Was it really like that?

Has it been “Photoshopped”?
Regular questions, and not really surprising if you think about it either.

 On the 6th July 1997, I was SCUBA diving near Plymouth; our boat skipper was going to drop us onto the shipwreck of the “Rosehill”, 29 metres under the water. 

He said” if you look under the hull, there’s a conger with a head as big as an Alsatian’s”. Oh yes; really? Most of us, including myself, dismissed this as pure exaggeration. But I thought I’d look anyway. I shone my torch into the darkness, and there it was; an absolute monster, and I mentally apologised to the skipper for my doubt. My dive buddy (no, not Carol) sometimes presented as a “bit short-sighted”…… I pointed under the wreck and indicated that she might like to look. She did, then turned around and shrugged…. surely she couldn’t miss that! It was enormous! I checked: it was still there. So she had another look; again turning around and shrugging. Hmmmm. I looked again; yes still there. I tried to signal with some degree of assertiveness, as we can’t actually talk underwater. My buddy dropped onto the seabed and wriggled slightly under the dark hull with her torch on. How close she actually got to this massive fish, I’ll never know, but it must’ve been inches, not feet. Then she saw it. High speed reversing underwater is really funny, and also creates clouds of sediment….. She emerged from the soup and looked at me with eyes popping out of her mask! I was laughing just a bit.

So what’s the relevance of this story? About 23 years later, I’m watching a Horizon programme on telly called “Do you see what I see”, a fascinating insight into the differences in the way we all see and interpret the world, and there she is; my dive buddy is one of the guinea pigs!

Regardless of deficiencies or inadequacies that you might consult an optician about, its quite clear that none of us actually see the world exactly the same as anyone else. Including big conger eels.

Then you stick an electronic gadget (a camera) into the mix, which is seriously compromised in several ways compared to the average Human (and therefore automatically needs “enhancement”), and it really isn’t surprising that this “was it really like that” conversation takes place.

No camera can see details in the extreme lights and darks of a scene that most of us take for granted. It’s not just colour saturation and vibrance that are part of this mystery.

Personally, I find some of the quirks in my vision remarkable.

Whilst I was doing some (more) shots of a tree in Glenleraig, I thought I’d try to illustrate a point, and yes, you can try this at home!

Find a window with a vertical frame between two panes of glass; sit or stand a few feet away and look at an object in the distance, just past one side of the vertical frame. Got it?

Now close one eye, and then the other….. The object you’re looking at will only be visible with one eye; for the other one, it’ll be obscured behind the frame. But with both eyes open, your brain has filled in the gaps. I think that this is called “parallax error”.

Let’s try another one: Focus on an object (anything, even this text). Now without shifting your gaze, notice what else you can see at the same time? Even words of text about 6 or 7 words away are now unreadable blurs. You know they’re there, but you can’t actually focus on them simultaneously. Same in a landscape; you’ll only see one point at a time. Your brain makes a good job of stitching them together.

Put these two concepts together? I suggest that the result means that you can only properly see a little bit of the world at a time; and a much smaller bit that you might have expected.

Up at Glenleraig, I took two particular shots. They both focus on a rock in the middle of the scene, but they’re taken a few inches apart, just like two separate eyes. Then I overlaid one on the other to mimic what we saw with the window frame. Hey presto, twice as many branches on the tree. I also blurred everything outside the central point of focus (like our peripheral vision).

The result? Is that what I see? Is that what you see? Well, I suggest that it probably is, and you should give your brain a big pat on the back for sorting out this mess and creating the full jigsaw.

What planet am I on today, for goodness sake!

Well, take a look a bit more critically, and you might find yourself there too!

Work in Progress

20/7/20: I have a few ongoing projects; some are working for me, others might fall by the wayside. I have several “panels” which I’m working on; after the success of the Clashnessie Beach Project “Shifting Sands”, I thought I’d have a go at a few more. Choice of site is actually quite difficult; they need to be fairly accessible; not too far away, and offer some potential for obvious change. Covid has put a spanner in the works for a while, preventing some visits, but these projects are definitely not short term, so patience is necessary from the outset. And I need some flexibilty in my head too; for example, the Glenleraig Rowan wasn’t originally intended for this, but suitability became evident. However, I hadn’t thought about the framing enough to predict the one moving object (the sun!), so I now need to be less precious about the frame consistency, or start again!

These projects aren’t finished yet!

Glenleraig Rowan


Clashnessie Falls


It’s now 2020, can you believe that?It has some sort of futuristic ring to it, but it’s here none the less. As I write this, 2020 looks cold, dark, wet and windy. No change there then.But it is just a number (in my opinion!), so maybe I shouldn’t have any expectations.What I do know is that I need to select a few new photographs to get printed for the forthcoming season at Kylesku Hotel, and then practice crossing my fingers that I’ve picked the right ones that someone might like to buy!Shortlisting them isn’t actually that easy; although I might be pleased with what I did in 2019 myself, I’ve got to imagine why someone else might want to have it on their wall. And I get it wrong sometimes.Bearing in mind that a lot of visitors to the Hotel are tourists from elsewhere, I try to find some relevance. Landmarks or views that they might have seen themselves.So this time, I set out to put a little collection together of photos taken within a couple of miles. Well, that’s what I started with anyway.I don’t need a completely new collection, as I’ve still got some very worthy prints from last year, but I’m sitting here looking at 8 ideas, not willing to chop any of them at the moment.And I thought I’d share my thoughts on a blog.
I’ve got four Quinag shots here. The first two are quite similar to previous prints. Similar views, but totally different weather and conditions.

I haven’t offered one from this angle before; it was taken a fair way up the Glenleraig path to the west of Sail Ghorm, and also features a rowan tree and an elusive thing called “the sun”, if I remember rightly.

And the Milky Way was “experimental”, but I like it. I shot it standing on Kylesku bridge, so the bottom of the frame is the reflection of stars in the sea. Sail Gharbh is the left peak; Sail Ghorm the right.

The Wailing Widow waterfall is an intentionally identical composition to one that’s already in print. Except its got snow on it! It’s just up the road from the Hotel. The path to the bottom is only short, but quite rough and rocky. This view, however, is quite close to the edge of a precipitous drop. If you go up there, for goodness sake take care!

Hard not to include a Suilven shot.

Tropical water is at Achmelvich; I was walking along there, and this fella dives in with his three black labradors, and he is totally living the dream! No idea who he was, or the dogs.

And finally, a wild card. A panel of shots, all from Assynt, a nice splash of colour!

And whatever I decide, it’ll probably be the last week in November before I really find out if I’ve chosen wisely!

Post script:

There’s already a spanner in the works. I took this on top of Quinag yesterday:

Shortlist getting longer. Oh blimey.

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