The Journey

Tonight I'm busy editing a lot of new images from Iceland and also Lofoten and I can't help be reflective about what I've captured this year so far.

There was so much snow in Lofoten that I didn't know where to take my group, until one of them said 'are there any beautiful tree's we can photograph?'

There was so much snow in Lofoten that I didn't know where to take my group, until one of them said 'are there any beautiful tree's we can photograph?'

As much as I might want to plan a shoot, decide on what I want to capture, things never turn out the way I expect them to, and that is alright with me. In fact, that is very good indeed.

In last month's newsletter, I discussed the need to not pre-visualise before turning up to a location. We all do it - we've seen countless photos of places, so much so, that it's practically hard to see them any other way. And yet the art of a good photographer is to work with what he's given, and not lament what we didn't get. This means turning off any pre-visualised ideas of what you want your trip to be, because photography is a journey. 

I never know where I will be taken. I never know what I might see, and even though I go back to many locations each year in similar seasons, I still find new things.

There was so much snow in Lofoten that I didn't know where to take my group, until one of them said 'are there any beautiful tree's we can photograph?' I knew of a place, but it has never been too successful for me in the past, because the background behind the trees is always too visible. This time it worked because there was no background. It also worked because there was so much snow in the sky and it was so similar in tone to the earth. 

Perhaps I'll see this scene again next year when I'm back in Lofoten, but I'm not counting on it. In fact, it's better to just go along for the ride and see what happens and where the light and the atmospheric conditions take me.

 

Bracing Myself

In just a few days time, I will be thrown back into Winter. Each February I spend two weeks above the arctic circle in Norway's Lofoten islands, and each year it's just like a winter reset.

Made after several days of looking at this scene. Sometimes I like to let a view sit in my mind's eye for a while before I know how I think I want to capture it.

Made after several days of looking at this scene. Sometimes I like to let a view sit in my mind's eye for a while before I know how I think I want to capture it.

It can be a bit of a jolt to the system, to have to go to Norway at the end of January. While winter is starting to show signs of loosening it's grip here in Scotland ( the days are gradually getting longer), it's not the case in the Lofoten islands up above the arctic circle.

One of the ways I cope with this, is to review my images from Lofoten. It helps me get my 'head into gear' for the trip ahead. My mind is filled with mountains and that beautiful northern light for days before I arrive.

I think there always has to be a 'settling in' period when we venture out with the camera. Go somewhere so different from where we've come from, and it can me physiologically challenging.

But today I've been thinking about the image at the top of this post. It is the view from my friend Camilla's spare bedroom. Camilla lives in the beautiful town of Reine, and her home is situated on the very edge of Reinefjorden. It's one of the most amazing views in the world as far as I am concerned, and it's a place where you can constantly study the shifts in light and season.

Making the photo you see here was hard. Simply because each time I looked out my bedroom window, the view seemed to suggest that although there was something beautiful happening every second, trying to capture the essence of it, would be a challenge.

I think some locations can be quite intimidating on that front. They're just so enigmatic, that the act of trying to start, to begin to make photographs of it, can be quite daunting. Start on the wrong foot and you might just screw up. Take the wrong approach and you might find you feel dissatisfied with what you create: often I feel there has to be a right time and it's best to just leave things until it feels right. So I left my camera in the bag for a few days.

The pressure was gone.

I just enjoyed what I was seeing and this in turn allowed my mind to become immersed in Lofoten. I found my mind and my dreams of what I was seeing began to sink into my emotions over the coming days until it eventually became second-nature. 

I started to understand, to anticipate what the winter storms were going to do to the view I had in front of me. I knew by now where the snow showers were going to go and what parts of the mountain scenery would be obscured and it was at that moment that I took up my camera and started to make photographs.

Lofoten February 2013

I'm just heading off for South America today.... by tomorrow evening I shall be in the Atacama at the top of Chile, where I will acclimatise for three or four days before I head off into the Bolivian landscape. But before I go, I thought I would share with you a selection of images that I made in the Lofoten islands of Norway this February with my two groups. I've still got a backlog of images to work through, but thought it would be nice to end on some images before my departure for south america. Lofoten Winter 2013

 

It's always nice to look at new images. It can give one a sense of enthusiasm and satisfaction - as creative people, we all need to create. If we don't, then we feel stuck.... it's so nice to see some of these images become realisations, as I'd lived with them in my mind for so long, and just didn't have much free time to work through what I've shot.

