Friday, 27 November 2015
November tends to be a dull soggy month of rain, mist, poor visibility, flooding, occasional snow showers... and on grey overcast days it can be too dark to see indoors by 2:30 pm in the afternoon. I don't like November much. Usually, a month to be suffered rather than enjoyed.
Alex had been busy for weeks planing an old pal's bothy weekend trip but with families, work commitments, social obligations and a whole host of other things getting in the way, trying to organize a date everyone could agree on was proving difficult.
Eventually, we settled on last weekend and luckily the weather gods were on our side. It turned out to be a spectacular event and one of the best trips of this year, people and photography wise.
As the Saturday morning was grey, overcast and cloudy when we arrived in the Oban area, after an early rise and sunny drive up from Glasgow, Alex suggested exploring the Island of Luing (pronounced Ling) just south of Oban and reached via the "Bridge over the Atlantic" onto Seil Island. At the far end of Seil lies the narrow Cuan Sound, seen here, and the Luing Ferry. Room for passengers and about 5 to 6 cars for the short trip over. Around £13:50 to cross with car and 3 passengers in 2015. So we did.
Belnahau is one of the four Slate Islands consisting of Seil, Easdale and Luing, heart of the Scottish slate industry for around 200 years, exporting roof slates to all corners of the globe during the 18th and 19th centuries and a source of employment on the islands up until the 1950s-1960s. A massive storm swamped the quarries on Belnahua which was then abandoned as demand for slate declined, and another small island is no longer visible as it was dug into so much the remaining perimeter edges collapsed and it drowned forever under the waves.
No decent photos though as too far away or too fast to capture clearly though I did get a few blurred images.
Here's a great short video of a micro-lite flight over Seil island, the flooded slate quarries, Atlantic Bridge, Luing and Easdale. Fantastic views watched in full screen.
Friday, 20 November 2015
Something different this week as I like variety. In my own small way I try to stretch the boundaries of photography. Not in a technical sense as I'm not that way inclined and haven't the money for sophisticated equipment or the patience and ability to set up complicated engineering projects to capture unusual images. I'm more of a be there in the moment person and just try to capture that.
Painting with photography is something I've had a go at over the last year so here's a small collection of my efforts.
Had this interesting and unusual film in my collection for years and watched it again recently. Enjoyed it even more the second time around. Great wildlife footage shot by Timothy Treadwell, a young eccentric who lived uninvited every summer in the wilds of Alaska with untamed grizzly bears in the Kodiak Island region, sleeping in a small tent next to them, usually alone for months at a time with just a pointed finger for protection. Surprisingly, he lasted over a decade before he was eventually eaten, along with his girlfriend, by an unfamiliar and hungry bear and the German film maker, Werner Herzog decided to make a documentary about his remarkable life. Werner Herzog films tend to be extraordinary and very different anyway ( Fitzcarraldo, Aquirre, the Wrath of God ) and this is no exception. As much a fascinating look at human phychology, psychiatric behaviour ( unlike most people he had no fear of bears or much else in nature) and what drives certain individuals to do unbelievable things, previously considered impossible, as most experienced veterans in the area didn't think he'd last a year without a gun. Also just predates the internet age by a few years and the modern trend for anyone to be the star of their own production online but shows what can happen if you take any obsession for anything too far. Here's a short clip from the film.
PS... The internet being what it is his death tape appears to have made it online but I've never heard it or been interested in watching anything like that as it's meant to be very gruesome indeed. You've been warned.
The film and this clip just celebrates the beauty he observed and captured when he was alive. The Herzog film, which is well worth viewing, seems to be available on You Tube. Some beautiful footage of Alaska's wildlife and a glimpse into our own multifaceted perception and sometimes tragically false understanding of the world around us...
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
As I haven't cycled along the Forth and Clyde Canal then across the Erskine Bridge for a while, and it's one of my favourite bike rides, I picked a beautiful day during our Indian Autumn in October to reacquaint myself with its box of treasures. As you can see here, the canal at Clydebank was looking at its finest, with great autumn reflections in the still morning air. It is a beautiful and very varied cycle run which is why I like it and included it in my Firth of Clyde guide book.
An old abandoned Navy service dock in the foreground and Clydebank's blue Titan crane on the River Clyde behind.
My latest 4th book is now out on Kindle bookstore for £2:50. The Best of Blue Sky Scotland ( Adventures off the Beaten Track) by Bob Law. It does what is says on the cover. A collection of the best posts over the last 6 years of the blog concentrating on remote but spectacular Corbett trips, lesser known Scottish islands like Islay, Harris, Skye (away from the Cuillin Ridge) Jura, Rum, Eigg, Canna, Sanday, and the Isle of May: as well as a range of easy but exciting and varied day walks in the Central Belt, easily reached from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
With over 500 original colour photos and a lighthearted and sunny outlook it should make a good, at times humorous, armchair read or Christmas guidebook for anyone interested in the Scottish outdoors, well away from the usual places people normally visit. As a hardback coffee table book it would probably cost between £30 to £60 to bring out in large paper form as it must be one of the most elaborate, varied, and well illustrated books covering Scotland in one volume, away from the Munros.
First four posts free to read in here to give you a taste of what's on offer inside in one hopefully easy to read and quick to navigate collection. (thus correcting one of the main drawbacks of a weekly blog. Finding good back archives immediately.)
Direct link to book below.