Light, shape & tone

Some photos are taken because of the quality of the light and simplistic forms presented in them. They have no other reason to 'be' except that they are pleasing.

I say this because this photo of the beach at Solas in North Uist doesn't really have any specific land mass. No famous mountain range, no definable point of interest. I often feel we go looking for that shot of the Buchalle Etive Mhor, or a picture of the Cuillin range at Elgol because it's an obvious marker. But what about things that are just beautiful for just existing. Dave, one of my workshop participants in April was telling me that David Ward calls it the 'anonymous landscape'.

I find this an interesting topic because I feel that a lot of new photographers and especially people who don't photograph, feel that a photo should have a 'reason' for existing.

For example, I made a photograph of some ice bergs in Iceland and presented it as a gift to one of my oldest friends for his 40th. He told me that he loved the shot but was surprised by visitors reactions to it. He said that some of them were perplexed and often asked 'but why a picture of ice?'. It's as if some people don't understand a photograph unless it has some context for them. Pictures of Aunty Ethel are self explanatory, as too are pictures of an event like a friends birthday. But pictures of floating ice in a lagoon, have no meaning for some people.

I think as photographers, we have to please ourselves first and foremost. If we find beauty in something abstract, then we make a photo of it. I did this at Solas. I loved the textures in the sky and sea at the time and tried to come up with a simplistic composition to let them breathe.

Solas Light

Whist in North Uist at Solas Beach, I roamed the dunes one evening in a light that was strange. It had a bit of a nice mood to it, so this image here was my attempt at showing that light in the sky whilst also showing part of the beach layout and dunes.

To the west and at the edge of the beach, there was a rather high dune complex which I loved because of the gradients and textures on it. I tried to illustrate it in this photo.

Up until yesterday, I was just a 50, 80, 150 shooter for my Mamiya 7II. The 50mm is a beautiful lens which gives a similar angle of view to a 24 or 25mm lens in 35mm format. I've just aquired the 43mm lens, which I'm keen to try out as I hear it is a fantastic optic. Sometimes I find that I want to go a little wider than 50mm, but it's not often. I do find my 50mm lens just perfect for most wide angle shots.

Solas, North Uist

One of my oldest friends from my school days is from Solas, North Uist. He kindly gave me some tips of where to go. I camped right on the beach for several nights.

It was really windy whilst I was in North Uist. It's such an incredibly beautiful part of the Hebrides and I feel I need to return in Winter to get more photographs of it. There are areas here that I only briefly touched.

One night I ventured out onto the beach at Solas facing towards Harris. There's some very fine sand dunes there and the light was something else. I remember feeling it had the edge of a storm to it but with some strange colours happening in the sky. I love dunes and it's always very poetic for me to watch the ferns blow in the wind. Capturing the feel of a place, the sound of the wind, the exposure and feeling of being on the verge of the Atlantic, is hard to grasp in a photo. But for me, my photos are a way of helping me remember what I experienced there at the time.