My Ordinary Month #1

Well it’s been nearly a year and a half since I last posted My Ordinary Week and have been wanting to start it up again for a while. This time I plan to post it monthly though, which I hope will mean there will be slightly more photographic content worthy of inclusion. It will still be very much Ordinary as before so please keep your expectations low if you plan to follow along.

So I’m starting off with the month of February which was very much a mixed bag with huge extremes when it comes to weather. We saw a beautiful spell of wintery weather throughout the country at the start of the month then ending in record breaking highs by the latter stages.

It was a frustrating time for me when the weather hit the lows at the beginning of the month. With high pressure and freezing temperatures it was a recipe for beautiful conditions, we were not disappointed either. From Monday to Friday there was hoar frost, snow, freezing fog and clear skies providing soft filtered low light but much more predictable was my luck. Usually I get time off through the week at some point either due to my shift times or having a day off. But for this week I was training and in Monday to Friday dayshift, missing just about all of it. For those who don’t know, I am a freight train driver so to rub salt in the wounds I was travelling through the beautiful countryside each morning, watching it change and improve each hour. Although there was one opportunity that I did not pass up. On the Friday I managed to get away an hour early and headed straight to a location I had passed in the train and often photographed. Forty minutes had passed since I had travelled through it on the train so I was not sure the conditions would still be as good. For once though I caught a bit of fortune and managed to capture a few shots before the light and mist had gone.

It was a frantic hour but having walked this area often and photographed lots of it before, I was aware of where I wanted to go and saved me from just wandering, hoping for something to capture.

With the snow staying around for a bit I had arrange to meet up with the very talented Euan Ross, a Glasgow based photographer I was introduced to through twitter. Being less familiar with the Leadhills area of South Lanarkshire than me, I had said I would try and scratch the surface and show him around what I have discovered over the years.

The day started off flat and grey but the forecast suggested there might be incoming snow later in the morning. We drove around some locations, mostly looking at what would be available if the conditions were more favourable. Eventually we went as high as we could and drove up to Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland which isn’t really that high. But there has always been an area I’d wanted to photograph but had never been the right light or conditions. The remains of an old lead mine, including slag heap and buildings sit within barn hillsides and have always appealed to me but I had always struggled to find separation between the grassy hills and the details of the mine. On this occasion snow was still lying up here and we circled the area in the car before agreeing it was worth getting the winter gear on and going for a proper wander. With luck, just as we parked up the snow began to fall again adding texture and help simplify the scene which can normally be very messy. So we got out in the snow and had a good look around.

It was a good wander and there are one or two shots I quite like. It certainly made the morning as it was looking like a very unproductive one before this so I was glad we kept looking.

The next evening I was honoured to have been invited to talk at Cowal Camera Club in Dunoon. I used this opportunity to drive through and explore a little bit of the Argyle Forest just north of Dunoon instead of using the much quicker route via the ferry from Gourock. With fleeting light and still some snow on the hills I hoped to stop more often than I eventually did. This was mainly because I was surprised how little snow was still around in these parts, probably due to it being further west and the mild weather already washing a lot of it away. But I did find a pleasant roadside view and stopped to make a handheld 4 image pano.

From here I made my way down along side Loch Eck stopping when I saw some potential for future visits, pinning a point to my phone for later. Spotting a hillside dotted with Birch trees I stopped and went for a walk up to see how it looked from high up. The sun was beginning to fall behind the mountains to the west so I didn’t waste anytime getting some height. The view north up Loch Eck was spectacular, I envision this to be a good place to be one morning with some low lying mist, early winter light coming up the Glen and snow topped mountains. Not much to ask for but for this particular time I made do with what was in front of me.

The talk went well with their company, welcome and hospitality second to none and within their purpose owned building they have a great Camera Club.

The snow quickly thawed as the month went on, with fluctuating temperatures playing havoc with wildlife and plant life. It was also fairly grey for a while too bringing lots of rain and little light but I did make one journey north for a brief morning to the Trossachs when I had a few hours spare from work and the kids were at school. Hoping for some mist as the rain lifted early I was instead greeted with more typical torrential downpours, so there was only time to capture a shot I have a few of but find it hard to pass when the scene sits so perfectly in the landscape. I must state though there is few shots better of this scene than that made by Photographer William Dore whose image made the cover of Black & White Photography Magazine issue 214.

It was the last week of the month before I got out again and it was to make the most of some morning fog that was lingering around locally and I had a window between the school run and work to visit my local woodland which is small but very close to my house. I now know the area well from photographing it in many different conditions and seasons. there was no snow or frost on this occasion but I was hoping for at least a little light to filter through the fog as it began to lift.

Finally you’ll be happy to know, (if you’ve made it this far) my last outing was when I made the most of working away in Aberdeen. While driving up I stopped at a location I pass while working many times, near Perth and have thought there could be some potential in certain conditions. My problem was that I had never had the chance to scout the area and find parking and the best route to where I would want to shoot from. So I took this opportunity to do just that and once again pinned the info to my phone for later. I also like to get out and walk when driving work vans for long periods because I seem to find my knee/hamstring tightens up if I don’t, ever since my last operation on it, so the recce was useful in two ways. My next stop was Lunan Bay on the East coast which I’ve visited a few times. The sun was setting quickly at this point but I did managed to take a few images with one I liked.

The next day while I had some down time at work in Aberdeen I went for a walk around the town with the Sony Rx100ii. Starting to fall apart due to it’s over use and abuse the wee pocket rocket still takes a good shot and still comes almost everywhere with me. The light was harsh and street photography is far from my thing but that didn’t stop me enjoying the wander.

So that’s my Ordinary Month #1 you’ll be glad to know. If you have made it to here then many many thanks. I see this blog as being in it’s infancy and hopefully it will grow and develop constructively with something slightly interesting to make it worth your while or at least the odd image you can enjoy. I would love to hear from you so please feel free to comment, contact me through the site or twitter. My website is also due an update with my galleries lacking much of my recent work but I hope to rectify this over the next few weeks or more likely months. I do post new work on twitter and Instagram if you wish to have a look in the meantime.

Finally, thank you for reading and hopefully you will return next month for some more very Ordinary photography and dialogue. Until then!