Well, it really has been an interesting past six months. Looking through the new images I’ve recently posted on this site I’m pleased, and even more surprised to have produced some satisfactory work. This Autumn/Winter/Spring has been plagued with misfortune and has left me with a feeling of great frustration caused by a lack of time out on the hill with and without my camera. With the demise of one of our cars, the constant (and extremely expensive) breakdowns and repairs of our other and the lack of means to replace either and an injured knee I became trapped at home at the end of a three mile long lane. To be honest the weather has played its part too with literally month after month of torrential rain and wind making Large Format photography even more challenging and frustrating (and rewarding) than usual. The upside of this has been that, once I found the motivation, I have been able to approach photography in a different way; a fair few new images have been made within sight of or just a mile or so from home. Not one single LF image made in the last two months has involved the use of a car, now that should be the way ahead for all of us!
The area, just West of the village of Benderloch is mostly covered with very boggy grazing land and a shooting estate through which narrow dirt tracks lead to some truly breathtaking views out to Lismore, Mull and Ardgour over the Firth of Lorn. During the Summer months the odd cyclist and motorist travel down the road, perform a u turn at the no entry signs and head back and other than that no-one comes here. I’m fairly confident that the images I have made are pretty unique and will probably stay so. It’s far off the beaten track, requires a fair amount of effort and research to get to and is not plastered all over the image sharing sites encouraging the less adventurous photographer to visit.
Sadly we will only be here in this idyllic part of the world for a further seven weeks as we are relocating back to England. As beautiful and tranquil as the landscape here is it has not been paying its way of late, most professional landscapers I know are feeling the pinch as this recession goes on and on and the traditional income streams of the landscape photographer dry up or become more and more dilute. Living out on the West Coast is expensive, property isn’t particularly cheap but everything else comes with a premium price. Our family trip to see The Avengers on Sunday involved five hours of driving, £40 of fuel and lunch out before we even got into the cinema. Beyond the practical stuff though comes the need to be closer to ageing parents and more important to us, opportunity for us now and for our children in the not too distant future.
Of course I have mixed feelings; the thought that I will no longer step out to absolute silence on a calm Spring evening is tempered by the fact that there will be no midges where we live through the summer months allowing us to enjoy the outside space. That I will not be able to drive the relatively short distance to Skye or Ullapool is balanced by the fact that Snowdonia (perhaps still my first mountain love) will be only an hour and a half away and I will be finally able to visit mountains and valleys that I already have detailed (walking) knowledge of. That living as we do now just a few hundred metres from the sea we will no longer hear the wonderful sound of Snipe at dusk but will far more rarely need to suffer its violent weather which will allow me to garden again knowing that my plants will survive the Winter gales.
So it will soon be farewell the Scotland but ironically I know that that will mean more photographs of it. Living here for the past eight years I have never walked or climbed so little. Running the gallery, managing a website, devising and attempting to market product and tours has all taken its toll on my time and living among the mountains means that I have tended to postpone my photography to get the other work done. In the future, travelling away from the office for longer trips to photograph should hopefully yield better results. I still intend to run tours and to travel alone here in Scotland but now I will also be in striking distance of Snowdonia, The Brecon Beacons, The Peak District, The Lake District and North Devon, all less time by car than Ullapool is now.
Within the next couple of days I shall post a new set of weekend workshops to all of my old haunts in Wales and the Peak District for those interested. In the meantime I hope you enjoy some of my latest images in the gallery section.