north light

Month: April 2013

There’s an hour before the sun goes down. A cloudy evening but from the shore at Tarskavaig I know the light will fade against the backdrop of the Cuillins, with Rum stretching out on the horizon. It’s a fifteen minute drive, the narrow road up over the moor, no other traffic tonight, pausing only in a passing place to watch the way the light moves shades of brown on the lochan, the dot of lambs on winter-brown grass, a touch of snow on the peaks.

A small crossroads at the township, and a red phone box marks the way to the car park. Beyond the deer-gate, a path leads up over the moor, ten minutes to the bay. Swallows swoop overhead.

picking my way –
a sheep’s track
so many primroses

dusk falling…
the sound of the water
pulls on shingle

to the west
a makeshift bench…
Atlantic driftwood

barely a ripple
across the bay
a cuckoo calls

fading light –
lichen on the black rocks
a splash of sea thrift

The stillness of this soft Skye air – already the midges! Almost dark now, I make my way back up the hill, the images still playing: the blue of the sea melding into blue of the sky, only the deepest blue of Rum, its peaks a jagged echo of the Cuillins, marking the horizon.

Even in the fading light, it’s an easy path back, the red breast of a robin marking the deer fence at the end of the open moor. I pause at the door of the car. The song of a blackbird fills the evening air, perched in an oak tree that’s been bent almost double with the wind.

The road hugs the coast before the steep climb back to Kilbeg. Ahead of the final turn, the wideness of the bay at Achnachloiche and I pull over for a minute to watch the last of the evening light, fading fast now behind the dark mass of the Cuillins.

twilight on water
a line of oystercatchers
suddenly rising

Painted Sky

If your heart was sore, heart weary,

if your eyes were filling with the tears of the day,

with the shadows of grief still flitting around you:

I would paint you a sky.

I would dip my brush in a palette of reds:

just a hint, just a tint, just a streak on the horizon,

a brightening, a sun stroke,

a sliver of burnished gold.

I would place the buzzard waiting,

the perfect silhouette of strong, courageous heart,

outlined, unmissable, against this red painted sky.

I would set the skies rolling in clouds tinged with purple,

moving soft across this most beautiful garden of Galloway,

I would let the oystercatcher fly on the last stretch home

the final turn of the road,

the last breath of your heart,

so you’d know it was sent

straight from me.

If your heart was sore, love:

I’d paint you the sky.

Affirmation (Why Photography Matters)

Photography is an affirmation.

An affirmation of light.

An affirmation of the significance of the moment (this being all we have).

An affirmation of the shared planet we walk on, and run on.

An affirmation of our shared humanity.

Sometimes, often, I wonder why photography matters.

Why I do it, and why so many others are gripped by this obsession.

There of course a thousand reasons why, but one of them is this:

That when we’re lost for words, when we’re reminded of darkness, when the news is full of toxicity, we have a choice towards silence, or continuing to share however humble it might be.

To offer up a painting, a poem, a story, a photograph –

prayer flags blowing in the wind.

Affirmation of what matters.

(Written in the days after the Boston bombing.)

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