I still have many more to work through, but right now, this feels like a decent distillation of what I encountered last February. Each of the trips I ran had very different weather. The first week was particularly calm with perfect reflections most mornings, while the second week was perhaps more unsettled, but dramatic all the same. I'm now feeling as though I could really do with visiting the Lofoten at a completely different time of year now. And it has to be said that I think it's now time for me to visit some places new, for my own personal creativity. Lofoten is like an old friend to me now.

I'm delighted to say that I will be in Japan in February 2014 for a few weeks, as part of a new project I'm working on, and I have plans for somewhere else in December too. I feel it's time to reach for some new places and with it, new inspiration in order to keep things fresh.

I do feel I've found a very beautiful photographic-friend  in the Lofoten islands and I will be back there next January to explore the more northerly regions of the islands.

Wishing you were here (speaking figuratively about my pending destination of the Bolivian Altiplano!)

Further to this original posting, Erik (see below) wrote to me about his concerns about the lonely tree edit. I often feel it's not so obvious any errors or things that can be improved upon an edit until some time has passed. So it was interesting to see Erik point out something that was not working for him. Here is my rather quick correction to this image. I feel it works better, and would still require a few more days for me to sit on before I know for sure I am happy with the edit:

Lofoten Tree, corrected

Into the polar night

When I started out making pictures and putting them up on this website, I found over the years, that I’d get correspondence from all over the world. When I look back at the early days , I can still remember the first emailers. I had maintained a long standing dialog with them while I was an amateur myself. Over the years while my own hobby turned gradually into my current profession, I had one or two stalwarts who maintained a beautiful correspondence with me. They never seemed to lose sight of me, nor I them.

One of those stalwarts was Vladimir Donkov.

A young Bulgarian photographer, Vlad was busy carving a career for himself, and doing things in the photography world before he was 20 years old, that most of us in our 40’s are still dreaming about.

Vlad would email me perhaps once, maybe twice a year, just to check in, tell me about his own photographic journey. I’d never met him in person, but over those initial years of working on my own hobby and website, I felt I’d kind of got to know him well. To me, Vlad was and is still, someone I relate to because we share the same passion.

Then, in 2009, Vlad emailed me to tell me of his plans to go and shoot images in the Norwegian winter. Oooh, I’d always wanted to go and make images in the snow, and so I thought I would accompany Vlad on his journey there. For some reason, I was under the impression that he had invited me, but we have many jokes these days about how I actually invited myself along on his trip!

So in March 2010, I went to the Lofoten Islands, at the time, a still relatively unknown location for winter shooting and met up with Vlad. He was perhaps 24 years old at this time, and I was 42 years old. I kind of like to think it’s funny how the numbers are reversed. I was wary that he might think me an old bore, or that I find him too young or immature. I’m glad to say that I found a great friend in him (despite him probably finding me immature ;-)

Vlad was solely responsible for me coming to Norway's Lofoten islands in winter, and I think he needs the recognition for being the one who started off what is now turning out to be a photographer's winter paradise. Each month, I see images of Lofoten appear on my facebook page from amateurs and professionals that have been drawn to the place for the same reasons Vlad and myself love it. It is a stunningly beautiful and wild place.

Vlad emailed me today to let me know about a new project - a video - that he has been working on. He’s made a really nice video of his work in the Moskenes region of the Lofoten Islands and the video has been done in conjunction with the support of Hasselblad. The video is excellent, and I just want to share it with you, as I feel it's inspiring to see him out there, in the Lofoten landscape, working his magic.

I think it's fantastic when people realise their dreams, or have a 'go-do' attitude. Vlad clearly has this and is very much following his own path.

If you'd like to know more about Vlad, and see some of his work, his site is called VerticalShot.com.

