My Ordinary Month #5 (June)

Welcome to My Ordinary Month #5 and my favourite month, June. Favourite for two reasons, one is it’s usually the best for weather in Scotland but this year was an exception, and second is I celebrate getting a year older. Incidentally I’ve just found out I share my birthday with The Wall himself, Donald Trump which my daughters took delight in telling me. This became slightly more bizarre when my sister informed me she shares her birthday 5 days later with Boris Johnson, still trying to figure out what that says about our family.

Anyway enough of this nonsense , I can’t believe I’m waffling already, well maybe I can since there’s not much to report this month. There’s one thing though, this month will definitely live up to it’s name and be remarkably Ordinary.

First up was a little feel good news with the arrival of The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year Book with 3 of my images printed in it. Honoured as I was to be Highly Commended in the Portfolio Awards it was great to see the images in print and alongside the stunning work of many talented photographers and their images of the Scottish Landscape.

Moving on to the first proper outing/recce of the month, (turned out to be the only outing) a visit to yet another area I pass through while working. From my cab I’ve always admired the woodlands of this area in the central belt of Scotland and wanted to explore it for potentially returning in autumn/winter. The forecast was dreich and this was the reason I decided to spend the few hours I had in a new area, content in exploring and shooting for reference only. It turned out the forecast was to be wrong so some light did break through, it was harsh but still very welcome. When on a recce I’m happy just to shoot with the wee Sony RX100 but luckily I had also taken the IR D80 with me since it had been a long time since I had shot IR. As I got my bearings and wandered the areas I had spotted from the railway, it became obvious I was right to come here. There was a great variety of tree species and there seemed to be some nice parts with ample spacing to give them their own space within the confusion often found in these types of woodland.

Another positive was there is an area that opens up with small groups of trees dotting the ruins of an ancient Roman Fort. This area would be lovely to play around in with some mist or fog, maybe some autumn colour and most definitely snow or a hard frost in low winter light, but I suppose so would any area. For now though I just worked with the IR camera to see if there were any compositions I can come to quickly if I return one day in any kind of those conditions I dream of.

An early birthday present arrived the first week of June. The much anticipated book “Abstract Mindedness” by Doug Chinnery and published by Kozubooks. Following the frightening and harrowing experience of a nervous breakdown, Doug has been making images throughout the traumatic period right up to the book going to print. He uses his art and words as a way of coping, healing and understanding what is going on in his head. His images are far from depressing and in fact give a feeling of optimism to me, his words help share his thinking of what must be a confusing and frightening experience. Doug is also donating 100% of his profit to Young Minds, a charity which helps support and empower all children and young minds with their mental health. So if you haven’t already purchased a copy or one of the many special editions then please have a look and consider adding this to your birthday wish list, if for nothing else but to be the proud owner of Doug’s work, an inspiration to so many if the photographic community.

The Book “Abstract Mindedness” , slipcase and A3 Print.

The Book “Abstract Mindedness” , slipcase and A3 Print.

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As I woke on my birthday I was greeted with breakfast in bed, made exclusively by my girls who seemed to make Nutella the theme.

We also took a trip into town (Glasgow) for dinner and a walk around with a visit to The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane before going for a nice family meal, rounding off a great wee day.

At this point in the month my work became very busy and made any chance of a planned outing a pipe dream, so the rest of my months photography was very much opportunist. First up ties in with the above trip to Glasgow with my work involving some travelling and the occasional commute through the town centre between train stations. I always carry the wee Sony RX100 ii so I took the odd shot, putting in some very much needed practice at street/urban photography.

