Tag Archives: vision

A personal reflection

Landscape and sculpture composite

Sculpture composite

This composite shot is a personal reflection on Scotland, so I’ll explain the different elements.

Let’s begin with the main feature, the wooden sculpture. The actual sculpture is a wood carving located in Balbirnie Park near Glenothes in Fife. My wife and I occasionally pushed our first child in her pram through Balbirnie Park when we lived in Glenrothes. The beach is at Leven, Fife and is said to be the location for Jack Vettriano’s paintings which are set on a beach.  On the horizon to the left of the sculpture it’s possible to make out the small bump that is the Bass Rock out in the Forth estuary. The words are from a wall inside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh and speak of hope and equality.

For me one of the defining features of Scotland is it’s vary varied coastline, dramatically different between the east and west coasts, not to mention the many islands of the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. Fife and Edinburgh are important to me. I was born in Fife and lived there until age five when we moved to Edinburgh. Later, I returned to live in Fife for a short time with my wife where we had two of our three children.

The sculpture speaks to me of the Celtic heritage of Scotland as it very much looks like a Celtic eternal knot and there is something about eternity that resonates with a distant horizon which is what prompted me to select a beach scene for the major background. I also liked the idea of taking the sculpture out of context and giving it a different aspect.

On a visit to the Scottish Parliament this year I was impressed by the Great Tapestry of Scotland which was on display and covers the history of Scotland from neolithic times to the present day. It reminded me that Scotland has given so much to the world in terms of inventiveness in many fields of endeavour which has brought good things to the world. Finding the words etched on a wall inside the Parliament building was a discovery that seemed to echo this sense of hope and equality so it was something I felt I needed to include in the composite.

Seemingly hovering above the horizon is what looks like another landscape of bare trees. This is, in fact, an image of one tree which I turned sideways so that the bare winter branches look like trees rising from this mysterious other-worldly landscape. This, I hope, reflects the sometimes mysterious, atmospheric nature of Scotland’s history.

All the original images were shot in colour but I converted the composite to monochrome before adding a slight colour treatment to add to the atmospheric nature I was trying to create.

It’s a personal reflection, and I have tried to give at least a brief account of what inspired it. But photographs, whether straight faithful shots or created composites, should tell a story. I wonder what story this image might relate to you? If you can spare the time, I’d love to know if it speaks to you, so please leave a comment briefly relating whatever story this inspires in you.

The technical aspects of the various components are below, though I honestly can’t recall which tree image I used in the composite, so those details are missing.

The sculpture was shot on 01 April 2005 at 1/400 sec at f2.8 on an ISO of 100.

The beach was shot on 17 June 2013 at 1/400 sec at f8 on an ISO of 100.

The words were shot on 27 August 2014 at 1/30 sec at f5 on an ISO of 800

The composite was constructed in Photoshop using layers with minimal adjustments to the main image elements.

A fascination

Interior view of Glasgow Cathedral

An interior view of Glasgow Cathedral

This happens to be the interior of Glasgow Cathedral. It could be any but this just happened to be my most recent photograph of a cathedral. So what’s the fascination?

I’ve not been much of a cathedral visitor until I moved to Oxfordshire from the Scottish Borders and it’s noticeable that there are many more cathedrals easily accessible from where I now live; Winchester, Salisbury and Wells to name but three within an easy day’s journey.

There’s one particular thing I find fascinating every time I visit a Cathedral and it’s something that first struck me when visiting Durham Cathedral (more of an easy day’s journey from the Scottish Borders than Oxfordshire!).

It’s not the majestic nature of the architecture nor is it the sense of peace and sanctuary. What strikes me again and again is the sheer size and scale of these buildings created from huge blocks of stone, reaching high above the ground and built in times without our modern techniques. But that’s not the real thing that amazes me. It’s the time it took to build them and that someone had the vision and imagination to begin a project that would almost certainly not be completed in their own lifetime. That’s the amazing, awe-inspiring feeling I have every time I visit a huge cathedral.

What makes it so amazing is I often feel that today, despite our technological advancement, we have lost something of the capacity to have a long-term vision of starting something we won’t see completed. The very idea of this seems to be at odds with our contemporary consumer culture. And I find that rather sad.