I'm on the Lofoten Islands

I arrived in Reine, Lofoten a few days ago. Tonight I will be picking up my first group for the next week. The weather has been unseasonably mild, but there is plenty of snow here. This is just a short post to send you all my little 'post card' from Reine.

I've got my trusty Mamiya 7II cameras with me on this trip, alongside a Lumix GX1 (fabulous little camera) and some fresh stock of Fuji Velvia. It's been great returning back to my Mamiya 7II. It just feels so comfortable and there really is something to be said about working with a particular system for a very long period of time: it becomes almost an extension of you. Like a duck to water, I'm finding that although I haven't really used the Mamiya 7II in a year, everything has come back to me like second nature.

I've given the Hasselblad system around a year and a half of dedicated time, to get to know, as I think it's important to stay with a system for a while to get to understand its strengths and weaknesses and most importantly, to see what kind of impact it has on my image making. I do love square aspect ratio images, but I often find that if I'm going that way, I will simply crop my Mamiya 7II images to suit. I just think I'm really a rectangle shooter, that sometimes goes for square. It's taken me a year or so to find that out. Just glad to return to a system that I feel works very well for me.

Image associations?

Ok, this posting is perhaps a 'little out there'. So be warned :-) I was sent through one of those e-mail circulars a few days ago, and in it, there was this graphic/photo of a big fish with a set of little red houses on top of it.

As soon as I saw the image, It reminded me immediately of my friend Lilian's house in the beautiful town of Reine, Lofoten. It was almost an immediate association I made with her home and with the Lofoten islands in general.

I sent the image to Lilian and asked her 'did you know you live on top of a big fish'?

I think the reason why I made the immediate association is because of a few things: Lofoten is surrounded in fish. It is in their culture, their history and there are fish drying racks everywhere you go. So the theme of fish is quite prominent. But what really made me think about Lofoten was the little red houses on top of the fish in the image. They are exactly like the red-painted fisherman Rorbu huts you see dotted all about Lofoten.

Ok, I'm sure some of you may be thinking that I've left the planet here a bit, but not so. If you consider how I've made those associations, you'll see that it's all about symbols. I saw this image and thought 'fish' and 'red houses' and my mind made a very quick association to the Lofoten Islands. It was also an immediate response too, which I think is worth considering.

I often find while I'm in the landscape making images, that there are 'symbols' everywhere. Things that remind us of other places, of events perhaps. Sometimes I'm not sure why I've been drawn to a particular spot and I'm sure it's all subconscious.

But I think it's worth thinking about how us Photographers are first and foremost visual people. We interpret our surroundings by what we see. But we also interpret our surroundings by responding to the symbolic nature of objects we find within our field of view. And often times, these trigger emotions within us.

As soon as I saw this image, I had very warm thoughts of my friend Lilian, living her happy life on the little peninsula, in perhaps one of the most beautiful towns I've ever spent time in.

I think that's just magic that our visual senses can take to us to another place.

If you'd like to read more about one of my 'associations', I wrote about photographing a piece of ice earlier this year in Iceland. The piece of ice reminded me of an animal. You can read that post here.

Looking for the essence (part 6)

This will be my last post for the next few days, as I'll be on the Isle of Arran tomorrow for a week, conducting a photographic workshop. In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you all with this image that I shot in Lofoten islands, Norway - this March.

I love to shoot during the cusp between night and day, as I often find the light to give the landscape an otherworldly look and feel. It is as these times when the light is so special that I lose myself in my imagination. I think that's what we all strive to do with our landscape photography ultimately.... it's that passion for being outside, experiencing the elements that we are chasing. I also have to say that I find I feel very 'alive' at these moments. So I think that's why I love shooting in twilight and just at the cusp of sunrise.

In this respect, this is what I'm seeking in my images: to depart from the norm, to show a scene that conjures up a mood or a feeling that we have. To create something new and emotional. I'm not really interested in whether it is 'accurate'. It just has to have some form of 'essence' for me. In this case, I think this image takes me into a dream-like world, and for that reason alone, it does have an 'essence'.

Variations on a theme (read location)

This image was taken at one of the many times I've been down at the waters edge of Reinefjorden.

