TALKS AND RAMBLINGS
The wonderful world of remote meetings! During the Great Incarceration of 2020 (Covid lockdown) I was approached by a camera club to see if I would provide a talk about my photography. As unaccustomed as I am... I gave it a go and wrote a presentation. Then I realised it was to be twice as long as I had expected, So I wrote another one. Which means I now have TWO 45 minute presentations available at my finger tips.
If you would like to hear a little about my experiences out in all weathers, hoofing it up a mountain and losing the feeling in my fingers for the sake of 1/200th of a second's photographic satisfaction, or the art of compromising in creative decisions ie composition, drop me a line. Shy as I am, I may be persuaded to ramble on at length about myself.
Email - Pho
Boooo! Rubbish, gerrof!!!!! Only kidding, those are not the testimonials people put on their websites are they? Here's what the lovely people at Falkirk Camera Club ACTUALLY said about my inaugural witterings (reproduced with permission and thanks) - the waxing was rather lyrical:
The landscape of Scotland resonates with the passing of time. What we see today is the result of geological change occurring over millions of years with signs of human habitation from thousands of years ago still visible. The turbulent remnants of more recent millennia have left their mark too and are all around us, if we care to look. This amalgam of geology, evolution and history creates an intoxicating accumulation of inspiration for writers, painters and sculptors so perhaps it’s not surprising that while the roots of photography formulated a little further south, they grew here.
How, therefore, do modern day photographers set about recording this landscape ? Last Thursday, Andy MacDougall explained his philosophies in his lecture Unique Moments Captured. See his website of the same name.
Don’t Photograph The Landscape, Instead, Photograph The Light was the key message but Andy also took the time to clearly state some facts which everyone should remember. The glens, hills and mountains of Scotland can all be dangerous places for the complacent or unprepared visitor. Proper clothing, footwear and provisions plus an awareness of weather conditions are vital at any time of year. The weather can change in an instant and the difference in temperature between the reassuring comfort of a valley floor and the hilltops can be fatal for those complacent and unprepared visitors, including photographers.
Andy reminded us of a quote from Tennessee Williams, “The object of art is to make eternal the desperately fleeting moment“. Andy also described the art of landscape photography, particularly appropriate in the strange times, as “ to freeze the moment, so that others may linger “. The stunning colour of Scotland’s landscape is almost unimaginable but Andy’s photographs of upper Loch Torridon below an orange and red sky were breath taking. Moving to the coastline Andy illustrated how a shutter speed of 30 seconds or more could turn the sea into an atmospheric mist. This technique, coupled with his skills of composition in placing rocks and shorelines, resulted in poetic images.
Andy then illustrated how photographing in woodland and in flat lighting conditions can be handled before moving on to the abstract and dynamic nature of light falling on the sea with a sunset at St Monans being especially memorable. His photographer’s skill was apparent too in photographs looking across Loch Rannoch. Imagine a softly discernible foreground with a fleecy sky at the top, both stretching along the breadth of the photograph and sandwiching the sharply defined patterns of light and water on the surface of the loch.
One of the most striking images was of Cleat and Quiraing on the Isle Of Sky. Near the top of the hill, situated in a landscape created by glacial erosion, and running around its circumference was a deep and particular strata of rock sandwiched in an accumulating land mass. In the background, near the top of the escarpment, was the continuation of that same strata. Andy’s stunning photography enabled us to imagine the force of nature which swept through that landscape yet leaving those now separated strata’s visible. The Old Man Of Storr is a photographer’s dream too and Andy’s photographs are just as remarkable as the first photographs taken there in the mid nineteenth century.
Andy carries his achievements lightly yet he has 4 shortlisted images in the 2020 UK Outdoor Photographer Of The Year. He won the Weather Category in the 2019 Scottish Landscape Photographer Of The Year and has a string of Commendations in that event over recent years as well as featuring in the Scottish Nature Photography Awards. His understated explanations of technique were a Masterclass in his art. From explaining how almost imperceptible features in a landscape photograph could guide the viewers eye around the frame to demonstrating how the simplicity of a few strands of vegetation emerging from a loch could be equally captivating Andy’s spiritual connection to the landscape is clear . His advice to “ wait until the light is right “ and to “ concentrate on the light “ is obviously correct. What we cannot do in these paragraphs is to emulate the emotion brought about by viewing Andy’s photographs, lingering in those frozen moments.