My Ordinary Month #3 (April)

Well they say it’s better late than never but we’ll see if that’s true when it comes to April’s My Ordinary Month. Living up to it’s reputation it was a month of changeable weather particularly in the first week. It began where March’s MOM finished with a family holiday on Arran. We had a mix of fine warm weather, plus 20ºC on one particular day which was followed the next day by driving sleet and rain at ground level and snow on the mountains in the north of the Island. Looking at the forecast I got up one morning with the intent to explore a location that I had marked down of interest a few years back but had only explored once before back in November when I was on a workshop run by Mark Littlejohn and Greg Whitton, it’s got lots of potential in the right conditions so it’ll be a place I return to many times I expect to try and make the most of it, but for now it was only about finding compositions for the future, since on this occasion the light and conditions had let me down. On my way there though I did get a glimpse of what is possible if I’m patient and keep returning, when the early light did break through the cold falling sleet and low cloud for a brief moment.

Arran Light - prints available

This image was made in haste between heavy showers where rain droplets where quick to fall on the lens so I had to wipe continuously between shots as I did my best to capture the rainbow as if formed in the path of the next band of rain. I was very pleased with this shot and it made up for the disappointment of the rest of the morning being less productive and more of a recce. A nice bonus was when I returned home and entered this shot into one of the weekly competitions run by Fotospeed under the hashtag #FSprintmonday, it was chosen as their winner and they kindly printed it up on one of there quality papers and sent it to me.

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Arran Light printed by Fotospeed on their A3 NST Bright White paper

It was good to compare this print with one I had already made of the image but on their Platinum Baryta paper which is a favourite of mine to work with. Not easy to see from the poor quality phone shot I took of it and 3 other A3 prints I made for an exhibition in Italy that is a showcase of Art from different countries and this year one of those countries is Scotland. It was through my father that I got involved in this when he was approached to enter a few paintings, he kindly directed the organiser to my work and he then asked if I would also like to contribute. I’ve no idea of the exact details of the exhibition yet but It’s nice all the same and who knows maybe I’ll get over to see it when the time comes.

But getting back to the Arran trip, the rest of the holiday was mostly spent relaxing and with views from the house we rent looking south over the sea it’s not hard to find time just slips by as the sky and light continuously change every few minutes. Some of the sunsets are breathtaking and I did wander down to the beach in front of us once or twice but capturing seascapes is something I really need to work on.

The beach has some fascinating rocks, mostly soft sandstone which have been shape by the sea of the centuries. Unfortunately the tides this year didn’t coincide with the morning or evening light and were rather messily arranged far from the waters edge when I went to shoot them so I tried to concentrated on the detail and texture of them instead.

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But mainly the beach and shoreline were there for walking on this trip and we would enjoy the brisk winds that would accompany the stroll. There was the odd eyesore right enough but some might say the things you find out there are what makes the place real and I’m one of those people, it doesn’t have to be all pretty for an image to have a story. So capturing the odd beach junk can be just as fulfilling in a more documentary type of way.

The outdoors is the reason we come here each year, although the farm house is beautiful and fulfils our every need, it’s getting the time to enjoy the outdoors together that matters. We managed to walk in and explore the Kings Caves on the west coast which had temperature ranges of about 5ºC in the shade and breeze to about 15ºC in the sun. I hadn’t been to the caves before and might return with the camera one day as there are some good areas of interest to work with especially in the evening when the west facing cliffs will be lit by the warm setting sun. But the girls enjoyed it even if it was hats and scarfs one minute and t-shirt the next.

Apart from the odd roadside capture with the wee Sony there wasn’t much more big camera time, the first few days of exploring the twisted trees featured in MOM#2 and the recce with the rainbow capture was mainly it. It’s such an interesting place Arran and one that’s reasonably close to me so no doubt I’ll be trying to arrange a further visit later in the year solely for camera time.

From the whole trip I think my favourite shots are these of my girls and one of my mother in law braving the elements and taking in the clear fresh air that’s thrown at you at some speed by the April winds, there’s no holding this fine lady back.

So you’ll be glad my know my stories of Arran are finish for now and I can get on with the rest of my ordinary month, if you’re still here that is. I mentioned the Cherry Blossom tree in MOM#2, well my hunt for a good representation continued when I realised I hadn’t actually missed their full bloom. It is for a friend that I’m persistent in trying to capture a pleasing image of the Cherry Blossom, she has an emotional reason for wanting a print of one on her wall and see asked if I could help. I’ve little experience in shooting flora but this has become a pleasing exercise for me and with what appears to be a fine year for the blossom quite contrary to my original thoughts in March. So I’ve been scouring the local areas for trees free from clutter and urban distraction where possible and here are a few of the shots I’ve bombarded her with.

You’ll see I’ve went for a variation of detail shots to a wider approach but still trying to minimise their urban setting. I also unsurprisingly shared a couple of multiple exposure and intentional camera movement images with her too. Hopefully there’s something from what I’ve shown her that will fulfil what she’s looking for.

April and May are great times of year with everything coming back to life and fresh growth and colour popping up everywhere.

There was the occasional morning I went out with the big camera hoping for some nice light and/or fog to give this new growth a pleasant setting. I wasn’t too successful but I did manage to get some of that lovely budding green now and then.

Not much in the way of fog but the backlit tree above had a hint of mist and the light was still soft so I won’t complain too much with that. In contrast the next morning I got out there was plenty of fog and I went straight to a location I know now and have shot on a few occasions late last year. As I always have a moan (or maybe it’s an excuse I make) there wasn’t much in the way of light but there was lots of fresh growth to be found here both on the Rowan Trees and the thicker more dense woodland. The fog was thick and as is the norm for me it only started to fade and allow the light to begin to filter through when I was having to head home before my wife went to work and I had the girls to feed and get to school on time. It was still a good morning though and I’m not complaining if I’m honest, it’s just how things work out sometimes and there will be lots more opportunities when everything will fall into place.

There was only one other thing to add to this months blog and that is that on my return from Arran I got in touch with the hugely talented Paul Kenny to arrange the purchase of one of his prints. If you don’t already know his work then please click on his name to visit his site where you will be swept away with the transient beauty of his work. Paul can also be found on twitter which is where I made contact regarding purchasing a print after missing out on some proof work he was selling when I saw him talk a few years back at the Connected Exhibition in the Patchings Art Centre, Nottingham. After some toing and froing as I tried to pick an image from his vast selection of irresistible work I eventually settled on Night Sky at Ardalanish. I was delighted when it arrived safe and sound and seeing it in the flesh was far better than I’d expected. It is absolutely beautiful and backs up my feeling that the tactile nature of a thought provoking print such as Paul’s is just a privilege and as something to hold and feel beats any digital image hands down. It now sits proudly in place on our wall although I need to change the mount so it’s not quite complete but I had to get it up as soon as possible anyway to admire. I would highly recommend any of you that might be looking for a piece of art to invest in, to look no further than Paul.

So you’ll be glad to know that that’s My Ordinary Month #3 finished. If you got through it and still have a smile on you’re face then you must have the patience of a saint and I can’t thank you enough for persisting with my ramblings. I’m already in the middle of the next month and so far it’s been quite a quiet one so far so if you do come back for more rest assured it looks like it won’t be quite so drawn out as this one. Once again thank you and please feel free to get in touch with comments or on twitter, it’s very reassuring to here from any of you that survive one of my blogs.