I can't seem to stay away from the place, and I've shot it under vastly different lighting. The above shot was taken in February as part of a Safari I was running. We did come back in March too, and we got the light you see in the image below:

Quite a marked difference in light. Partly to do with the sun being more directional, hitting the edges of the Lofoten 'wall', this shot was very much a 'throw-away' effort at the time. But I'm glad I decided to stay put and just shoot. Literally a minutes walk from where we were staying, it was from a slightly different vantage point. But it was the same fjord, and the same mountains, just from a slightly different angle, and with much different light.

But I also shot this image in March too, of the same fjord:

But I think the last image is more a 'standard' landscape image. It shouts 'vista-shot', which is no bad thing, but just perhaps a little too 'expected' for my own liking. I much prefer the first two efforts as in each of them, there is a very strong message that I feel is less evident in this shot.

I think that what I'm striving for in every image I make, is some form of presence, or individuality. Certainly the first two are very unique. The first is mostly a play on lighter tones and calm reflections, with a dominant mountain in the frame, while the second image is mostly about directional, moody light.

Returning to the same location time and again, always yields something new, because each time the location is new. We are reactionary beasts and in photography, I feel that means we react very much to the differences in the quality of light - if we choose to observe, and notice those differences.

Red Morning, Reine, Lofoten, Norway

Just a quick post tonight. This image is of my favourite mountain in the Lofoten islands - Oldstind. We had some spectacular light in February (there's no guarantee what you'll get, any month).

I love simplified compositions and anything that is distracting should be thrown out. You'd think that having loads of stones in the foreground would be distracting, but for me, I'm always looking for uniformity. They all are very much alike, that my eye quickly absorbs them. That, I feel, is the key to good images - nothing should really jar with your eye's movement through the frame. It also helps that the snow is of similar tonal ranges to the mountains in the mid-ground. And of course, the light was spectacular this particular morning. Really something.

Enjoy your weekend. Many more 'wintry' images to come over the next few weeks as I work through my backlog.

Lofoten Islands, Norway

I'm just starting to work through my backlog of images from my last two (recent) safaris to the Lofoten Islands this February and March.

I loved the simplicity of these little ferns in the bay of Ytterpollen. It's normally full of reflections of the background mountains, but when we got here in February, the entire bay was frozen over. While the group were eating their packed lunch out of the boot of the car, I made this shot at the roadside on my Hasselblad.

I love shooting shallow depth of field at the moment. Being able to see through the lens is a luxury for me, after spending so many years working with a rangefinder (which i still love very much).

Anyway, I'm looking forward to going back to Lofoten in 2013. I published dates for two consecutive safaris in February this morning, and all the spaces were sold out within four hours.

I'll be back with more images from my trips, as the days progress. But right now, I'm off to watch some telly and enjoy some time at home. Enjoy your weekend!

Nature does not conform to timetables

Last night we had the biggest blizzard on the Lofoten islands (read Blizzard, not Lizzard!). It was so bad, that there was zero visibility on the roads and there were a few moments when I had to stop the car in the middle of the road, because I simply couldn't see where I was going.

Needless to say, my flight and the following three other ones got cancelled. I've been to Lofoten a few times now, always in Winter, and not had any cancellations, but even the locals were saying the weather conditions were something else last night.

So I'm stranded here in Norway until Thursday, and will be spending a lot of free time roaming around Bodo, which seems like a nice town (i've only ever seen it in the dead of night when coming in from Oslo en-route to Lofoten).

But if you're reading this and thinking 'sounds terrible', then you should also consider that the reason why the Lofoten is so amazing to photograph in winter, is precisely because of the dramatic shifts in the weather. If you want to shoot dramatic light, then you have to do it at the edge of a storm, and storms mean bad weather. They also mean unpredictable weather, and it's this unpredictability that you have to accept (and to some degree - hope for). Things won't always go according to plan and having an open mind to this, and the surprises it might give to your photography is a start, but you also have to consider you might not get home on time either.

So if you are considering going anywhere like Lofoten in winter time (maybe Alaska, or even the Scottish Highlands), it's always worth giving yourself plenty of contingency time to change flights if need be.

