Gallery of past work

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Monochrome hills

My last few posts have featured the beautiful landscape of Aberdeenshire. At times we have found a riot of autumnal colour; at others, a very early fall of snow that has muted the colours to near monochrome. As I’ve said before, we never come north here in winter so the latter has been a particular delight for us.

Today, the weather remains cold and there is still snow on the mountains and in the higher valleys of the Cairngorms. We went in search of this today up Gairnside to the north on a cloudy morning and found a great, cold emptiness that was beyond anything we’d expected. Under snow, the gently rounded mountains and moorland offered unique patterns and forms and their own particular sense of bleak remoteness that was beautiful but forbidding. It was easy to sense the battle for survival in the harsh conditions of winter.

We go home on Saturday to a very different landscape. In the densely populated south of England, even under snow, such forbidding remoteness is largely unknown. We are cosseted and live in a gentle landscape with neighbours close by and help easy to summon. When we hear that the snow gates on the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul are closed, we will understand more fully! 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Wild and wintery weather

The last two or three days have seen a blast of cold air from the arctic and the disappearance of those mild sunny days and lovely autumn colours of my last two posts.

There was a hint of this in Aberdeen on Friday. After a brief shopping trip, we headed to the sea front to drive along the esplanade as we like to do. Looking east as we drove all seemed relatively peaceful if cold.

Then we stopped, parked and got out of the car hoping to walk a little along the sea front. Before that, we turned to look west at the outline of the city only and were met by a sudden blast of ice cold wind and sleet and these dramatic clouds. 

Yesterday we drove inland along the Dee Valley, heading for Braemar and beyond. It was cold and sunny and there was a very slight suggestion of something icy on our lawn. We should have guessed what was in store for us. As we drove, the snow gradually increased until in some places it was covering the road and the trees were weighed down with it. 

By the time we reached Braemar, the temperature was 0*C and roads were slippery. While this is not cold by the standard of many places, for Scotland at the end of October, it is exceptional. We are never here in the winter so for us this was a rare and beautiful treat. The town looked enchanting. 

We then drove a little way out of town and towards the Devil’s Elbow (a pass over the mountains). This had been closed earlier in the day but was now open and allowed us to see the snow covered mountains from higher up. Again, it was beautiful.

I have always wanted to see this area that I love so much covered in snow so this has been a real treat. The most extraordinary thing about what we saw (perhaps not shown to best advantage in these photos) is the fact that so many of the trees were still in autumn leaf.  This gave the slightly eerie feeling of being in two seasons at once - and beautiful colour combinations, usually not seen.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Reflections on autumn

When walking in the grounds of Crathes Castle west of Aberdeen yesterday afternoon, we came upon   these lovely reflections. The lake was mirror calm and the sun was shining. What pleasure it was!

Here a couple of rogue branches imposing themselves on my photo seem to add depth and interest. 

And here, the mirror was so perfect it is hard to separate reflection from reality. 

At the end of our walk, we left the lake to walk through the scots pine and  yellowing silver birch trees and along the feeder stream to the car park. Even here, despite the drop in light levels, the reflections were intriguing and beautiful. 

We always enjoy this time of year in Scotland. The brilliance of the colours and the hint of the coming weather changes seem so much more intense. (We’re forecast 2C and sleet showers on Saturday morning).  

We know why we live most of the time in England but we also know why we come here for a few weeks every year. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Autumn in Scotland

We’re up in Scotland for ten days enjoying the glorious autumn colours, as we usually are at the end of October for our last visit of the year. Today, we went to Crathes Castle near Banchory, a favourite haunt of ours. We walked in the grounds and visited the garden (more in another post) The colours at the property were wonderful as always.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Playing with sunflowers

Bloom, the recently started theme for my new group of stitchers (Brunel Broderers) has been giving me much to think about. It has been good to be prompted to think afresh and in a different direction. I have had many thoughts in mind but, sadly, I've had little chance to do anything except think. My much used PC with all its software and thousands of photographs was completely inaccessible for nearly 6 weeks due to a major malfunction (which also explains my recent blogging silence).

However, I am now back and able to access everything (what a relief!). I spent this afternoon reminding myself of where I was going and what I was thinking about before the cut off and re-exploring all the many photos of gardens and flowers that I took in August and September with Bloom in mind. I am now relieved to be able to work on them all.

So far, I’ve been attracted most to sunflowers - their strong colour (I do do colour!), their shape and structure and, above all, their sheer size. I began simply by overlaying images of two sunflower heads on top of one another, playing with the juxtaposition of the images and their relationship to one another.

I then used layer and crop or layer and cut again to isolate small sections of four slightly different images. I selected parts of the images and overlaid layers shapes one on another and altered colour and opacity. There is much to play with as can be seen here.

It always interests me to see how changing the colour in one element can so alter the whole effect.

 And how changing the focus to a different shape can seem so different.

Whilst some thought when beginning to develop new work is not a bad thing, for me there is always a strong urge to get on with things. This business has taught me two things. First of all, just how much my processis tied up with my photos and my ability to work on them. Secondly, how important it is to backup to an external drive so files can be accessed from elsewhere!