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Archive for the tag “sea”


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.

Luskentyre beach #1. Shot from below the level of the tops of the breakers from a hopefully safe distance!

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.


Luskentyre beach #2. Wind blowing the tops off the breakers…

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.


Luskentyre beach #3. The blue and the grey and the white…

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.


Strange visitors

Skye had some unusual visitors from opposite ends of the technological spectrum last week.

On Thursday we went down to Portree to see the PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddlesteamer in the world (although she was only built in 1947).  She (why are ships always feminine, by the way?) was sailing in the area most of last week, but mainly from Armadale in the south which is a much longer drive.  She was built on the Clyde for the LNER (just before nationalisation) to operate as a ferry on the Clyde up to Loch Long*.  Paddle steamers are suited to river/inshore work as they can have very shallow draughts and were still in service on the Humber estuary crossing up to the opening of the bridge in 1981.  The last Royal Navy paddle tugs were built as late as 1957 and were, topically, still in service for the Silver Jubilee Spithead Review in 1977.

Waverley paddle steamer

Going for a paddle?  The owners claim the Waverley is “probably the most photographed ship in the world” – so here’s another one to add to the total…

At the other end of the technological spectrum, on the same day, internet and telephone connections on Skye were hit by an attempted cable theft.  I don’t know if we were affected – we were out most of the day, although we did have some issues with paying by plastic.  As the link points out, if we assume it was the usual type of cable theft, with the thieves after copper wire to sell, then they were at the lower end of the intellectual spectrum.  It was a fibre optic cable – no copper there folks…

It does show, yet again, how fragile modernity can be, especially in remote rural settings.  We are constantly being told that the future involves more working from home (we’re doing our bit!).  If we were still in London we would be being told ‘to avoid unnecessary travel during the Olympics and to work flexibly’.  But without a reliable infrastructure, be it ferries or broadband, which means multiple redundancy, so a single connection going down doesn’t take half an island offline, and thus greater expenditure it just won’t work.  [By the way George, that’s part of plan B when you need it – like yesterday].  I’ve been thinking: we get a lot of pigeons in the garden – I wonder if I could train them…

*Loch Long isn’t so named because, at 20 miles, it is long, but from the Gaelic for ‘ship’.

Currently listening toTravels [live] – Pat Metheny Group.  First jazz record I ever bought, back in 1983, when as a double on the German ECM label it cost a small fortune which, as an undergrad, I hadn’t really got!

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