Monday, 27 July 2015

Roger Lever – Infinite View

Visits to Bass Rock
Since stepping foot on the Bass Rock last year I have developed a fascination for Gannets and marvelling at the sight of these wonderful birds hitting the water like torpedoes at 30mph to catch fish for their youngsters. What I didn’t realise of course was that some of them had travelled up to 200 kilometres from their nesting sites on one of the 5 or 6 colonies scattered round the coast of the British Isles.

I had six attempts last year to get onto the Rock 5 of which were cancelled due to the unfavourable weather conditions. The same is happening this year and my final attempt will be on the 7th August. Here’s hoping.

Being in close proximity to these wonderful birds on Bass made it a challenge to get some special photographs of them and also the opportunity just to sit and watch the behavioural patterns that they displayed. I took some short clips of film and sound recordings and just practicing using the video features of my new nikon camera.

Spring Fling
When the time came for me to decide what my approach was going to be to the next Spring Fling event at the end of May this year I new that I needed to be more creative. Eventually having thought and dreamed about gannets since that visit I came up with my plan which was to create an installation in my little studio where people could have a close encounter with gannets.

Multimedia was the answer. Combining still images, moving images and audio in the relative comfort of a white room. A comfortable alternative to the sometimes wild weathered, smelly, noisy gannet colony.

The Installation
Step one – to print still images of gannets onto something other than photographic paper. Answer Chiffon??? Why chiffon you might ask? Well it is as light as a feather, it moves gently in the slightest of air movements and takes up the printed image reasonably well. A visit to Glasgow School of Art confirmed my decision and I ordered my first test print. It worked. I hung it in the studio and created some air movement with a fan. Great. I ordered several more all with slightly different images on different sizes of chiffon.

My plan was coming together slowly.

Step Two - Create the white room. The small room at the end of my gallery space was just about the right size. I lined it with the special white paper I use for back drops when doing my portrait photography.

Step three - Create a video to project onto the ceiling. I had the footage of gannets flying above and I had recorded some of the gannet sounds. All I needed now was music to give the whole thing and extra dimension and add to the atmosphere. Son Christopher having graduated in Music Composition at Bristol soon came up with something pretty amazing.

Step 4. - Experimentation. Spring Fling gave me the ideal opportunity to challenge my visitors. In all 180 people experienced Infinite View either sitting or lying in my white room immersing themselves amongst the gannets for 11 minutes. It was so rewarding to see the people coming out with big smiles on their faces. The feed back was 100% positive.

I had nearly 50 different descriptive terms written on my feed back forms. Mesmerising, relaxing, therapeutic, gannetastic, dreamy, and many more words I had never heard before.


INFINITE VIEW from Roger Lever on Vimeo.

Where now? Next month - August at the Mill on the Fleet in Gatehouse. I have another challenge of setting the whole thing up again in a somewhat different space. Between Ken Smyth and myself I think we have it sussed. If you are feeling down and need to escape your normal daily routine. Drop in for a gannetastic therapy session at no cost but your time.

Thereafter The Seabird Centre in North Berwick and hopefully a few other venues.

Roger Lever

Monday, 20 July 2015

Giles Atkinson - Into the Wilderness

Winter climbing in the highlands as a teenager was when I first fell in love with Scotland and one of the reasons my family and I eventually moved here. Whilst my climbing days are over, I still like to get up north as often as I can.

Earlier this year, I travelled with two friends up to Knoydart on the North West Coast of Scotland to canoe from Loch Morar to Loch Arkaig finally finishing at Loch Lochy. A journey of almost 40 miles through “Britain’s last wilderness” which would include a gruelling 10 mile portage and finish with a paddle down the river Arkaig to finish at Loch Lochy near Fort William.

We completed the trip in 6 days, staying in Bothies where we could and very basic camping the rest of the time.

Although a considerable extra weight to carry, I always take a camera with me, the photo opportunities in these beautifully wild places are simply endless. Here are some of the shots from this trip, I can't wait until the next one.

First camp on the shores of Loch Morar

The view from our camp.

The pier at the far end of Loch Morar

The Pier

It's great here!

Oban Bothy

Seating at Oban Bothy

Drying our clothes, with a bottle of Bucky

The Portage

Lochan after the portage

Wes playing up to the camera


Halfway along the River Pean

View across Loch Lochy to Ben Mohr & Ben Nevis
If you'd like to read more about this trip, Darren Beale has written a detailed blog of the trip here..

Giles Atkinson

Monday, 13 July 2015

Holly Burns - Storytelling

It is the popular belief that when you want to capture exactly what you see before you, you use a camera and if you want to create something magically impossible, you use a paintbrush. But what happens if you combine both? Trickery.

That is what a lot of my photography is about, tricking you into seeing real life that simply cannot be real life. Don’t get me wrong, I am fascinated by fantasy, but I don’t create these works simply because I can technically. Behind all of my images is a concept. I hold the story within an image much higher in regard than the execution in which it has been created. Within all art, whether it be music; painting, sculpture, photography or film, there is almost always a story attached, a concept, a theory or a visual thought process. It is these stories that make us feel connected to certain music lyrics, or book writings or artwork.

So how can we begin to tell a story?

Within writing, we are given clues in how to visualise a scenario. We might be told of beautiful white sand, a long calm stretch of turquoise water and little huts that provide some shade from the sun. We are given literal guidance to create in our minds the picture in which the author wishes us to imagine.

Photography can be the very same but in the opposite order.

We are given first the visual image and then begin to search for the story after. To do this we look for context. We are looking for the visual ‘words’ as it were to understand the story we are being told. We identify the location, the clothing, the pose, the colours, the props used and from that we build a dialogue that forms a story.

The beauty of art is that we don’t always come to the same conclusion as to what the story is. We each see the photograph or art piece and come up with a story that is based on our own experiences, making it relevant to ourselves, making it meaningful.

Holly Burns

Monday, 6 July 2015

Tom Langlands - About Tern

As the saying goes - every cloud has a silver lining. That proved to be the case recently when Allan Wright, Roger Lever and I, all from the Galloway Photographic Collective, headed off on a long planned trip to St Kilda, the most westerly part of the British Isles. After a long journey from Dumfries and Galloway to Uig on Skye and then over on the ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris we headed down the west coast of Harris only to be confronted by seas you could have surfed in! We had a boat booked in Leverburgh on the south of Harris to take us over to St Kilda the following morning. The gods had other plans! The weather threw everything at us and looking out over the rather large swell of the Atlantic to the distant speck that was St Kilda I was glad - in a strange, sea-sickness kind of way - that the skipper of the boat announced he couldn't take us out on account of the weather.

Rather than waste the trip we decided to do what photographers do and spend a few days taking photographs around Harris. It was a slow start and with the weather hitting us with everything it was hard to get motivated. My passion is nature and wildlife photography and there wasn't much wildlife showing in the cold, strong winds and rainy squalls.

Slightly disheartened on the wildlife front we took a walk along a deserted Harris beach and encountered a group of arctic terns soaring, diving and engaging with each other in the sky overhead. This was what I had been looking for. It was great fun and also a challenge.

The birds moved fast in flight and when they engaged with each other it tended to be quick bursts of action that weren't easy to capture. There were also exposure problems with the very bright sky and I wanted to keep the birds white and bright reflecting their distinctive arctic-white plumage.

I tried hard to capture the poetic and balletic interaction between the birds.

All in all, it was not the trip that had been planned but it certainly wasn't a wasted journey by any means.

Tom Langlands