We've become too used to having things work on time, and in my own case, I've just been reminded that nature does not conform to timetables.

End of Lofoten Photo Safari

Today was the last day of my little photo-safari trip with a group of 4 to the Lofoten Islands.

These shots were made during last March and December's trips. March's trip had a lot of dramatic snow storms, while December's trip was calm and serene. This February was a mixture of both, and I felt that I captured a lot more scenes that weren't presented to me during my last two trips.

We had a terrific time, and the weather really played ball - ranging from still reflections in the Reinevågen fjord over a couple of mornings, to blizzards where we were still out shooting in the most veiled light. It seems, that just about any kind of light here, is good light.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Lilian at the guesthouse 'det gamle hotellet' in Reine for our stay. Lilian is an excellent host. Good company which I'm sure everyone on the trip will attest to, as well as a great cook too. Each day we had a really nice breakfast and found all our packed lunches for the day ready to go before we'd even got up from the table.

So I'd like to thank Celena from Australia, Mike from England, Peter from Switzerland and Steve from Canada for coming along on this trip - some of them made some pretty big journeys to join me here. They were very good company, and I had a really nice time too running the trip and showing them some of my favourite locations in Lofoten.

Aurora in Lofoten, Norway

I'm in Lofoten, Norway right now, with a small group, and we had a really great Aurora display last night. In the image below, you can see the aurora behind our little guesthouse that we are staying in, right in the center of Reine.

Thanks to Peter Boehi for letting me use this picture.

We're having the most beautiful light each day too. So the trip is going well and I'm really enjoying showing everyone around Lofoten.

Cold & Warm

Sometimes it's simply all about observing the quality of the light. Whilst in Lofoten last December, I remember standing on the frozen beach at Flakstad, and watching the mountain you see in the distance being illuminated in the twilight. The mountain had a ghostly effect to the upper ridges of it, which I feel, I haven't really managed to convey in this edit so far.

But I think one of the aspects about image making, is to not be too possessive of it. Let it be what it is. I don't consider images failures, just different personalities from the ones I'd hoped for. You can't force your children to be something they're not. I did however, find during the editing of this collection of images, that I seemed to go for a more uplifting, brighter feeling. I think this has a lot to do with how I felt on the days during the editing, and my general frame of mind. There was the occasional image though, that didn't really fit uplifting, and required a darker mood to it, to convey what I felt at the time - that of deep crimson tones in the sky and landscape, as you can see here in this photo of Oldstind mountain.

The edits are nice, and I'm happy with them. But comparing them to the images I shot last March is interesting. I've noticed that there is much more drama in the edits from last March, and that is down to the fact that the weather was completely wild back then. I was getting snow and sleet thrown at my lens and I often had to run for cover during the shoots. You can't force your images to be moody and dramatic if the subject wasn't. As much as I love the edit of Oldstind above, it's still a rather pleasing, calm photograph.

So I'll be back in Lofoten this week for a personal shoot, before I meet my clients for the trip I'm doing with them. I'm curious to see just how different the light will be.

As photographers, we respond, first and foremost to light, and that is purely dependent on the elements around us.

Near Leknes

Do you ever have those moments, when you see something from your car window and you go 'ooh, that looks good', but for some unknown reason, you decide against stopping?

I often find myself doing just that, and on the occasions when I force myself to stop, I very rarely actually carry out the entire motivation. There seems to be some form of weighing up the effort of stopping the car, walking back to the location that grabbed my eye, against the effortless motive to keep on going.....

I could perhaps turn this question around and ask - how many photos are made near the roadside? Should we not call landscape photography 'car boot photography' or 'lay by photography'?

The image above, taken just outside Leknes, in Lofoten was one of those occasions where I saw something, and thought it looked like a great photo, but passed on by. I did it several times, and each time I did it, I wondered why I did, and why I was also, each time, attracted to the location.

I have a theory. Some places are very magnetic. You can't stay away from them. They tend to be iconic, and require very little effort in recognising that there is something of value there. Other places, like my little photo above, are anonymous. They don't register in the same way that iconic places do. But they're beautiful in their own, understated way.