When I’m working through in Edinburgh I like to go the scenic route when ever possible which is also a lot quieter than the M8 and hence a much more pleasant drive. There are a number of was to go and I like to look out for a potential spot I can maybe stop at in the future when conditions are favourable. It also makes me feel like I’m being productive when my time is so limited. One spot I had marked to be explored was a little hilltop vantage point I had noticed, so one evening I decided to stop and take the short hike up to see if it was worth returning to. Going from what I saw it might just be, it needs the sun to rise just a bit further south probably from November to February to avoid being obscured by the surrounding hills. Autumn colour, some frost, snow and/or some hanging low lying mist with warm light bringing it all to life are what I envisage, but if I ever get there in one or some of those conditions is another story. I can always dream. I took a few recce shots for the record anyway, with a selfie chucked in for good measure, I kind of wished I’d fallen while running down to get in position, it would have made a good entry to the blog if I’d have captured the action.

I’ve been doing a few night shifts lately which at other times of year can be perfect for being up and ready for first light, but for now I’m finishing too late and having to just observe some lovely mornings from the driving cab. Very frustrating at times but I must admit there are worse windows in a work place than one that travels through the countryside and an ever changing landscape, so I won’t complain too much. One evening I was stopped and captured some lineside foliage with just the light from the locomotive, dark a blurry but I quite like the roughness of the odd shot, which reminded me of my early film photography as a school student where I’d take grainy shots of anything just so I could develop another roll again.

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I found some time to frame a few images. One was for myself and was the print of an image from Arran (found in MOM#3) that Fotospeed had printed as their weekly winner for the corresponding #FSprintmonday competition earlier in the year. As I usually print Limited Editions of 10 myself I suppose this is a one off 1/1 on their NST Bright white paper. The other was from the collection I made of the Cherry blossom trees for a friend (found in MOM#4) but this from the abstract selection was printed to help raise funds for my girls school as part of their auction lots at what I imagine to be a rowdy Ladies Night, organised by the PTA. The new owner of the print has told me she absolutely loves it and I’m just glad it helped raise some funds for them.

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Late in the month I managed to free up a few hours one evening and took the chance to head up to the Trossachs. The forecast was 50/50 there could be some late light but just getting out was a real pleasure. Sometimes I feel like I get edgy and slightly uptight if I haven’t managed to get out for even the shortest time with the camera, it’s as if I need a HIT or a FIX of the outdoors and some camera time to get a sense of calm again. Doesn’t sound healthy but it’s how I’ve felt ever since that moment I first discovered Landscape photography on that west coast beach back in 2014. Anyway this fix wasn’t too successful as a landscape shoot as the light never managed to break through, the small gap in the horizon out west just didn’t line up with where I was, as you can see from this phone shot. Another to come back too.

It wasn’t a total failure though as I enjoyed making images with the surrounding textures and objects using multiply exposures with the in camera blending modes of the Nikon D850. I still feel that when I try to make these types of images it requires a great deal of concentration during the whole process and I have to be fully focussed as I try to figure out what I want in the image and how to manipulate the blending options through exposure and framing correctly to get it. Perhaps the more I practice then the more it will become second nature and in turn improve the results. For the time being, here’s what I got.

The end of June, and it’s summer break for the schools up here in most of Scotland, so it’s that time when all parents pray for dry weather just to ease the burden of trying to keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank. My two aren’t too bad to be honest, they have low expectations which helps. My shifts can help for times like this where I might need to sacrifice some sleep but it means I can be about for them during the day, not so good for myself and my wife though as it tends to be we are like ships in the night at times. So, on the first day of the break we took them into town again since it wasn’t pouring for once. We took a mini tour of some of the city’s graffiti art which is quite impressive, especially the Billy Connolly ones. They enjoyed a little interaction with one or two of them too.

Other than that, it’s been a quiet month as summer usually is and if you managed to get to the end of this blog without falling asleep then I hope there has been something in it to make it worth your time. I really appreciate all of you who do give your time to reading and sharing these blogs. As always I would love to hear from you either here in the comments below or on Twitter @ShutrRelease and hopefully I will see you here next month where it’s almost certain to remain particularly Ordinary.

I’ll leave you with a few images of the girls I took while dusting down the flashlight and a small softbox. You can almost see the realisation in their faces that this is going to be a long summer if I’m about with the camera, dad’s are supposed to be annoying so I’m just playing along with the stereotype.