other social media are available] you will know that we have recently been away for a week to Lewis and Harris for a wet week. Our arrival was delayed by over ten hours as the morning ferry was cancelled due to gales which had kept the ferry over in South Uist and which also closed the Skye Bridge. This further delayed the ferry as by the time they hoped to run there were only a handful of vehicles waiting. We finally sailed at around 6:30pm, via an unscheduled stop at South Uist which turns a 90 minute crossing to Harris into 4 hours, so it was nearly midnight when we arrived at our firs accommodation in Great Bernera in North West Lewis.
For the most part the weather continued wet and often windy. Now, this sort of weather can be quite conducive to photography – the dark brooding skies, misty landscapes, that sort of thing. However, horizontal rain at 40 mph does tend to get onto your lens, however deep the hood and I’m grateful that Pentax SLRs tend to be weatherproofed*. So for the most part, photographically it turned into more of a recce for later trips. The bad weather was, however, good for working on the beaches.
Now, I hear you say, if the rain is horizontal at 40 mph why do you want to be on a beach? Fair point, but if you want waves, you need wind. And I have set myself a project over winter to shoot a set of seascapes. I also have a strange affinity for the coast [just as well, living a couple of hundred metres from it…]. Although I was born in the heart of the Midlands as far away from, the sea as you can get in Britain I spent much of my childhood in Northern Ireland where the coast was only a 45 minute car-ride away, and a frequent destination at weekends. And then later, a few years after university I spent time working at a marine station in the Irish Republic doing rocky shore surveys.
So I love beaches [although not hot sunny ones full of sunbathers!] and the shoreline in general. I love being at the margins, at the edge looking out. Which is perhaps why I love the west of Scotland and the west of Ireland, at the edge of the continent, looking out… When I stand on a beach, on the margins of the land, looking out onto a stormy sea I see raw power, I see chaos, I see a terrible beauty, I see a universe that is utterly indifferent to my continued existence and could sweep me away in an instant – yet I am beguiled. There is an intensity that overwhelms the senses and I become marginalia, simply a passing mark on the sands, at the edge, indifferent to everything but the moment. And if I have a camera, trying to capture the moment.
If you do follow us on Facebook you will have already seen two of these images, but I make no apology for including them here, not least because I’m still working on the others! Usual when shooting water I use slow shutter speeds to suggest movement, or even stillness with very long exposures, but here I’ve tried to capture the power and forms of the sea so the shutter speeds are quite high, up to 1/1250 in #1.
I did take some photographs of other things, and one of them has a little lesson to teach. But I’ll tell you about that next time…
* In the days when we could afford trips to both Antarctica and Greenland I happily shot away while users of more lauded brands of camera had theirs seize up in the cold and damp, and in at least one case, terminally…
Currently listening to: The Time Has Come – Anne Briggs.