I loved the collection of little red buildings on the far left shore, and there was some minimalism evident to me in the space the sky and water provided. I needed to experience this for myself, and so I parked the car down a side road on a sheet of ice, walked precariously back onto the main road and set up my camera on a steep embankment overlooking the bay. I get myself out there by telling myself that it's beautiful to just sit and watch the landscape, even if there's no stunner of a photography behind the motivation.

And once I was there, I just grew into the moment.

Return to Norway

I'll be heading back to Norway - the Lofoten islands specifically, this coming Sunday for a two week trip. I'll be running my first photographic safari out there - that's right - a safari. Don't worry, I won't be wearing any khaki outfits, shorts, with a net to catch some wild hippos, I'll just be giving an excited group of four, a whirlwind tour of the parts I love to photograph in the Lofoten. I do however, have a week before the group arrive, in which to make my own images. I was in Lofoten last March and December and both yielded very different kinds of images. I'm told by my friends in Lofoten (who make up an unlikely bunch - Australian, Polish, Swedish, Dutch, Russian), that each month the light there is so different. So I'm looking forward to that.

I'll also be visiting a polar centre, that specialises in tours around the Aurora. It would be great to finally see it in all it's glory, but well... that is down to the fate of the lucky stars I'm afraid.

Pointy Hat Mountain Mk2 & other stories

Of course, there's always another point of view, or interpretation of the same location. That mountain - Geitelva, across the water from Fredvang is quite a formidable character, and I was always looking for vantage points to photograph him.

Driving into Fredvang one evening, there was so little light, that I felt that I was always reaching for the area of the sky where the light was. It took me to a little outcrop, just across the water from Geitelva. You wouldn't know it, but right behind me, where I made this shot, was a fishing factory. I could hear the loud muffled blare of a radio playing Norwegian electronic dance music. The electronic dance music seemed to accompany me in my car throughout my week's stay in Lofoten - and it was the best radio I've heard in a long while. Still.... from looking at the shot, you wouldn't get the idea that there was a bit of a din going on behind me (even though I liked it, since it kept me company for this 20 minute exposure).

On a different day, the light levels were much more appealing. The cloud cover had gone and with it, the sunrise of 11am and sunset of 1pm didn't feel so short. The day was full of pink light wherever I went and I found it quite a challenge not to rush. I would be at a location, wondering if I should move on soon, because normally, this sort of light doesn't last long in Scotland. Half an hour, maybe 10 minutes.... but here in Lofoten, it was lasting for hours. This shot is of a large frozen bay up near Eggum.

There's a temptation to make everything dark and moody, but sometimes the scene demands a lighter touch, as in the case of this photo of perhaps my favourite mountain in the whole wold - Oldstind. The weather was unusually calm for most of my stay on Lofoten, which isn't what I tend to prefer. I like drama and mood, but I always remind myself there is beauty in everything, whether it's an overcast day, or a bright, almost colourless day like this one. It's really about me bending to the landscape, rather than it bending to me.

Pointy Hat Mountain

I'm slowly working my way through my images from Lofoten, shot this past December.

I love the process. Scanning images, allows me time to review what I shot on my light table. I take each sheet of film out and work on that, one at a time, and I don't race. I don't delve further down into the collection of films until I'm complete with the top sheet. It's a very relaxing way to work. The scanner whirs and clicks away in the back ground, and while it is busy scanning the currently chosen image, I study the ones that are currently grabbing my eye.

And every now than then, the collection of scanned and edited images are reviewed. I use LightRoom - just as a catalog preview machine. It's nice to load up all the images and rate them. Some make the grade more so than others. Take the image above of Geitelva, a mountain near Fredvang (fantastic name for a place, don't you think?). I'm not too sure about this one. I love the mountain, but I shot this under very unsatisfactory conditions. Fading light and a severe lack of colour. It does have a mood though, so It might get through to the last selection, but somehow, I don't think so.

