July has been and gone. Arguably my least productive month photographically due to many factors not least the early starts and school holidays. I seem to get like this this every year around this time, just very demotivated. I often say it’s because of one thing and the other but if I’m honest those are just excuses, there is plenty to be photographed at this time of year I just think it’s a little break I need to take and this year I decided to just enjoy it and not get up tight about not getting out and about. So this months MOM will be just as ordinary as all the others you’ll be glad to know.
Very early in the month I made a half hearted attempt to squeeze in a evening coastal shoot. Leaving it too late to head down to Dunure on the west Coast, it was no surprise the sun got blocked out by cloud sitting above the horizon just as I arrived and just as the light was beginning to soften.
I stayed around though and played with some potential compositions for when I return. It wasn’t just the light that was wrong, the tide and wave conditions weren’t great either so all in all it was best just to be playing around with no pressure to get a shot.
The first family outing was a visit to the Kinlochard Gathering, a good family day out and this year coincided with some decent weather for once. The small local community of this Trossachs town always put on a good show and worth a visit if you are ever passing, with its idyllic location on the banks of Loch Ard, a hub for photographers all year round. The kids loved the games they got to take part in which is the main thing especially at this time of year when they are off school for the summer break.
It might be holidays for the kids but I still have to go to work so as usual I have the wee sony with me and when I get a chance I take the odd shot of these less familiar surroundings. Here I had a brief look around the Dalziel Steel works while my train was being unloaded, looking for small details and textures within the diverse environment.
I also took the IR D80 with me one day combined with the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 which is a common combination for my Infrared work with a good general focal length of around 32mm on the cropped sensor. On a similar job and route for a few days, there is a scheduled stop for around an hour with some shrubbery alongside the railway that I had explored the day before to consider it was worth revisiting with decent light for IR. I got that light on this day and took a few shots through the shrubs looking out and also from the cab itself, including some of the railway features. It’s always good to make use of any down time I get, even if it is just to stop me sitting around for a period of time and as my waistline suggests I have already been doing far too much of that lately.
A highlight to the month was when the postman dropped a much anticipated package through the door. I have been looking forward to receiving Paul Kenny’s new book O’Hanami, The Celebration of Transient Beauty published by Kozu Books to add to my copy of his Seaworks book which is one of the most treasured in my collection. It hasn’t disappointed with his wonderfully created scenes of nature, displayed in forensic detail. In the foreword by Francis Hodgson, he explains “They are detailed scans of actual harvested artefacts. Yet they are invitations to abstracted thought, not to be told a story.” You need to see it to appreciate if you haven’t already got a copy, it’s worth every penny.
Anyone who follows me on twitter might have or then again more likely not, noticed I’ve struggled to enter in any of the two weekly comps I like to take part in (#Sharemondays2019 and #FSprintmonday). It’s not that surprising especially with my summer lethargic mindset, but I did manage the odd image I quite liked. There was a garden flower shot I combined with one of the floral images from work as a multiple exposre, using the texture from the more harsh environment and softness of the flower to complete a drastic contrast.
The other was a shot made with the kids. It’s summer and all they want to do is play and rightly so. Anyone with school age kids hear the same questions during the holidays, “what are we going to do today?”. Everyday is an adventure for them in one way or an other so I decided on this particular day to let them get into the costume drawers and pull on whatever they wanted. We played around with what they had chosen and I set them up in the local burn/woodlands next to our house and looked out a portable flashlight softbox.
We had good fun wandering through the long grass even if I was sneezing like crazy at one point. It wasn’t long though before my girls started to show signs of boredom which in turn gave me the moody look I was hoping for. This wasn’t supposed to be a smiley portrait, no this was more about expressing that look of “come on dad, what’s this all about, hurry up and entertain me”, the one that they subconsciously give me everyday through summer. The final shot is one I really liked and was very much surprised to find out so did Fotospeed when they chose it as their weekly winner, sending an A3 print on their Smooth Cotton paper of the image as the prize. This made mine and the girls month.
And it wouldn’t be an MOM without a few more shots of the girls. We managed a few days out when the weather was pretty decent, with a day at the coast and one particularly pleasant visit to the Falkirk Wheel which was good considering myself and my wife were still working to jugleat this point.
July seemed to drag in but I think thats because I knew we were heading off to Italy for a fortnight on the 28th and it couldn’t come quick enough. Two weeks of red wine, prosciutto, local cheese and pasta/pizza not to mention good weather. No work to juggle around the girls, just lots of family time with the added bonus of dropping in on a few relatives I don’t get to see that often.
This year I had chosen a new location higher in the mountains than normal which resulted in slightly more comfortable cooler nights and lovely views literally from the front door. Corfino is a small village high in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany it wasn’t long before I went on a morning wander to see what was what, and I wasn’t disappointed when I took a stroll up to the piazza on the first morning and had a look down the valley.
I was pleasantly surprised to see some mist lower in the valley over Castelnuovo, which in this dry season is not too common but there had been some clear the air rain the day before on our arrival and some of the moisture had helped create these conditions. The next morning I jumped in the car expecting something similar to try and get lower and find some areas to play on the fringes of the rising mist. It was very much side of the road stuff but I did find a little farm that seemed worth a wander with little patches of nice light filtering through. The last two shots were pitstops while heading home for a morning coffee, where there were little patches of rising mist dotted around the hillsides and woodlands.
These were lovely conditions and it would have been nice to know a good woodland walk that would have taken me through the early mist and light but straying too far without the local knowledge I benefit from at home would have been too much of a gamble of missing the good conditions while they lasted because it wasn’t long before it had all burnt off as the temperature soon back up to the 30sºC. There was one further morning of humidity but it creeps into August so you will have to wait to see what I got from it (don’t hold your breath for anything special). The thing I enjoyed the most about Corfino and many of the other small towns in Tuscany is the beautiful enticing streets and houses, in particular the doors and windows. I would always take the long route on the way to the local market for the daily bread and meats just to have a look around. The stone buildings also helped kept everything cool too so it would be a very pleasant and comfortable walk even with the many steep inclines.
There was lots of pleasant walks on the trip and even this early in the trip my girls were already showing signs of frustration with me and little did they know there would be lots more to come.
There will be a few more shots from Italy in next months blog, I’ll do my best for it not to be a holiday snap drag but hopefully you’ll return and maybe see something worth the visit. As for this month, I’m glad I got to share some images from Italy as it was particularly Ordinary and needed just a little bit of diversity to bring it to life. I hope you felt the same and if you’ve got this far then I hope you found this read worthwhile. My lethargy is beginning to lift with time moving closer to more adventurous weather and conditions as we see out August, where once more I’m looking forward to getting out and about in and hopefully able to share some better images and stories to keep you interested…….or maybe not, we’ll just need to wait and see.
Well a very big thank you for joining me and hope you might return again in the coming months. As always please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter or Instagram as I would love to hear your thoughts on the blog or on anything else for that matter.