This is the point really. I can't tell until the entire edit is done. Like a story being told, it can only be understood once all the characters in it have been presented and explained. As I add new images to the collection, it feels as though it begins to steer in a new direction. 'Ah, so it's going to be that kind of portfolio?' I'll hear myself exclaim. If the images are overly light, then I can see that the whole feel of the collection is going towards a more lighter mood, but then two days later, the images I'm working on are taking a more darker mood, and that seems to steer the collection in a new direction.... and then I find that some images work better than others.

I feel that making a collection of images work together is all about the collection being 'greater than the sum of its parts'. It should be cohesive, work together, and feel like it all belongs.

That's why I don't rush home to edit. It's also why I let the images sit for a few weeks after the edit, to see how I feel. Sometimes things I didn't see at the time of the edit start to grate. I may be aware that something feels 'on edge' about a particular image, and that's often the sign that it either doesn't fit the collection, or requires further adjustment.....

I'm off to take a break now.

Vågspollen & Uttakleiv, Lofoten

I'm just getting a chance to sit down and go over all the new images I've shot since December. For those of you who haven't been following me, I spent a while in Lofoten, Norway this December shooting, followed by a trip to Iceland. I've got around 70 rolls of film to go through. Here are som of the first I've looked at, and thought it would be nice to share a scene with you :-)

I think these are only preliminary edits. I don't think I've found my 'flow' yet. I sometimes find when it comes to getting back to editing work, it takes me a while to reach a space in my head where I'm at ease with what I'm doing, and I feel I'm building something that fits my mood of how I felt at the time I was on location. Sometimes the edits drive me, and other times I drive the editing. I'm sure it will all settle down in a day or so.

I've spent quite a while in the cold this past few months, and there are still a few more trips to come that will require me hanging around in the white, minus stuff for a while too. Vågspollen is a beautiful place and I had to climb down from the road to the waters edge to get this shot.

I've seen quite a few images mangled by using the Hasselblad - the film backs do not perform in the cold and tend to slip. I've learned the hard way that I need to check the film has wound on fully (it will still take the image, as it's like a clutch that is slipping), and simply give the winder a little help by moving on the film a little bit manually until it reaches the next counter position.

One has to ask - why does each piece of equipment have a 'gotcha' feature or in the case of the Hasselblad system 'gotcha feature set' built in? Only by using the stuff for long enough can you get familiar and overcome the quirks of a system.

I'll be back to show you some more images over the next few weeks I'm sure, as I continue to work my way through the backlog :-)

Moods and Light... Cont

I'm just back home from Norway, and I found it colder here in Edinburgh than I did in Lofoten. We had no storms while I was there, but that doesn't mean that Lofoten escaped some of the mad weather we've experienced lately. There is a lot of damage to the coast line, and some of the beautiful little red huts (Rorbu), have been damaged.

I'm glad I went to Lofoten this December. Each day was completely different in light levels, and this made a big impact on my mood each day. I know we respond to light in lots of ways, and we often express how we receive light by our own moods.

Some days were filled with gorgeous pink hues, that lit up the newly arrived snow. The locals told me that if it weren't for the recent snow, the days would be very dark indeed. The snow provides reflection of light and coupled with a cloudy sky, the light bounces around the landscape. I certainly noticed this, because the first few days there were so dark, miserable even, and I really felt as if was going to be a very long week in Lofoten. When the snow arrived, along with clearer skies, I found the day was so much brighter. But when I say brighter, it was still at the brightness level of dusk or dawn... yes, my eyes had become accustomed to experiencing low light, so any conditions where I saw colour or something that suggested 'white', gave me a heightened sense of contrast, but I knew that the new contrast levels I was experiencing each day were considerably lower than those I'd see normally.

By Wednesday, the sun was no long rising above the horizon, and therefore, it never set too. I had wondered how the light levels would be affected, and thought I would experience a constant twilight of extreme low light levels, but this too, did not happen.

In short, I felt this week was extremely productive and a great way to shoot the most beautiful parts of the day: Imagine a day where sunrise and sunset are separated by an hour or so, or in some cases, it seems that the entire day from 11am to 2pm is on constant long sunrise-set !

So I'm home for a week, but will be off to Iceland later this month, to catch up on some more shooting there.